Hammerson [IRDX VHAM] this week set out some of the ways its bridges the gap between online and in-store as it looks to improve customers’ experience in its shopping centres. It says that best practice digital solutions and customer engagement are both key ways that it differentiates itself from competitors as it looks to create value for shoppers, retailers, staff and local communities – as well as shareholders.
1. Click and collect
Hammerson now has click and collect sites in five UK shopping centres and plans more. The latest is at the Bullring in Birmingham, and is operated in partnership with Doddle. These enable visitors to pick up and return online orders while they’re in the shopping centre. Usage, says Hammerson, “has continued to exceed our expectations”. The company is also trialling a number of formats for the service in its French centres.
In its French centres, the shopping centre developer is trialling Amazon lockers, and is also working with French delivery companies La Poste and Relais Colis as partners on its Pack City lockers in that country.
3. Public art
The shopping centre operator brought digital art into the Highcross Centre. The Beacons is a digital sculpture featuring seven totems that act as screens to show animations, public events and artworks, while also turning prevailing weather conditions and movement into images. It is intended to make St Peter’s Square at the centre of the shopping centre into a meeting and gathering point. As well as being a use of digital in itself, the sculpture, says Hammerson, has also won it attention on social media.
In the UK, the property developer owns and operates 11 shopping centres, including Bristol’s Cabot Circus (pictured) and Birmingham’s Bullring, and 19 retail parks. It has 10 shopping centres in France.
The update came as Hammerson released half-year results. In the six months to June 30, net rental income came in at £167.7m, 2.1% up on the same time last year. Profits were 50.2% down at £326.1m. That includes changes in valuation to its properties. Adjusted profits came in at £112.6m, 6% up on last time.
Chief executive Dave Atkins said the company had a resilient business model that would serve it well at a time of political and economic uncertainty, following the leave vote delivered in the European referendum. He said: “Our assets in Europe continue to perform strongly and in the UK, notwithstanding the market uncertainty, we have been reassured by the level of leasing and investment activity post the EU Referendum, both in our portfolio and across the wider property market, highlighting continued appetite for high-quality retail property.”
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