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Hammerson looks to digital to drive shopping centre footfall and spend

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Shopping centre developer Hammerson is concentrating on digital technology, and in particular mobile, as it looks to drive both footfall and retail sales, improving rental values as a result.

The property business said, in half-year figures out today, that there was “an increasing recognition from retailers of the importance of physical space as part of a co-ordinated multichannel offer.”

“Consumers are becoming more informed,” it added, “and this is impacting their behaviour and spending patterns. Retailers are using flagship stores as brand support and we continue to refresh the brands across our portfolio to ensure the consumer experience is optimised.”

This changing consumer behaviour, it said, means it is now focusing on improved physical environments, on the customer experience and on “developing market-leading technological solutions.”

Such solutions include a new Plus mobile app originally trialled at The Oracle, Reading and Highcross, Leicester, and now launched at its Marseille shopping centre Les Terrasses du Port, which opened in May. The app uses low energy Bluetooth beacons to deliver personalised content and offers to shoppers, reflecting their interests, redemption history and the stores they have visited. The Marseille installation, the company said, is the largest in Europe.

A digital platform including websites, responsive mobile sites, and analytical dashboards is to be rolled out across Hammerson’s UK and French shopping centres.

The update on digital strategy came as Hammerson reported net rental income of £146.9m, up 4.6% from £140.4m at the same time last year. Like-for-like growth, which strips out the effect of store openings and closures, grew by 1.5%. Pre-tax profits grew to £362.9m, from £80.8m last time.

The company said UK footfall fell by 1.5%, but, it added: “Consumers are spending more time and money at each visit to our centres.”

The return on its total portfolio was 6.9%, and in the UK it was 7.8%.

Image: Cabot Circus, Bristol, jointly owned by Hammerson and Land Securities.

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