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Multichannel focus for Hammerson and Intu merger

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This week’s news that Hammerson is to buy Intu in a £3.4bn deal looks set to boost the retail property operator’s multichannel capabilities.

Currently Hammerson, which develops and operates office and retail properties, has focused its retail strategy on premium shopping centres and retail parks in its UK operations. Earlier this year it described the role that such centres play in the UK retail industry, at a time when shopper visitor numbers are falling, and online sales are taking a bigger slice of business. It said that prime centres give retailers the customer presence they demand, in the form of footfall, sales and dwell time. Meanwhile, it said, out-of-town retail parks fill a gap between large shopping centres and town centres, supporting click and collect sales, while offering a new look and more space than high street stores. Hammerson’s portfolio includes 23 shopping centres, including Bristol’s Cabot Circus (pictured), 17 retail parks and investments in 20 premium outlet villages and 18 retail parks.

This week’s deal with Intu, owner of shopping centres including Intu Trafford Centre and Lakeside, expands the portfolio but also brings with it multichannel advantages. Intu, for example, stands out in its use of digital for its has affiliate website, which Hammerson describes as typifying its “innovative approach to connecting retailer requirements with customer demands”. Hammerson, which has its own shopping centre apps, says that the enlarged group will “drawn on its complementary digital strategies… to deliver highly productive space that enables retailers to succeed in its centres in a multichannel landscape.”

The enlarged group, says Hammerson, will combine the “superior experience, digital expertise and consumer know-how from both management teams to drive footfall and dwell time to deliver highly productive and valuable retail space and differentiated leisure destinations for consumers”.

The deal comes recommended by the directors, but is still subject to shareholder approval.

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