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Retail should bet on integrating physical and digital spaces
29 May 2020 |

The Covid-19 pandemic tested the retail segment, temporarily closing establishments and accelerating the e-commerce trend. But, nonetheless, there will still be a place for shopping centres in the future, a place which should favour the integration of physical and digital spaces.

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This is the opinion of Javier Hortelano De La Lastra, Managing Director & Partner at Catella Asset Management, who, during an exclusive interview to Iberian Property further remarked that «we will not move from the physical to the digital. We must ensure consumers have a great experience both navigating online and visiting the physical shopping centres. Shopping centres need to integrate new technology and new ways of online shopping». At the same time, «online retailers need to show their physical products to emphasize their brands. This subject also addresses the new consumer, the XXI st century consumer».

According to him, physical and online commerce «should coexist. Digitisation should join the human nature that shares, talks, enjoys and knows».

Despite considering this as one of the segments which on the short-term, will be more affected by the pandemic crisis, the Managing Director & Partner at Catella Asset Management highlighted that «the real estate sector is currently more prepared to face adversity than it was during the previous crisis», since «in general, companies are in a better financial situation».  We should also add the optimistic view that «this crisis should not change everything: we will continue travelling and shopping in shopping centres. There will be a place for good assets to act satisfactorily once we are allowed to leave our homes», he assumed.

Core and Core plus investment may surpass the value-added

In terms of the players who will act within the Iberian real estate market in the near future, Javier Hortelano De La Lastra believes there will be more activity from the core and core-plus investors than from value-added investors.

«In terms of the total volume of investment, there will be more core and core-plus investors when compared to the value-added investors, for different reasons: first the price adjustments will take some time – and that period of time is the time needed for vulture investors to return to the market – and, then, the value-added businesses tend to be relatively smaller when compared to the core/core-plus ones. In short, in terms of volume of investment, core/core-plus investors should have the largest slice of the market», explained the Managing Director & Partner at Catella Asset Management.

On the economy’s recovery, Javier Hortelano is not very optimistic: «it is obvious that the economy has been on lockdown for a significant period of time. Confinement has been in effect for two months in Spain. And the economy will not restart any quicker. The second and third quarters of 2020 will be very slow in terms of transactions. And maybe during the final quarter, we will start to see more activity in the country when compared to the other quarters».

According to him, the volume of investment for 2020 should be approximately 30% less than in previous years.