Insight

Our reign in Spain

We talk to intu’s development director, Martin Breeden, about our activity in Spain

Why did you choose Spain for intu’s first foray in Europe?

It was a bold decision, but in 2012 we decided to go into Spain because we could see real possibilities for growth there. It’s economy was moving out of recession, it has a sophisticated Spanish retail market and good infrastructure. Most of all, it’s prime regional shopping centre market has fragmented ownership and we could see great opportunities for an innovative owner willing to take a risk and to shake it up. 

What are your ambitions there?

The country holds huge potential for the creation of genuinely regional destination centres in which we specialise. Eighty per cent of Spain’s retail expenditure comes from 10 key catchments and we aim to be the leading owner, developer and manager of regionally pre-eminent shopping centre destinations for a significant number of those key areas.

How many centres do you own in Spain?

We have two at the moment – intu Asturias near Oviedo in northeast Spain, and Puerto Venecia in Zaragoza. We’ll soon be starting on site at intu Costa del Sol, just outside Malaga, and we also have options on three more sites, in Valencia, Vigo and Palma

Has Spain delivered on its promise so far? 

Yes, investing in Spain in 2013 has proven to be a timely move. We now have a strong foothold in a rapidly improving market that has just seen its 17th successive quarter of retail sales growth. Shopping in Spain is attractive as seen with Spanish shopping malls, intu Asturias and Puerto Venecia, which are performing strongly with positive sales growth, dwell and footfall above the benchmarks. Our management team has introduced exciting new retailers at both centres and occupancy in both the centres is nearly 100 per cent. 

You have recently rebranded intu Asturias. How has that been received? 

Our 2015 rebrand of intu Asturias has shown that the intu brand, with its distinctive approach to asset management, customer experience and digital connectivity, can be as successful in the Spanish market as it is in the UK. The brand has transferred well, adapting to the local culture and community in much the same way it does in the UK. The high level of digital connectivity, compelling events and the world class service for which intu is already well-known are proving as popular with Spanish customers as they are with British shoppers: footfall, sales and customer satisfaction are all well up – proving how much more attractive intu Asturias now is. 

What’s next for intu in Spain? 

Well, as I said above, we are just about to start on site on the new concept regional resort at intu Costa del Sol. This is a world class project - ideally located in one of Spain’s top catchments, which draws together the very best in retail, placemaking and leisure, combined with the intu’s unique brand and asset management. There is already intense interest from potential tenants and we are sure that it will be a huge success.

What we have already achieved in Spain – the rebranding of intu Asturias, and the rise in demand both there and at Puerto Venecia – is giving retailers such a lot confidence in intu that there is also growing interest in the sites on which we have options, in Vigo, Palma and Valencia. News on our plans for these will be available soon.