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Retail resorts

Alex Barbany managing director of intu’s Spanish business tells us more about the retail landscape and outlook in Spain

An upbeat economic outlook and increased consumption in Spain has driven the Spanish retail market in recent years, resulting in a growth in the number and quality of assets.* We catch up with Alex Barbany managing director of intu’s Spanish business to find out more about the retail landscape and outlook in Spain.

Are there any key differences between the UK retail market and the Spanish?"

"The UK is definitely a more mature market place where the focus is on enhancing and developing existing schemes to add more food and beverage offers, leisure and experience-led shopping experiences. For example, we’ve recently welcomed the first of many new brands, such as Debenham’s, Jack Wills, Superdry and YO! Sushi at our £180m redevelopment at intu Watford.

Here in Spain, there’s still a great opportunity to deliver new and exciting ground-up retail because the demand for more shopping centres still exists. New shopping centres will have to stand out from what is already available. For example, if we proceed with the development retail resorts such as intu Costa del Sol in Malaga, which is expected to deliver 230,000 sq m of retail, leisure and dining with an intu twist, will definitely deliver the wow-factor. We also have two further options at sites in Valencia and Vigo."

How are Spanish shopping centres using technology and innovation to enhance the customer experience?"

"Digital innovation is part of intu’s DNA and in Spain we’ve launched an ambitious project of digital transformation that will enable us to enhance our operations and service delivery to make our customers smile and help our retailers flourish

At intu Asturias we’ve introduced Europe’s first 360-degree sensory screen that transforms the environment and provides a unique moment of surprise and delight for customers. Shoppers are encouraged to interact using a photocam and upload their photo to share their experience with other users. The technology also offers an exclusive nebula experience where shoppers can compete to see who can get the furthest out into the galaxy.

At Madrid Xanadú we’ve also launched Spain’s first shopping centre chatbot, SuperXan. This virtual assistant uses AI technology to enhance customers’ online shopping experience.

Implementing technology to enhance the overall experience is important for retail evolution and at intu we believe in the concept of testing and trialling new initiatives. Currently we’re using technology to help us to identify places that our customers consider ‘relaxation areas’ so that we can enhance these spaces."

Are there any differences in Spanish consumer behaviour compared with UK consumers?"

Spanish families tend to spend much more time on leisure and F&B when they go to a shopping centre. At our Spanish centres we’ve adjusted our offer to provide new attractions and even more reasons to stay which has positively impacted dwell time, doubling it to three hours per visit on average. 

Spanish shoppers also prefer to shop much later in the day. For example, at Madrid Xanadú the busiest time is after 4.00pm. Shops in Spain are also open seven days a week from 10am to 10pm providing greater flexibility for consumers.

What role does online shopping play in Spain? "

It’s fair to say that Spanish consumers are not as well versed with online shopping as in the UK. Research by Savills shows that in 2016, just 35% of people aged between 16 and 74 completed at least one purchase online, placing Spain 15th in the ranking of the 28 EU member countries; a long way from the European average of 45% and 43 percentage points below the UK which heads up the list with 78%.**

There is a real opportunity in Spain to learn from other retail markets to make sure that a more digital future blends effortlessly with the physical store experience to deliver a multichannel environment where retailers flourish.  intu is well placed to lead on this, drawing from the experience of its UK business which offers a multichannel offer to help retailers succeed online and in store.

CGI of potential catering area at intu Costa del Sol
How are brands using physical space in Spain?"

Top shopping centres in Spain such as intu Puerto Venecia continue to attract investment from big retailers such as Inditex, H&M and Primark who want to showcase their most advanced store concepts in prime Spanish shopping centres.

New brands are using physical space to shake the market up. As an example, Chinese Tech Xiaomi, who is one of the largest technological start-ups in the world, opened its first Spanish store at Madrid Xanadu. Catering brands such as Five guys and Starbucks are expanding into new regions too.

As in the UK, brands are adapting how they use physical space to offer complementary activities with the use case for stores changing more frequently than ever. These dynamic store formats aim to meet consumer demands by keeping up with the latest trends as we see more sports brands offering experiences such as dining, group classes and workshops, focussing the experience beyond the product.

If we proceed with the development, intu’s retail resort concept intu Costa del Sol is expected to revolutionise the way space is used to create compelling shopping experiences to meet the changing needs of consumers. It’s a much more innovative and flexible approach that is changing the European market mindset about the future of retail and its ability to create interesting experiences in relaxed shared spaces within a world of retail and leisure.



** http://pdf.euro.savills.co.uk/spain/nat-eng-2018/savills-retail-spain-january2018-eng.pdf