Retailers give ‘unhealthy’ review to country’s shopping centres

New survey from Retail Excellence Ireland assesses performance in 33 shopping centres

Retail Excellence Ireland Shopping Centre Review 2015

Ireland, makes for depressing reading if you’re a shopping centre retailer.

It surveyed more than 200 shopping centre tenants which operate more than 600 shopping centre stores. It looked for feedback regarding centre performance from the tenant’s perspective. Shopping centre owners were not consulted in the course of conducting the review of the 33 centres.

In terms of overall performance from the tenant’s point of view, none of the shopping centres was ranked “in good health”. Of those marked “marginally healthy”, Stillorgan Shopping Centre was ranked first, followed by Dundrum Town Centre and Blanchardstown Centre. Also included in this group was Limerick’s Crescent, Carlow’s Fairgreen, Cork’s Mahon Point and Wilton centres, Dublin’s Stephen’s Green centre and Galway Shopping Centre.

Of the centres determined as having an “unhealthy” overall performance, MacDonagh Junction in Kilkenny, Scotch Hall in Drogheda and Blackrock shopping centre in Co Dublin had the lowest scores, while of those ranked “significantly unhealthy” Arklow’s Bridgewater came out worst.

“Stillorgan Shopping Centre’s productivity is a factor of many leases being at sustainable rent levels, recent retail openings enhancing footfall, free parking and a significant and affluent local demographic,” says Seán Murphy, deputy chief executive of Retail Excellence Ireland.

When asked if their shopping centre stores were profitable, no retailers described their outlets as “profitable”. Galway Shopping Centre had the highest score for retailers which ranked their stores “marginally profitable” followed by Whitewater in Newbridge and Letterkenny.

Stores in 13 centres were ranked “unprofitable”, including Dundrum and Stephen’s Green, while shops in Athlone Town Centre, Laurence Town Centre in Drogheda and Bridgewater were ranked “significantly unprofitable”.

When asked if their shopping centre outlet was strategically important to their store network, no shopping centre had a store ranked by retailers as “important”. Stillorgan was top for “marginally important” stores followed by Dundrum and Blanchardstown, while retailers in 20 centres said their shops were “unimportant”; of those surveyed, retailers at the Laurence centre described their shops as “significantly unimportant”.

No retailers said they were paying close to the market rent for their stores. Parkway Shopping Centre in Limerick came on top for retailers paying “marginally close to the market rent” while 27 centres were determined by retailers as having rents “not close to market rent”. Blackrock was the only shopping centre ranked as having a “significant disparity to market rent”.

When asked if shopping centre management worked hard to promote their centres, no retailer ranked a shopping centre “well promoted”. Dundrum, Jervis and Stillorgan were determined “marginally well promoted” while 30 centres were ranked either “poorly promoted” or “very poorly promoted”.

Just Whitewater was found to have a management team “marginally responsive” to tenant needs, while the other 32 centres surveyed had management teams which were “non-responsive” and “significantly non-responsive”.

With such a negative opinion of their shopping centres, it’s not surprising to learn that retailers in five centres had “definite exit from scheme” plans while retailers in 11 other centres would “probably exit the scheme”. Retailers in just two centres, Stillorgan and Blanchardstown, “will remain in scheme” while those at 14 other centres “marginally wish to remain in the scheme”.

“Our survey shows that much of the sheen has come off the primary M50 schemes with consumers becoming tired of ‘commoditised formats’ and travelling greater distances for weekend experiences,” said Mr Murphy.

The REI Shopping Centre Review 2015 survey included Athlone Town Centre; Ballincollig Shopping Centre; Blackpool Shopping Centre; Blackrock Shopping Centre, Co Dublin; Blanchardstown Centre; Bridgewater Shopping Centre; City Square Shopping Centre, Waterford; Crescent Shopping Centre; Douglas Court Shopping Centre; Dundrum Town Centre; Dún Laoghaire Shopping Centre; Eyre Square Shopping Centre; Fairgreen Shopping Centre; Galway Shopping Centre; Ilac Shopping Centre; Jervis Shopping Centre; and Laurence Town Centre.

Shopping centres without a reasonable tenant sample available were excluded.