SES CEO Marcus Wild answers 5 questions

Megatrend urbanization: the future lies within cities

What three things are you most proud of?

Marcus Wild: I am proud that we have become a successful, independent company as an SES unit. I am also proud of our fantastic SES team—we have filled almost every position optimally. Finally, I am proud of our net income in 2016 and of the unique SES signature we live.

What trends do you see now?

Marcus Wild: First, gastronomy is on the rise. We know the value of our food destinations and I am assuming that the gastro spaces in our centers will double from the current 6-7% to 13-14%. Second, growing digitalization is helping retail stores to diversify and unlock innovative potential. Novel shops are arising in combination with digital channels. I call them “start-up” stores. These can be pop-up stores or comprehensively modernized existing stores. Thirdly, a center can only be successful if it is geared toward the needs of the region. Our SES centers are all unique and closely linked to their respective cities. Cities and urbanization are THE megatrend.

What does the urbanization megatrend mean in practice?

Marcus Wild: I don’t think there will be any new greenfield projects. But I can think of plenty of cities where there is still potential for integrated projects. Our focus, however, will be elsewhere in the future: on the development of existing retail locations that are too long in the tooth. This decidedly includes inner cities. I am convinced that the level of organization in real estate management will be greater in city centers as well in the future. This will require center-management-like models. It is not about leasing a building, but about developing a concept for attractiveness. I am convinced that mayors can improve the vitality of their cities in cooperation with SES.

What do you personally like about shopping centers?

Marcus Wild: I love the atmosphere when a shopping center comes to life in the morning: the smell of bread, cleaning crews putting on the finishing touches, roller doors being opened. It’s like a city waking up. But I also like it when a center really “buzzes.”

What is the trend for the next 10 years?

Marcus Wild: Even greater flexibility and information transparency. Shopping centers fulfill many functions. Shopping by itself will not be enough. Centers are meeting spaces and marketplaces. It’s about the feel-good factor.