After more than 20 years in the business, handling commercial real estate for some of Canada’s biggest retail landlords, Toronto-based Nick Iozzo, in the past year, set out on his own. He formed a new consultancy agency to help North American clients discover new creative sources of revenue from existing real estate.
The focus has been on pop-up and automated retail, brand activations, experiential entertainment, sponsorship, digital & static out-of-home advertising, location filming management, event planning and business development.
“The real estate industry has been evolving, and over the last year, that change has accelerated. The shopping centre is no longer just a place for commerce, but also a place to build a brand, elicit meaningful and memorable sensory responses in a world of digital engagement, and evolve the omni-channel world of learn, purchase, and play,” said Iozzo of the launch of The Ancillary Agency.
Iozzo said The Ancillary Agency’s priorities are fourfold:
- Maximize Revenue – discover new sources of revenue from existing real estate, improving net returns;
- Drive Traffic and Impressions – work with brands to attract physical visitors to the property, while cultivating social media impressions;
- Elevate the Guest Experience – enhance the shopper and visitor experience, driving loyalty and improved dwell time; and
- Business Development – connect best-in-class brands and service providers, growing the business opportunities within the marketplace.
Iozzo said he saw a huge void while working with the creative industry. He said there are sponsorship, experiential and media agencies that work with brands. The key is connecting those brands to people in this very digital world.
“There are a lot of benefits to that digital reach, but a lot of brands still want to physically interact with their customers and future customers. They may want them to try their products, taste their products, smell their products, interact with the knowledge-based staff of that brand. And I believe that shopping centres, office buildings and hotels will continue to drive that traffic, especially in a Canadian environment where we’re very hot in the summer, very cold in the winter and especially in an enclosed shopping centre environment it becomes a hub for seniors, for parents, for teens, for that community,” said Iozzo.
“I’m also working with the creative agencies who do phenomenal work in creating brand awareness and campaigns but need help to execute them in the commercial real estate world. I’m working with a number of agencies to help secure real estate for them, working with those agencies to help brainstorm campaign ideas in the physical real estate world, and really be that liaison where if a creative agency has this crazy idea that they don’t believe will ever fly, having somebody with 20 plus years in the industry and knows a lot of the people and the players and the companies, to help them get those campaign ideas approved and executed.”
While at Cadillac Fairview, it was a great opportunity for him to work with first-to-market brands. He also leased the CF Shops at Don Mills, the only outdoor lifestyle centre in the Cadillac Fairview portfolio.
“It really gave me a new insight for leasing. Cadillac Fairview had two shopping centres within four kilometres of each other. That was a challenge for Don Mills because if we were going to go after a lululemon in the market, it went to CF Fairview Mall. If we were going to go after an Apple, it went to Fairview Mall,” said Iozzo.
“Don Mills really challenged me to think outside that box, to look at the future of merchandise mix for retailers and to just really try to find new avenues to address the customer base.”
That included bringing in furniture store deals, entertainment, health and fitness – even a tattoo parlour.
“That creative retail leasing thinking to survive within your own CF ecosystem challenged me to really think outside the box, go after a lot of up-and-coming brands, go after who were the hot brands on direct to consumer and online. That allowed me to go from a shopping centre when I took over that was below 70 per cent leased to over 85 per cent leased out shopping centre over four years,” he said.
Iozzo also credits his work with CF Lime Ridge Mall in Hamilton, Ontario in enhancing his leasing experience because that included not only convincing retailers to come to the shopping centre, but he also had to convince them to come to Hamilton. He worked with the Mayor’s office, economic development and the Chamber of Commerce in leasing up the mall.
While at Oxford, the focus was to help drive revenue for the company, drive traffic to the shopping centre and elevate the customer experience.
“The team I had oversaw specialty leasing not only for the shopping centre portfolio, but we managed all the office and hotel assets in the portfolio. We then moved into residential. We saw an untapped market in residential. And to be honest, even in industrial,” said Iozzo.
“Part of my program was overseeing pop-up retail, brand activations, and sponsorship. I oversaw the digital and static out-of-home media program as well as the film management. That was everything from getting TV commercials to TV shows to Hollywood blockbusters filmed in our portfolio.”
Iozzo said he took all his successes in the projects that he was working on at Oxford to his new venture.
“I truly believe we (Oxford) created a very unique offering in the Canadian marketplace. I think there were some other landlords in the U.S, that had a similar structure. I saw the void in the Canadian marketplace, really the North American marketplace, and that’s what the Agency is focused on – that specialty leasing and ancillary revenue opportunities.
“And we’re really focused on three sectors. One is the landlord sector. On the landlord side, what we want to do is help drive that creative revenue, drive footfall traffic and social media traffic and to help elevate that guest experience, especially in the age of COVID where the financial results of a lot of the shopping centres, especially the enclosed fashion-centric type of shopping centres, have suffered and landlords are really looking for new revenue streams for those assets. Secondly, the creative brand and agency sector as a liaison to real estate and inventory for their campaign. Thirdly, with several decades of experience in commercial real estate, our business development offering can connect products and service providers to the decision makers in the real estate, media, and property management sectors of the the industry.”
“But we also really need to work on bringing people back into that shopping centre environment and that’s driving that traffic, driving that social media impression that a lot of landlords have to pay to get. And elevating the guest experience is to not only welcome them back but they extend that dwell time to make sure that the visitors to shopping centres feel accepted and respected within that shopping centre.”