Elevating Canadian Retail: How JLL’s Expertise Reshapes Property Management [Interviews]


Share post:

There has been a shift in the Canadian retail landscape with owners and landlords of properties increasingly outsourcing their property management needs.

And commercial real estate firm JLL has moved into the forefront of the industry with property management that goes beyond cost and risk mitigation for better performing people, buildings and portfolios.

Johanne Marcotte

Johanne Marcotte, JLL Canada’s EVP – Retail Portfolio Management, said JLL manages all types of assets – retail, office, industrial and multi-family.

“(Retail) is the area where we’ve had the most growth over the last two years,” said Marcotte. 

Overall, the property asset management group takes care of just over 53 million square feet comprising about 275 assets. The retail group looks after 19 million square feet with more than 20 properties spread out across the country – from grocery-anchored sites to community centres to urban shopping centres to more regional shopping locations.

“What we do is we manage people. I always say that I’m not managing brick and mortar. I manage resources. I manage people,” said Marcotte. “We’re building teams of best-in-class experts who provide portfolio wide strategies and local operations.

“So what we do is really bring the expertise, we bring the savoir faire, so investors can focus on their property investments. In this way, everyone can play to their strengths. The institution can do what it does best by focusing on its investment. My team can complement their actions by providing scaled services in all major markets across Canada. We work in partnership with our clients to ensure their goals are executed. In this way, we’re kind of the extension of the institution.”

Image: JLL

Marcotte said one of the biggest benefits of partnering with a firm like JLL is the scale of operations with the resources it has at its disposal as well as the performance mindset it has – and how that makes a difference in the market. 

“Today our network is more than 100,000 employees across the globe. So, our network is huge. With this big network comes broad expertise, from the funding to the management or to the disposition of an asset, our extended team has the knowledge and expertise to make it happen. In all, it’s very compelling service offering for a client, for a partner,” said Marcotte.

“We’re global but it doesn’t mean that we’re not agile. In addition to our property teams, we have a group of internal best-in-class consultants across disciplines such as operations, security, sustainability, continuous improvement, and innovation. This combined team means that we can be more strategic about how we manage each asset and how we can ensure seamless execution on behalf of the owners.”

Because of its scale, JLL has its own marketplace – a worldwide selection of vendors or products available to its clients with pre-negotiated contracts, pre-negotiated services, pre-negotiated prices. It takes advantage of that to help support clients be more profitable.

Marcotte said highly amenitized properties have really emerged these days as places that are attractive to tenants. The latest trend in the industry is to create those experiences that are positive and welcoming for tenants and visitors to properties.

“The other shift is everything to do with sustainability. I really feel that today there is more synergy. Landlords are working towards common goals. I think we all have a responsibility in terms of sustainable practices and JLL is helping to lead the way with its phenomenal in-house talent.,” she said.

Southgate Centre in Edmonton. Image: YEG Adventures

Paul Lessner, JLL Canada’s SVP – National Shopping Centre Leasing, said if a retail property isn’t managed properly, it has an impact on the customer experience. 

“The customer experience is twofold. It’s the consumer. It’s the shopper. But the customer is also the retailer,” said Lessner. 

Paul Lessner

“Successful retailer/landlord relationships work when they’re viewed as a partnership. I always tell the retailer when I meet with them: Your success is my success. If you’re doing the sales, you can pay me more rent. If you’re not doing the sales, you can’t pay me more rent. And the rent ties back to the valuation. It’s very simple.”

Lessner said it’s important that landlords continually reinvest in their assets. 

“It’s like a plant. You constantly need to be watering it. You constantly need to be feeding it. And the property management group is integral to that constant investment. They’re identifying what needs to be done,” he said. 

An overall customer experience that is positive leads to more consumers visiting the property which makes it more attractive for retailers to set up shop in a well-run and well-managed property. 

“I encourage leasing to collaborate and communicate with the onsite operations teams when they’re doing prospecting. Together, the teams live and breathe the shopping centre every day,” said Lessner.

Montreal Eaton Centre, photo: Shutterstock/licensed

“I am always encouraging junior leasing people that to be effective in leasing in open air or enclosed shopping centres, you need to understand your customer. That means you need to drive around the neighbourhoods, you need to understand traffic patterns. Are there schools in the area? Are there office buildings in the area? When is the mall busy? What is the competition looking like? By having this deep local knowledge, our teams can then identify what’s missing.”

“The key to everything we do is our people,” says Marcotte. “Our ability to marry the investor’s lens with our more entrepreneurial mindset is giving amazing results. We have seen concrete achievements across the properties we manage. Our secret sauce lives somewhere between our boots on the ground teams and our behind-the-scenes strategists.”

*Retail Insider worked with JLL on this content.

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From The Author



Subscribe to the Newsletter


* indicates required

Related articles

Enhancing Retail Environments: A Contemporary Feng Shui Consultant’s Insights on Design, Colour, and Visitor Experience [Podcast]

Craig and Mark Ainley discuss the profound impact of Feng Shui and flow on retail spaces. Mark highlights how subtle cues, from sharp angles to vibrant colours, influence consumer behaviour, emphasizing the importance of creating an authentic and inviting retail atmosphere.

Top Shopping Centres in Canada Evolving Experiential Elements to Grow Foot Traffic and Tenant Revenue [Interview]

JLL’s Senior Marketing Director, Property Management, discusses how creating unique experiences tailored to local markets helps drive overall asset value through increased footfall and productivity.

Mastermind Toys Acquired by Joe Mimran’s Unity Acquisitions, 18 Stores to Close 

Unity will acquire the majority of Mastermind Toys store locations following a bankruptcy filing, with a significant number of employees continuing with the business.

Active Gaming Facility ‘Activate’ Plans Rapid Cross-Canada Expansion with New Leases [Interview]

The company, known for its unique competitive socializing concept, aims to open multiple locations in Canada while also planning a global expansion.

Alo Yoga Entering Quebec Market Amid Ongoing Canadian Store Expansion

The US-based athleisure brand, similar to Lululemon, has launched a multi-store-per-city strategy in Canada as it enters the Belle Provence. 

From ‘Greedflation’ to Government Scrutiny: A Rollercoaster Year for Canada’s Grocery Industry [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois discusses how over the past year the Canadian grocery industry has faced unprecedented political scrutiny and intervention, while also saying there's potential for a re-emergence of unethical schemes.

West Edmonton Mall Continues to Expand Luxury Retail with Addition of Moncler; Tiffany Marks 10 Years

Italian luxury brand Moncler is the latest to join the massive shopping centre with retailers such as Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga and Gucci. The mall’s first luxury store, Tiffany & Co. is also marking 10 years. 

Canadian Consumers to Prioritize Brick-and-Mortar Retail into December [Report/Interview]

Electronics are among the top gifts, with moderate growth in the restaurant and grocery sectors expected while also noting a controlled promotional approach due to slowing inflation.

Salesforce’s Rob Garf Discusses Canadian Retailers’ Strategies Amidst Q3 E-commerce Slowdown [Report/Interview]

Garf discusses a report showing a 9% decline in Canadian e-commerce growth, indicating a consumer expectation for discounts in the upcoming months. He discusses a consumer shift and how retailers can address it.

Early Signs Point to a Strong Holiday Shopping Season in Canada Despite Economic Challenges

Reports indicate that last Saturday and Sunday saw the biggest surge in consumer spending so far, with predictions made as we head into December.

Specsavers Set to Reach 100 Canadian Locations in Early 2024, Expanding into New Markets [Interviews]

The eyewear retailer, which entered Canada in 2021, is rapidly expanding and looking to gain market share from established players.

Burton Snowboards Transforms Toronto Flagship for [ak] Collection as Brand Looks to Expand [Interview/Photos]

The high-performance AK collection is a new focus, with Burton planning to grow its retail presence in Canada with more stores in key markets.