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, 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.”
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.
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.
“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.
“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.