Retail expert comments on international hypermarket strategies / by Broadway Malyan

As the world becomes richer and the middle classes expand, international hypermarket retailers are looking to get in on the action from China to Brazil and India to Argentina. There are few places yet now to be touched by the might of the big brands such as Tesco, Carrefour, Walmart and Auchan.

However, despite predictions for continued global retail market growth, some international hypermarkets are exiting markets, or reducing their exposure in the face of heavy losses, such as in China and Columbia – but there is no strict pattern.   

Stuart Rough, Chairman of global architecture, urbanism and design practice Broadway Malyan, said: “The decisions on where and how to invest in new space are driven by retailers’ business models.

“The big players have spent years and many millions understanding how to optimise their supply chains and configure their space, to deliver the right product at the right time to the right customer. They make decisions on where to invest based on their belief in their model and we know, in the race for market share in global hypermarket retailing, it’s operational performance that’s king.

“Through our own work with leading hypermarket retailers, rolling out development plans in mature and new markets, we know that design isn’t always viewed as a factor critical to operational success – although the design of the overall centre in which a hypermarket is anchor, is of great importance in the face of competition between centres and competing hypermarket operators.

“Also, while designers aim to make a building or space perform better, given the freedom and flexibility to shape it, our own experience is that culturally-influenced design, which is sympathetic to market and location sensitivities and expectations, does directly contribute towards the success of hypermarket retailers’ international expansion.  

“For example, in China and Southeast Asia, the pulling power of malls isn’t necessarily driven by hypermarkets, and so understanding how to integrate a hypermarket within a shopping centre, from a design perspective, is essential. In Europe, we are seeing a shift towards leisure-driven ‘resort shopping’, as operators seek to create more welcoming, multi-functional spaces that hold people for longer. 

“This strategy frequently involves creating seating, event spaces and areas for family time and activities, all part of the attempt to differentiate the shopping and leisure time experience from its on-line equivalent – which one of my clients calls ‘simply buying stuff’!

“Culturally-influenced design matters because it can make the big box retail format gel with its surroundings and make the right connections for its target customers.”

Distinguished by our global reach with 16 studios across world centres, unrivalled diversity with 500+ design experts and distinctive client focus with over 75% income from repeat business, we create world-class and fully-integrated cities, places and buildings to unlock lasting value and deliver a ‘return on design’.

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