Our Association

The SPR has been representing property researchers since 1987.  Their seminars debate topical issues and the networking opportunities are unrivalled.  (They also count towards CPD hours.)  Junior analysts are able to rub shoulders with Heads of Research Departments often in informal situations.  SPR often collaborates with other associations to offer events with a wider appeal and is a member of the Property Industrial Alliance group.  Site visits are arranged for members to see 'behind the scenes' of major developments and SPR members also have the opportunity to access discounted rates to attend related courses and conferences organised by similar organisations.

Report on recent SPR event

How retail trends are changing the property market
2018: A Year of Distress

This, the first in a series of three SPR seminars focusing on the retail property market, was held on Wednesday, 18 April 2018 at Cushman & Wakefield, 125 Old Broad Street, London.

In the morning’s main presentation, Richard Lim, Chief Executive at Retail Economics painted a fairly bleak picture of the outlook for the UK retail industry in 2018. For all the current improvement in real incomes, consumer confidence remains fragile and the propensity for discretionary spending weak.  Meanwhile retail spending is getting more polarised, with food purchases holding up well, while other areas struggle. Add to this the cost pressures that wage growth and escalating business rates are placing on many retailers and it is not surprising to find margins under pressure for many. At the same time business models are undergoing structural change in the face of an ever growing share of sales taking place on line.  All this, he suggested, means that 2018 looks set to be a “year of distress” for the sector.


Darren Yates, Head of EMEA Retail Research at Cushman & Wakefield, who also chaired the meeting, did not contradict this pessimistic assessment in his overview of key retail property trends in the UK and US. In a talk entitled “Shopping centres: How bad is it?” he emphasised the exponential growth in Internet sales, suggesting that their market share might end up as high as 40% in the UK. Although he does not believe conditions are yet as bad as in the US, where Green Street Advisors reckon 30% of malls are at risk of closure, 2017 was still a bad year for UK retailer failures, while a significant number of shopping centres are half empty, prompting thoughts of converting many to a wider mix of uses. Yates proposed that some may not even be called shopping centres in the future.

Alice Keown, F&B Asset Manager, British Land and Caitriona Hunter, Director, CBRE Global Investors, who spoke as panellists, sounded rather more upbeat in their comments, but agreed that down the line shopping centres would be less about the volume of goods leaving their doors.  Keown emphasised that British Land is aiming to raise its share of sales from food and beverage from the present 11% to 15%, as well as increasing community links in many of its centres. Hunter stressed that investors need to understand the sea-change that has hit retail: For most mall visitors, shopping is no longer the same thing as buying, making experience and convenience key factors in a centre’s success.

Lim and Hunter agreed that the worst of retailers’ current travails may be over by early 2019.  But that is likely to be cold comfort for many.

Tim Horsey

Chair's blog

Since taking over as SPR Chair at the Society’s AGM in early November, the last three months have whizzed past!

Firstly, well done to Vanessa on delivering a great new website and a superb 30th Anniversary Conference in her year as Chair, while also keeping the regular socials, seminars and other events going. Last year’s series of tech seminars were also a highlight for the Society and its members.

Talking of highlights, my year in office kicked off with our hugely well-attended Annual Dinner, held at the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall. The Society owes a debt of gratitude to Roger Bootle, who acted as ‘sponsor’ to allow us to make use of the venue. We are also hugely grateful for our two headline sponsors of the event, who have been supporting us for a number of years, Oxford Economics and Cobalt Recruitment. This year was the first year in which we had an After Dinner speaker, a model that seems to have been well-received and created a crescendo of excitement during the evening. Thank you also to our raffle prize contributors.

Since the Annual Dinner, the Committee has been working hard behind the scenes to get events up and running for 2018. We kick-started this year’s seminars with two joint events – the European Logistics with the ULI and the UK Property Outlook with the IPF.  Our next seminar, on March 8th, is the Presentation of the Nick Tyrrell Research Prize-winning paper. Look out for information about our upcoming retail seminar series, with the first event likely in late April. Before then, there will be a site visit to a large shopping centre. 9th March is the date for that one!

Apart from all the learning, we like to keep things social! The first social event of the year is in the diary and fully booked – King Pin Bowling – being held at the All Star Lanes on Brick Lane on Wednesday 21st February. If you have missed out, then the much-loved Annual Pub Quiz will also be upon us soon, so look out for information about that, on our events page.

Additionally, to keep up to date with happenings at past events, and to read blogs from committee members click here.

Finally, there is one other area, which has been touched upon at previous AGMs, which is finding a way for the Society to recognise new or particularly interesting applied research, conducted as part of a researcher’s day job and with a business purpose. This is wholly separate to the Nick Tyrrell Research prize fund (remind yourself of its purpose, previous winners and respond to the call for papers by clicking here), to which the SPR is one of three donor organisations.

As a Society it’s hugely important that we encourage the next generation of researchers, forecasters, strategists and analysts, as well as those who may already have been around a few years, to push the envelope. This may mean finding new ways of analysing markets or uncovering new insights, but importantly, they need to be ready to be applied to markets to help investors, developers, valuers, bankers, brokers and others better understand property markets. Please look out for more detailed information about a new SPR research prize along these lines.


Kiran Raichura
February 2018


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