The Queen of Shops helps raise £410,000 for Norwood

28 June 2012

The Norwood Property Lunch has not only come to be one of the most popular and prestigious events in the property industry calendar, but also an important networking opportunity for people from across the sector to come together in aid of a special cause.

Last Friday’s event was no exception, as over 550 professionals from some of the country’s most prestigious firms enjoyed the lunch at The Lancaster Hotel, sponsored by Amlin, Derwent London, Earlcrown, Savills and Jones Lang LaSalle. Once again, Property Week was media sponsor and its editor, Giles Barrie, presented the 2012 Norwood Property Awards.

Award winners were London Square, for Newcomer of the Year; Amazon Properties for Residential Deal of the Year; Westfield, for Westfield Stratford, won Retail Development of the Year and Brockton Capital for Property Fund of the Year.

A highly topical panel discussion was moderated by Jones Lang LaSalle’s Head of Retail in the UK, Guy Grainger. Guests of honour were Mary Portas, widely recognised as the UK’s foremost authority on retail and brand communication, Ashley Blake, Director of Retail Portfolios at Land Securities and Patrick Dunne, Director of Group Property and Procurement at Alliance Boots.

After showing a clip from her Channel 4 documentary about the demise of local shops in Margate, the "Queen of Shops" commented:

"When the recession hit, consumers became more savvy and, at the same time, there was a growth in internet shopping as it got more sophisticated and gave a great service, unlike some retail outlets."

Talking about research for the ‘Portas Pilot’, the Government scheme she is fronting to regenerate Britain’s failing High Streets, Mary added: "The most important thing I had to look at was the loss of social capital when the High Street died." The panel went on to address the challenge of creating a High Street with social amenities so that, the shopping experience is more like the social experience which the large retail malls provide.

The panel suggested that the way forward was to engage and mobilise all stakeholders with vested interests in determining what the needs of each specific town were. Landlords, local government, residents, and retailers need to form a town team (E.g. BIDS) which could then develop a realistic vision for the future multifunctional high street which would incorporate health, wellbeing, and entertainment amenities. Investors were urged to commit their time and expertise in addition to their capital to develop safe, accessible internet defensive facilities for the use and long term stability of the community.

Mark Pollack, Co-Chair of the Norwood Property Lunch Committee, said: "The afternoon was a great success and thoroughly enjoyed by all. I would like to thank our special guests and moderator for providing such an entertaining discussion, and the Norwood Property Lunch Committee for their on-going commitment to the event. I would also like to thank our sponsors Amlin, Derwent London, Earlcrown, Savills, Jones Lang LaSalle, Property Week, and all our guests for their generous support."

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