Report from MAPIC: Will North American Operational Partnerships Be the Key to Growth for European Retailers?

Last week, Goulston & Storrs joined 8300 fellow attendees for the annual MAPIC retail conference in Cannes, France. The conference covered the hottest trends, issues and opportunities in the European retail industry. This year’s lively conversations included talks about how retailers (and even some developers) are coping with the stubborn economies in many European countries that continue to lag other economies. We spent a lot of time talking to people from all over Europe (including Eastern Europe) and found an increasing interest in expanding European retail operations to North America as well as to Eastern Europe. This in itself isn’t news, but what is interesting is the approach that some European retailers are looking to employ. One strategy is for European retailers to develop relationships with North American operating partners. Here is what we heard:

Operational

As an alternative to driving a proverbial stake in the North American ground, European retailers are thinking very strategically. They are looking to find operating partners to help secure their success. These strategic partnerships will help European retailers run the operational side of the business. Of course, operating partners will need to be chosen carefully. They will be proven business leaders that can help European retailers more easily identify emerging needs, navigate local issues, identify successful locations, uncover opportunities and leverage networks.

Financial

European retailers are quite aware that the economy has been difficult for a long time. Outside of a few healthier markets (for example Germany, some major European cities like London, and Eastern Europe), European businesses recognize the benefits to expanding their reach in the United States and Canada. To that end, they are looking to secure relationships with investors who can inject money into these projects for a short-term launch and the long-term benefit.

The Mood

From our direct conversations with other Mapic participants and our observations walking the floor of the Palais, we saw serious business discussions taking place. There was even a sense of optimism among the attendees. What drives the optimism? Perhaps it’s fueled by retailers who believe the European economy has bottomed out, or alternatively, it may come from those who are excited to see emerging opportunities abroad. Either way, we will keep our eye on this topic and report back in future Retail Law Advisor posts.

Related topics: Retail