Many in the UK retail and leisure property markets are resolute in their belief that one of the key attributes needed to get a job in these lively sectors is ‘passion’. So throughout 2016 inspired people will be sought-after to keep the wheels of these evolutionary sectors turning.
Ian Kitchen, founding partner of retail and leisure property specialists Kitchen La Frenais Morgan (KLM), says high on their shopping list are “personality, a bit of spark and a finger on the pulse of what’s fashionable”. Managing director of leisure specialist Fleurets Graeme Bunn says at junior recruitment level its more about having a real “passion, a real hunger” – at interview candidates will even be asked about their favourite pub. And Tracey Mills, executive director, development and London estates, of leisure property specialist Davis Coffer Lyons says they want “real foodies”, especially amongst their agency and marketing staff.
Last year threw up some notable overall recruitment trends and many, it seems, will continue. Julian Long, managing director of specialist property recruiter Foundation Recruitment, puts the spotlight on them.
“Investors have been very active in their recruitment for experienced asset managers,” he says. “This continues to be the case. Demand for accomplished property managers have also been very high and shows no sign of abating.”
And there has been a notable increase in requirements from 'food and beverage' clients who are back on the expansion trail, driven by the trend towards casual dining, he says.
Claire Whittall, executive consultant in retail and hospitality at property recruitment advisor Thomas Jeffrey, has been observing the same trend. “Leisure is where the strength lies in the high street,” she stresses.
British Land is one company that has been working on improving the leisure and food and beverage offer across its portfolio. Many of its functions are outsourced, however, explains Charlotte Bollu, the company’s talent acquisition manager. “So when we do hire we have to make sure we get it right.” With that in mind they recently drafted in Alice Keown, who was an F&B expert with Davis Coffer Lyons.
Meanwhile, new build development across the UK, and recruitment for the skills that go with it, have been less prolific. But the emergence of new schemes – Southampton, Plymouth, Exeter, Leeds and Oxford to name but a few – paint better prospects for such recruitment.
There is a prevailing view that the retail and leisure markets in 2016 remain fairly robust. But there is also an under-current of factors that could cast some dark shadows – a jittery Stock Market, worries about China and the on-going uncertainty that hovers over the UK’s membership of the EU.
There is also the legacy of recession. Recruitment having all but seized up has, according to many, resulted in a paucity of non-graduate recruits in their late 20s and early 30s who can bring a few years of experience to the party. Thomas Jeffrey’s Whittall says demand for 'landlord and tenant' work is growing but the recruitment candidate pool has retracted.
So how are recruitment strategies for 2016 shaping up? Agency giant CBRE is continuing to invest heavily in its consultancy and network planning services because it’s chief operating officer and head of retail strategy Nick Martel says they are increasingly advising retailers on what their ultimate portfolio should look like.
It’s brought in expertise from Tesco, Inditex, H&M, Boots and Arcadia. And targeted skills include geographers, strategists and data scientists. Those with knowledge of logistics, leasing and core brokerage, research and thought leadership are also sought-after. All of this activity grew the retail and leisure team by 10% to 165 during 2015. Martel says 2016 will see the same growth.
At KLM, Ian Kitchen says they have always been happy to recruit at graduate level and train people up – giving them an instant hit of experience.
Leicester-headquartered retail specialist Space RPC was formed in 2012 and managing director Peter Leverett says it was always the plan to “cautiously build the business”. However, it had a pretty stellar first half of 2015 with a 57% increase in client deals and a 140% increase in floor space transacted. “To meet this growth we continue to look for great people,” says Leverett.
At the Scottish-based retail agency Culverwell partner James Godfrey explains their response to a scarcity of good young people has been a ‘grow your own’ approach. It also continues a close relationship with Edinburgh’s Heriot Watt University, sponsoring a prize for a third year land management student and now launching a summer placement to give a student a taste of agency life “warts and all” says Godfrey.
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