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Patrick Delcol takes on new position as Head of Pan-European Retail

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After five years as CEO of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) for BNP Paribas Real Estate, Patrick Delcol has recently been appointed Head of Pan- European Retail. Here he talks about his objectives and challenges in his new role and how the retail sector is undergoing a new cycle.

Can you tell us more about how you arrived at BNP Paribas Real Estate?

Five years ago I had the chance to meet Lauric Leclerc, who launched the CEE operations for BNP Paribas Real Estate. He approached me and asked if I would be interested in helping to boost that activity. We then carried out an initiative which involved recruiting 42 people over a period of 12 months to strengthen our capacities within advisory and property management. I can now say that we achieved our objectives, through hard work and many ups and downs. I am happy to say that the CEE operation has now been put on the map. There are of course now further challenges to face, particularly with regards to strengthening our Czech Republic operation.

Why did you decide to take on this new role?

I believe I have the energy for it. I am also drawn to the fact that I will be working with a variety of people from different cultures and nationalities and faced with a new kind of professional challenge.

Can you tell me more about your new role and what it involves?

An opportunity came up to take on a new role which didn’t exist before but will drive forward the retail strategy within BNP Paribas Real Estate. Retail is an asset class which I am incredibly passionate about. This role is certainly going to offer me a very interesting new challenge. This new job is very different from my last one in BNP Paribas Real Estate which is what drew me to it. I will be in charge of co-ordinating all of the retail teams across Europe, to make sure that we are structuring communication between the different teams and countries. It is one of my aims in this new role to ‘connect the dots’ and ensure that we are leading the way in retail across Europe.

At the moment retail is being questioned in terms of how it will respond to the growing use of digital technology. I think this makes it an interesting time to be involved in the sector as it is a new cycle, which means the sector is very dynamic. We can however take advantage of this situation, and come into the market with a fresh way of looking at it as at present we need more understanding of the market from a consultancy point of view. I think that digital influence is very positive, it has given consumers much more ability than they had, say 10 years ago. This does make them more demanding as they are looking for products at the best price, with the most positive reviews. What we can’t deny however it that the digital world on its own cannot replace brick and mortar, so it’s interesting to see how retail is adapting to that in this new cycle.

What new challenges will you now be taking on?

The first challenge is an educational one, by that I mean getting colleagues who haven’t been involved in retail to understand the importance of this asset class. We could say that retail in comparison to logistics and residential is like the ‘small child’ of the family, and I believe that this small child needs to grow and be given more attention.

The second challenge concerns data. Data management for retail is extremely important, understanding how retailers are functioning and performing has a direct influence on the asset that we are selling. We need to focus much more on the reliability and the offer of the occupier. The more data that we can collect, the better we can understand the asset and the potential of the portfolio which the occupier is operating with.

What kind of strategy will you be putting in place?

I think I will spend the first few weeks thinking of and outlining the strategy, in order to establish a strong business plan over a three year period. I will use these initial weeks to get a greater understanding of the situation and objectives.

What are your short term objectives?

One short term objective is to carry out this ‘connecting the dots’ initiative, making sure that teams, for example in the UK are able to easily speak to the teams in Germany, Italy, Spain or wherever it may be. There has already been great efforts made to carry this out for leasing but for investment we need to ensure this happens. Having this way of working, means that our teams are talking to each other and asking each other for help, which is vital when reaching out to each other’s investor networks.

The next objective is to set up small strategies with relation to different areas. In finance for example, what is the budget? In marketing, how will we go about branding it? In HR, where do we go for recruitment? This will give us a greater overview and set goals for what we want to achieve.

What will success in your new role look like?

Working our way up to be the leading retail provider in the market. I think over the next five years there is a lot of room to catch up with the competition on the pan-European market.

Are you ready to make the move from Warsaw to Paris?

Warsaw has been a fantastic city to live in, it has been constantly growing and changing and the infrastructure has been drastically improving and developing. I adopted the Polish citizenship during my 22 years in Poland, so I became a Belgian Pole or a Polish Belgian .

On the other hand, I never had the chance to stay in Paris for more than a few days, even as a Belgian.I’m therefore excited to discover what Paris may offer me.

Our children  moved away from home a couple of years ago and my wife and I are now somewhat nomadic! My family and children are based in Brussels, so I imagine we will spend a lot of time moving between there, Warsaw and Paris. So  So with  Warsaw,it is more of a see you soon than a goodbye.

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