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

SPR Site Visit: Bluewater Shopping Centre, 9th March 2018

A dozen SPR members enjoyed a two-hour visit to the landmark shopping centre, led by Landsec, the property’s joint owners and managers.

Robert Hardie, (Senior Portfolio Manager, Retail), Craig Flanders (Portfolio Surveyor) and Jennie O’Connell (Senior Consumer Insights Manager) shared their knowledge of the centre in a presentation at the start of the visit.

They explained how the centre is constantly being refreshed with the entry of new tenants, particularly international brands, and through changes in the design of the units. Successful online retailers are being encouraged to take space, as in the case of Missguided – shown below – which has opened one of just two UK stores here.  Shop units are gradually growing in size as more retailers are looking for a showroom function as part of their multi-channel offer, not just selling space.

Consumer research is of great importance for Landsec, as a way of understanding how the centre’s guests use it and feel about it, from the stores they visit through to the public facilities and catering services they use.  Combining this with demographic and lifestyle information, Landsec have built up a detailed profile of the typical Bluewater visitor.  One conclusion of this research has been that a Primark store needs to be added to the tenant mix, and indeed warrants the construction of a special 62,000 foot space on one side of the centre.  Another finding was that visitors would like more Asian food in the catering offer and less Italian.

The managers are constantly looking to boost visitor numbers and raise dwell-times, not just through the range of shopping but also from other attractions.  For instance, the last few summers a Bluewater beach has been created next to the centre and has proved hugely popular with families, who form a big share of its guests.

After the presentation, the Landsec team, including General Manager Robert Goodman, who has worked at the centre since it opened in 1994, led a tour, which highlighted some key examples of retail space innovations, such as the redesign of Next with an external glass wall to allow natural light in, and the Tesla car showroom.  SPR members also benefited from the chance to question the team further during the tour.

Primark’s unit under construction.

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