Land Securities seals Google deal to combat web exodus
By Tom Bill
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's largest listed property company Land Securities has agreed a deal with internet search giant Google to drive business to its shopping malls.
The move is the latest initiative by a retail landlord to combat the growth of online shopping. Capital Shopping Centres Group announced this month that it is to invest in free wi-fi networks at its malls and open a fashion website through which shoppers can buy and collect goods from its centres.
The Land Securities tie-up with Google Product Search comes as the number of its retail units in administration - including Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster - rose from 1.8 percent at the end of September to 2.2 percent, the company said in a trading update on Wednesday.
The company will open its Trinity Leeds mall in March - the UK's only new mall this year. The mall is 90 percent pre-let and Land Securities Chief Executive Rob Noel said he was confident of success despite the weak retail climate.
"Retail is not dead. Retail is changing," he said. "There are 60 million people in this country that need to eat and wear T-shirts, and they have to get them from somewhere."
Against the backdrop of a growing number of retail failures, the British online market grew 14 percent in 2012, according to online retail industry body IMRG, which forecasts 12 percent growth to 87 billion pounds ($138 billion) in 2013.
"Some property companies were cynical about online, but more are taking their first steps get in front of the changes," said J.P. Morgan real estate analyst Harm Meijer. Continued...