Vision & Strategy
URW develops and operates Flagship destinations. The Group owns and operates 87 shopping centres in Europe and the US. We believe that well connected prime assets in the best locations will thrive and continue to generate sustained rental income growth. The Group’s high-quality developments – like Westfield Mall of the Netherlands, Gaîté Montparnasse and Westfield Hamburg Überseequartier - will further enhance this position. The Group also owns and develops office buildings and owns and operates Convention & Exhibition venues in the Paris region.
The places created by URW help to shape and improve the cities where it operates. The Group aims to provide a seamless online-offline shopping experience, in an entertaining, contemporary and eco-friendly environment. We intend to make positive contributions to the social, environmental and economic well-being of our communities.
The Group’s strategy is based on three pillars: concentration, differentiation and innovation. These three pillars enable our mission, to “Reinvent Being Together”, an objective which has become even more meaningful in 2020. Our visitors have been isolated from one another due to the sanitary restrictions in place. We look towards a post-Covid-19 future expecting to see footfall rebound as people seek to reunite for unique experiences once more.
URW concentrates on the best assets in key cities. The Group’s operations are focused on Flagship destinations in the leading cities in Europe and the United States, large office buildings in the Paris region, select airports in the United States, and major Convention & Exhibition venues in and around Paris. This portfolio of high-quality assets and a strategy of active investment and divestment, development, leasing, and operating management drives URW’s growth.
URW differentiates by re-inventing the retail and user experience through outstanding services, bold digital marketing, unique architecture and design, premium retailers, and inspiring events. The Group participates in shaping and improving the cities in which it is present and has a major influence on how people live, work, shop, connect and are entertained. URW anticipates consumer trends and intends to make positive contributions to the social, environmental and economic well-being of its communities.
URW innovates by seizing technological opportunities to explore new business models, create value, generate growth, and stay ahead of the curve. As the best ideas can also come from outside the Group, its open innovation platform is set up to connect with leading experts, build partnerships with other corporates and think tanks, invest alongside venture capital funds and share new ideas and solutions.
More details in our URD.
Our vision & purpose
Our purpose and vision are the foundations on which we build our business.
Our purpose: Reinvent being together
Creating the time and space for people to be together is at the heart of who we are and what we do.
In today’s increasingly digital world, the opportunity to forge meaningful connections in person is more vital than ever.
Human beings want and need to be together, it is in our nature. Supporting this need in innovative ways is URW’s primary societal contribution.
In 2020, our purpose took a whole new dimension, as the pandemic prevented us from bringing people together in our locations. We invented new ways to reach out to them to maintain the precious human connections that lie at the heart of purpose. Seeing visitors flow back to our centres upon reopening was the best proof of the relevance of our purpose… and an encouragement to continue to “Reinvent Being Together”.
As the boundaries between where people work, relax, eat and sleep become ever more transient, URW is committed to creating destinations that integrate all these amenities ingeniously.
The destinations of tomorrow are vibrant and mixed. Premium residential, workspace, leading retail, popular events and exciting dining concepts provide the spaces in which people enjoy memorable experiences together.
Ultimately, we deliver our vision through our role as urban developers, transforming urban space and creating communities with a real sense of place.
Building the retail destinations of tomorrow
We design places in tune with new ways of life. Places that meet the needs of the modern urban consumer. Equipped with the latest trends, concepts and innovations, our mixed-use developments are well-connected and open to their surroundings.
We create retail destinations first and foremost. Then we enrich them with additions like modern workspaces, homes and hotels, spas and fitness clubs, and some of the largest and most sought-after food halls.
We imagine future-oriented, sustainable districts in which to live, work and get entertained. Places that blend authentically into local communities and create vibrant city hubs.
Transforming urban spaces
We are transforming urban spaces by creating an ambitious new generation of high-quality retail destinations and mixed-use districts in premium locations in Europe and in the US.
Here are some of our exciting current projects.
Les Ateliers Gaîté
Westfield Garden State Plaza
Our innovation strategy
Digital technology and changing consumer expectations have set the stage for a new era. Innovation is our strategy to navigate in an ever-evolving industry.
By offering destinations that meet changing customer needs and embrace clicks-to-bricks seamlessly, we aim to:
- be the preferred partner for digital-native and sustainable retailers entering the physical retail space
- design appealing destinations where people can shop, work, and get together to share memorable experiences
- continuously enhance our standards of service.
In the context of the global pandemic, we made it easier for visitors to plan their visits and be reassured as to their safety in our centres. The Pass@Westfield app was first used in the US, and then deployed in France to enable tenants and their customers to take the necessary social distancing measures in store. Curbside pickup and Drive services allowed tenants to keep selling their stock directly to their customers without delays at centralised warehouses.
By building an omnichannel marketplace that harnesses the power of digital and data to generate unprecedented value for cutting edge retailers, we will:
- leverage data and digital infrastructure to better interact with customers and create value
- generate more value from every square metre by merging online and offline logistics operations to meet omnichannel standards.
This year, when many sought retail therapy online, our partnership with Zalando was a key differentiator for URW. This partnership in Germany, Sweden, Poland and Spain, facilitated access to online retail sales in the Group’s shopping centres.
Our partnership with Too Good to Go also demonstrated the power of “phygital”. In 2020 our cooperation helped to save 22600 meals in Europe. Following this successful launch, URW has invested in Too Good to Go’s intended entry into the US market.
By leveraging new technologies to deliver operational excellence and set standards for the industry, we will:
- better manage buildings, reduce our carbon impact and create new revenue streams through Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud technologies.
A key development in 2020 has been the deployment of Deepki energy optimization platform solutions in France, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Germany and Spain. Deepki facilitates emissions monitoring and management to reduce the carbon footprint of real estate assets.
Curbside click & collect services
Responding to the challenge
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in the countries where URW operates, our primary focus has been to protect the health and safety of our employees, tenants and visitors at each of our locations.
But 2020 also turned lives upside down and transferred many of our daily interactions online.
With social distancing and self-isolation being the temporary norm, URW found new ways to stay true to its purpose “Reinvent being together” in a challenging year.
To help our shopping centre tenants keep their business going where restrictions allowed, we introduced a number of measures, such as:
• click & collect, or curbside collection services to ease pressures on centralized warehouses
• The Pass@Westfield app, an online booking service, to help customers and business owners manage congestion.
We have worked with Bureau Veritas, a global leader in testing, inspection, and certification services, to ensure the highest possible standards of hygiene, health and safety.
We embraced a programme of solidarity actions to stay connected and continue to share memorable experiences. These are just two of many:
Our #KindnessTogether campaign kept us in touch with our communities, reuniting families and friends online and bringing them joy, creativity and fun during lockdown.
Our #WorkingTogether campaign helped everyone prepare for the gradual resumption of activity, and to make our much-awaited reunion as enjoyable and safe as possible. You can read more about what our teams have been doing to support their communities in our stories.
In 2020, URW has demonstrated resilience in the most extreme operating conditions seen across our geographies.
Throughout 2020, we worked hand-in-hand with all of our tenants to weather the storm and prepare for the rebound. We worked out solutions to help our retailers operate with the restrictions and rebound as quick as possible. The appeal of our flagship destinations to leading and emerging retail players was confirmed.
In 2021, we continue to weather the storm together with our tenants and prepare for the future.
Thanks to the quality and location of our assets, URW is best placed to benefit from the economic rebound and capture the pent-up demand that months of restrictions have created.
Looking ahead, deleveraging is key a priority for us in the coming years and we have a clear timeline. We will achieve this through a strict control of investments, costs and through disposals. Thanks to our strong liquidity position and continued access to credit markets, the Group is able to carry out its disposal programme in an orderly fashion.
Looking beyond 2021, we have great confidence in the URW’s ability to succeed and a clear plan to restore attractive fundamentals, capitalize on economic recovery and deliver sustainable growth. We have the right team and the necessary financial means to reach these goals.
Looking further ahead – we will have a clear platform for sustainable growth centred on high quality assets and solid financial performance, with opportunities for value added growth through innovation and market leading use of data.