- October 1, 2021: Vol. 13, Number 9

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Retail referendum: What’s the future direction of the retail sector in the Asia Pacific region?

by Alex Frew McMillan

Boarded-up shop fronts. “For Rent” signs. Empty shells. Rolled-down metal screens that for all we know won’t open again. Reports of the death of Asian retail real estate are an exaggeration. But it has been on life support as Asia stumbles through a protracted pandemic with no clear endgame. Just when one Asian economy appears to be surfacing, it gets swamped by yet another wave.

Ask many institutional investors about mid-term prospects, and they’ll cite retail and hotels as the sectors that they’d most like to avoid as a result. Retail space is a tough sell right now and requires smart property management and investment. The difficulty and price weakness, of course, are exactly why smart investors can find opportunity, with less competition for assets.

This requires deal-by-deal pickiness and much expertise. “The challenges facing retail properties cannot be fixed overnight,” admits Allan Lee, head of Asia (ex-China) at Schroders Capital Real Estate Asia

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