Hart talks about Trophaeum mix of luxury retail & lifestyle

3 MIN READFebruary 06, 2019
Walk down Albemarle Street in Mayfair, London, and you will find top fashion brands like Alexander Wang, Thom Browne and self-portrait. They will not be known to most real estate operators, but they are to Trophaeum, the real estate investor responsible for bringing these brands to London.

Despite the luxury shop fronts, Trophaeum defines itself as being more than a luxury retail investor. “We are urban investors, and our expertise in luxury is not only applied to retail investments but also to hotels, residential schemes, and top-end office products,” says Jared Hart, describing the investment approach of Trophaeum Asset Partners (TAP), of which he is managing director. In December 2018, Trophaeum launched a £10bn investment vehicle that is targeting urban property, including retail shops, hotels and restaurants, principally in London, Paris and Milan.

Formerly at Thor Equities, where he was managing director for five years from 2014, Hart describes what attracted him to join and lead TAP, the investment and development arm of family office Trophaeum Asset Management.  “I saw what Trophaeum had done to Albemarle Street. Trophaeum has curated the entire street - put the tenants, technology and retailers all together. They have been very careful about getting the mix right.”

Besides acquiring most of Albemarle Street, Trophaeum has also acquired most of St John’s Wood High Street in north-west London and similarly ‘curated’ it, including establishing a digital platform and adding restaurants, members’ clubs and gyms, and entwining that with retail.

“I’ve always been a believer in the shopping experience,” says Hart. “And as such we believe we are curating a lifestyle, more than just retail. You may give a little around the rent, in some cases, but you gain because you actually grow and improve the area, when you are the owner of a whole streetscape. The retailers win, because we improve the location, the shopping experience gets better, and the rents improve, enhancing the investment.” 

Urban faith

One aim at Trophaeum is to take the streetscape model and build it out in other cities. “We’re very bullish on London,” says Hart. “Despite everything going on with Brexit. We are big believers in the people and growth in the city.” Paris is also a place where Trophaeum sees plenty of growth, given the levels of investment going into the city and the forthcoming Summer Olympics, which Paris will host in 2024. 

“We’re really focused on Paris,” says Hart, who has had considerable experience of Paris during his career, buying properties on the Champs-Élysées, on Boulevard Haussmann and around Le Marais. “People say that Paris is so expensive but not if you believe in adding value. We really are urban investors, trying to go into locations where we feel like we can take that old hotel, that old restaurant, that old retail shop, and maybe do something better for the area and bring about change.”

Hart’s logic is based on a firm belief in urbanisation, technology, despite the disruption being caused by e-commerce. The idea is to buy in locations where there is intrinsic value - where rents are going up, not just because of rent reviews, but because of demand. “On the Champs-Élysées, for example, you had the government investing into the street,” says Hart. “You had an increasing, young population. And you had more brands than ever wanting to be on the street. Population, technology and infrastructure: those are the three things that drive growth in an urban location.”

Finding the ‘next street’

Another part of Trophaneum's strategy is to look opportunistically for buildings that are under-managed, tired or in need of regeneration, besides helping operators find properties in particular locations -  buying out of demand rather than any need to spend. As such, Trophaeum has a portfolio of trophy buildings in other London locations, like New Bond Street, and elsewhere in Europe, such as in Via Montenapoleone and Via Sant’Andrea in Milan, Italy. 

“We’re looking for what we call the ‘next streets’, the streets that are becoming cool. We are looking for the new and emerging areas where we can go in as the first mover, where we can buy a few buildings, create a story, and then move on”, says Hart.

Typically, Trophaeum’s target demographic is tech-savvy millennials. “It’s the people who are currently using their phone to buy online, but they’re liquid,” says Hart. “They want to go out and have an experience.” 

Jared Hart admits that they are not totally immune from the pressures of e-commerce that are affecting the retail sector, but he sees technology as a positive driver. “We’re using a huge amount of technology, not just for investment purposes, but for online marketing and aftercare too,” says Hart. “We don’t buy an asset and just sit on it. We work very closely with our tenants to make sure that there is an environment of sustainable rents for their business enterprises."

Real estate trends and sectors, including retail, hotels and offices, will be discussed further at France GRI 2019 on 9-10 April in Paris, at  British & Irish GRI 2019 on 15-16 May in London, and at Italia GRI 2019 on 22-23 May in Milan.
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