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TORONTO-Nothing is immune to change. With fads and shopping trends constantly evolving, retail chains are doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the game.

Industry leaders at CBRE’s World Conference in Toronto addressed that evolution at a breakout session called “The Changing Retail Landscape: Top 10 Trends” Thursday afternoon. Jerome Griffith, president of fashion label Esprit North America, joined Annette Healey, first VP of CBRE’s New York tri-state region retail services team, Nena Mass, first VP of CBRE, along with moderator Anthony Buono, executive managing director of CBRE’s retail services.

Griffith pointed to three aspects that his company–which has 750 total stores globally–remains aware of in the ever-changing retail market. The first is that there is constant change to keep up in the retail sector. For Esprit, this means changing products once a month to keep up with consumer’s needs. He also pointed to the changing effect the Internet has on retail business. “The customer becomes a lot more important,” he said when referring to online customers’ ability to have voice their needs to the fashion chain. The third aspect he noted was that the clothing industry is flat and even shrinking as lifestyles continue to change, which in turn, heightens competition.

Healey noticed that American retail chains and manufacturers are expanding globally–moving into the Asia-Pacific market to keep up with competition. She pointed to India as being the largest place of opportunity for retailers in the next 50 years.

“Companies have to grow at an international level,” Griffith said. “You must be savvy in other countries and their culture in order to adapt well.”

Mass, whose primary focus has been providing surplus property disposition services for retailers on a regional or national platform, explained that it is important to keep in mind that when growing on an international level, companies need to maintain the same identity in all geographic locations. Griffith agreed that when building global brands, companies must do everything the same to maintain a brand image in order to succeed.

Although there were questions referring to speculation of a retail recession at the session, panelists only noted that there is a chance of one. Mass said that “there’s going to be a real slow down” due to the affects of the credit market and how that affects the way consumers spend money.

CBRE’s World Conference brought together more than 3,000 CBRE professionals and clients from more than 25 countries around the world to discuss a wide range of subjects and issues germane to commercial real estate.

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