In late August, I attended a workshop hosted by Ross Elliott and the team at APP on the subject “Food: The New Retail Anchor“. Francis Loughran, the Founder and Managing Director of Future Food took us on a culinary design journey of recent projects and latest trends in consumer appetites and how to respond to them.

Francis is regarded as a food futurist and is widely acclaimed as Australia’s premier food and hospitality consultant, much in demand both locally and internationally. His collaborative work on major retail, commercial, leisure and mixed use developments has responded to the increase in customer demands for high quality food and service at affordable prices. Our appetite for restaurant quality dining has seen the emergence of themed dining precincts within shopping centres as an integral part of the retail experience. Gone are the days of the central food court offering different fast food meals in a cafeteria style environment. The consumer palette has now been educated to expect a dining experience while still meeting a budget.

Brian Wooldridge, from WSP Opus, Len Powe and Vaso Stojackovic of Ybern Access Management at the APP event.

An interesting part of Francis’ presentation was his introduction to the audience of Westfield “Destination 2028“. This new vision of retail offers an insight into the future of retail and how it may develop over the next 10 years. Central to the concept is for Westfield to “…continue to work closely with brands to deliver innovative retail spaces that create the ideal environment for them and our visitors – including developing technologies that converge digital and physical shopping to enhance that Extra-perience in state-of-the-art surroundings…As health and wellness continue to become a priority for consumers, the new concept also incorporates a ‘betterment zone’ where visitors can participate in mindfulness workshops while enjoying green spaces indoors and outdoors.”

Christian Sandstrom & Len Powe at the APP Food as Retail anchor event.

Clearly the intention is to make the future of retail a destination experience, making the shopping centre the community focus which brings together dining and entertainment as the new retail anchor.