Why Hyprop’s purpose has never been more important

People connecting with each other is one of our most basic needs, and yet as humankind “modernises”, it’s a value that’s in increasingly short supply.

So, why is this and what is Hyprop doing that could make a difference to the people who visit our centres?

The social dynamics behind growing disconnection are many and perhaps the “exponential catalyser” in recent years has been technology and more specifically the growth of social media (“SOME”).

While technology and SOME clearly enable connectivity, they also paradoxically disrupt physical connection. It may be true that many people have more “friends” than before but have fewer companions – and that’s perhaps no surprise because when we talk “connectivity”, the assumption is it’s about Wi-Fi or the internet.

The years since 2020 have accelerated disconnectedness: Covid-19 and lockdowns shuttered economic activity across the globe, forcing people into isolation and fuelling personal anxiety and loneliness.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other geo-political tensions have compounded Covid-19’s economic damage, further rattling supply chains, slowing growth and pushing inflation upwards.

In South Africa, service delivery failures and rising social tension fuel frustration with intermittent energy supply and a struggling economy, all of which dampen consumer confidence and spending.

Apart from socio-political disruption, e-commerce was already opening up new opportunities for retailers and shoppers, and it’s a process that has gathered momentum since Covid-19 across many activities and areas of human engagement.

It’s in this disrupted, disconnected world that Hyprop’s centres have renewed meaning, and why our purpose – Creating spaces and connecting people – has never been more relevant.

Customer visits to shopping centres are settling back to pre-pandemic levels, although dwell times have changed in some cases and the purpose of visiting centres is evolving too. People want and need to visit centres, but the reasons why are shifting.

E-commerce is changing the way goods are bought and sold, and the pandemic challenged the logic of large, closed public spaces. But these behavioural shifts are themselves part of a much broader realignment. Climate change, sustainability, accountability and governance, and mental health and wellness are some of the issues and values guiding the emergence of a more caring, inclusive culture.

While our shopping centres are the spaces where people can connect, it’s our culture of connection within Hyprop which helps create spaces where people do connect.

It starts with us!

Our internal aspirational culture is taking shape, and it’s aligned with Hyprop’s strategy, objectives and purpose. We have made improvements to our organisational design, tools and services to empower our people to make better decisions, which in turn helps to create the customer-centric experiences that differentiate our shopping centres.

Our values are the core of the Hyprop culture, and our culture helps us deliver our purpose – it defines the way we are, and the way we create spaces. In this way, our retail centres become spaces much more than places to shop.

Creating spaces and Connecting people
By owning, developing and managing a portfolio of dominant retail centers in mixed used precincts in key economic nodes in South Africa and Eastern Europe

A recent culture survey and leadership engagements have helped us identify behaviour patterns which will help us realise our purpose, and which won’t. We have identified priorities that will shift behaviour from what we don’t want to what we do want:

Culture and purpose

We understand our people will live the culture which must shape the way our centres operate and the experiences they create – and at a practical level, we will inculcate the essence of our purpose in all our employees as we transition to multi-purpose environments embracing leisure, retail, office, residential and cultural, at the same time seamlessly integrating the digital with the physical.

Our cultural journey is crucial if we are to deliver differentiated centres with common customer centric experiences, where people engage, connect and explore, and we embrace the changing values which are guiding our tenants and shoppers by adhering to three differentiating principles:

  • conscious retail ensures we design for people, planet and profit;
  • we create exceptional experiences across all customer touchpoints to excite and inspire our communities, and
  • in turn the communities we serve help us “keep it real”, authentic and grounded.