GGP CEO Talks Streamlined, Reinvigorated Retail REIT

Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of retail REIT GGP (NYSE: GGP), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview at REITWorld 2014: NAREIT’s Annual Convention for All Things REIT at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

Mathrani reflected on his tenure as CEO after taking charge of GGP during a transition period for the company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2009. He said his chief goal has been to “reinvigorate” GGP, including both its property portfolio and staff. He noted that he has made a great effort to build an “appropriate” culture within the firm.

“I’m a big believer of having the right culture within the organization,” he said. “I believe having a winning culture gets a winning team.”

Mathrani listed some of the keys to stabilizing the company in the last four years. GGP has decreased its employee base from 3,500 people to approximately 2,000. The firm also downsized its portfolio from roughly 240 assets to 140 and approximately 170 malls to 120.

“We feel we’re a much more streamlined company today,” Mathrani said.

Mathrani also speculated on the future of the retail sector. He predicted that the sector actually won’t undergo as much change in the near future as many observers appear to believe it will.

“There were bazaars in 600 B.C., and there will be bazaars 600 years after I die,” Mathrani said.

He said he expects to see more “seamless integration” between online and offline shopping. That would include buying goods online and picking them up at retail outlets, as well as researching products online and purchasing them in stores. Mathrani also said retail centers could start to add more entertainment and food options and begin to “further emphasize their presence to create more of a customer experience.”

In terms of the top objectives for GGP going forward, the firm is looking to focus on “hub” malls and urban retail properties in gateway cities, according to Mathrani. He pointed out that GGP will remain focused on North America, too.