Bobby Taubman, chairman, president and CEO of Taubman Centers, Inc. (NYSE: TCO), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview during REITWeek 2015: NAREIT’s Investor Forum, held in New York.
Earlier this year, A. Alfred Taubman, the company’s founder and father of the current CEO, passed away. Bobby Taubman touched on his father’s legacy, noting that his father’s architectural background became a core component of the company.
“The DNA of the company is that sense of planning that he had as an architect. It’s embedded in our culture throughout,” Taubman said. Going forward, Taubman said the company hopes to carry on his father’s spirit by “building really unique buildings that are really better, not just different.”
Taubman Centers’ portfolio consists of regional malls in major markets across the United States and Asia. The CEO discussed the challenges and opportunities of expanding within the Asian market.
“Understanding the cultures and the regulatory environment are really the most important things,” Taubman said. He noted that regulations, especially in China, can change dramatically and quickly, requiring the mall REIT to be prepared and flexible.
However, Taubman stressed that the company’s operating partners in China and South Korea have been “exceptional” and have allowed the company to meet many of those cultural and regulatory challenges. He added that Taubman Centers has built a team of more than 100 individuals in Asia, engaged in all aspects of the business.
Turning to the role of technology in the company’s future, Taubman said successful retailers will operate on multiple platforms. As a result, Taubman Centers has “embraced technology in every way,” he said.
Taubman added that all the evidence is pointing to brick-and-mortar stores remaining the heart of the retail experience. He noted that this is supported by the fact that online retailers, such as Amazon.com, are opening physical stores.
Taubman Centers is also embracing technology through the apps it is creating for visitors to its properties. At the same time, the firm is incorporating smart technology throughout its shopping centers, according to Taubman.
“There are endless chances with technology to become more efficient and more productive for our shareholders,” he said.