REAL ESTATE - Alistair Hughes, chief executive officer for Europe at real estate specialist Jones Lang LaSalle, argues that commercial property is an important mid-term investment for institutional investors.

Speaking at the FT commercial property conference in London, Hughes said that the asset class is somewhere between bonds and private equity, and is a good mid-term investment that should be part of balanced portfolio of for instance pension funds from all over the world with large unspent allocations.

Discussing trends in retail property markets, John Travers, chief executive officer for Europe Middle-East and Asia at Cushman & Wakefield, urged the property industry to adapt to retailers which need to accommodate increasingly fragmented consumers.

Focusing for instance on economic horizons and market issues, the conference had a very global focus: "It is impossible to look at just one market, because increasingly it is global," said Michael Strong, executive chairman for Europe Middle-East and Asia at CB Richard Ellis.

According to Strong, the trends in occupier behaviour impacts on the real estate markets, as production is increasingly moving away from consumption: "The centre of gravity in Europe is moving eastwards."

Also Strong said that even though there is a certain "HQ loyalty", where companies remain in major cities, moving off-shore is still a large priority for many firms, with India, the Philippines, Poland and the Czech Republic being the most popular countries.

Nonetheless, there is a trend in which firms are going on-shore again, or at least moving closer to their hub operations, he said.

Also at the conference was Chris Bartram, chairman of Orchard Street Investment Management, who argued that currently there is a lot of confidence in the commercial real estate market.