Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has launched a new network aimed at in-house surveyors, property managers and other property professionals working in the retail sector who are at the start of their careers, currently studying or transitioning to a new role.

The network, called Next Gen, is designed to provide a platform for peer-to-peer learning, knowledge sharing and networking. WBD launched the network at an event in London on 9 November, which gave attendees the chance to share opportunities and stories. Attendees discussed current hurdles they are facing and shared what good practices they have uncovered.

A second event, which took place on 22 February, focused on mitigating repair liabilities and in particular on the process for reducing liabilities on exiting a property (dilapidations). The session included guest speaker, James Batey, Head of Building Surveying at PMP, who provided practical insights into the process of assessing and defending liability. The event was attended by over 20 delegates from retailers such as Ann Summers, Lush, Metro Bank, Entain, B&Q and New Look.

Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive, with many expressing their appreciation for the opportunity to connect with peers and learn from experts in a relaxed and friendly setting. Some of the comments included:

"There’s been glowing feedback this morning, and I’m personally delighted to see these opportunities for members of my team that wouldn’t normally be included."

Sam Rickett MRICS, Property Portfolio Manager, Halfords Ltd.

"I found it to be really informative and interactive which is always the best way to learn (in my opinion), everyone seemed very approachable and friendly which makes for a great environment!"

Jade Ennis, Leasing Junior Manager, New Look Retailers Ltd.

"We all thoroughly enjoyed yesterday in your London office and found the afternoon really insightful. Nikki and Nesa were very helpful, the session was really informative and I would definitely like to do more in the future!"

Nichola Maskell, Acquisitions Assistant, Majestic Wine.

"It was really good to meet you all and I came away from the time together, feeling really grateful for the learning and intel you had kindly shared with us"

Fiona Pengelly, Property Co-Ordinator, B&Q Limited.

The network's next event takes place on 2 May and will cover the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. That will be followed by another event on 13 June, which will focus on landlord's repair covenants and consents both in the context of works, subleases and assignments. The events are open to all in-house surveyors and property professionals working in the retail sector, regardless of their level of experience or seniority.

Nikki Powell, Retail Partner at WBD, said:

"We are delighted to launch Next Gen, a network that aims to support and empower in-house property professionals in the retail sector. We recognise the value of peer-to-peer learning and networking, especially in an industry that is undergoing significant change and disruption. We hope that the network will provide a forum for our clients and contacts to share their insights, challenges and best practices, as well as to access relevant and practical legal guidance from our experts."