Shopping Centers Today International

JAN 2016

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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Page 37 of 59

Poland a European star performer Fabrice Bansay, CEO, Apsys Poland Warsaw, Poland Poland is one of the fastest-growing Eu- ropean Union economies and enjoys a dominant position in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly when it comes to commercial real estate. The European Commission has predicted that the Polish economy will expand by 3.5 percent in 2016, surpassing the anticipated 2 percent real GDP growth rate for the European Union. The coun- try's unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since 2001. All of this provides a solid foundation for further expansion. Investment volume in retail assets in Poland is expected to reach a new record high in 2016. On the whole, Europe is facing a number of challenges simultaneously, including geopolitical tensions at its borders. But I'm optimistic about its economic outlook. The European Central Bank has decided to continue its quantitative-easing program at least until March 2017, which will stimulate demand for commercial real estate. The euro zone is likely to maintain a steady pace of recovery, and we may even see some acceleration. We specialize in shopping center development, investment and manage- ment and are very focused on France and Poland, where we have been operat- ing since the founding of Apsys Group in 1996. We have eight projects under development and 27 shopping centers under management. From Paris to Berlin to Warsaw, con- sumers visit malls today for experiences that go well beyond traditional shop- ping. To stay competitive, malls need to stay abreast of the latest trends in terms of interior design, new technolo- gies and customer services and to offer experiential elements, including res- taurants, leisure activities and culture. Our flagship retail investment in the Polish market, the Posnania shopping and lifestyle center, under development in Poznan, will provide shoppers and tenants with an omni-channel experi- ence. Through the use of geolocation technology and beacons, our custom- ers will be able not only to find their favorite brands more easily, but also to get personalized notifications about merchandise and special offers once they approach a store. Posnania is also the world's first mall project presented in virtual reality: By wearing a special headset, investors, stakeholders and po- tential tenants can "walk through" the planned center. Brazil outlook uncertain, consolidation looms Marcelo Carvalho, Co-President, Ancar Ivanhoe Shopping Centers Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Brazil is still in a recession. ABRASCE, Brazil's shopping center association, forecast that shopping center sales would grow by 3 percent in 2015, but inflation has been close to 10 percent. So real growth would be minus 7 percent if you account for inflation. Foot traffic in shopping centers has been consistent, so people are still going to malls. Shopping centers are very much a part of day-to-day life in Brazil, but peo- ple have less money in their pockets now. As a result, some retail categories are suf- fering more, and some less. This is a big country, and we've had our ups and downs before and will sur- vive. In fact, some international investors are taking advantage of the depreciation of our currency and buying opportunisti- cally here. We think transaction activity will increase as existing owners delever- age by selling part of their portfolios to pay down debt. This is still a very frag- mented industry in Brazil, with 40 per- cent of assets owned by 10 companies. So there is room for consolidation. Right now our company, which has 23 shopping centers in Brazil and has been in this business for 40 years, is fo- cused on marketing and taking advan- tage of our scale to do the deals that need to be done. We are concentrating on our existing portfolio rather than on growth through development, and we are open to buying existing centers. 38 S C T / J a n u a r y 2 0 1 6

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