ECONOMY

Shopping centers dominate commercial property market

The commercial property market is brimming with activity, particularly in the retailing sector, both in interest and in action. A recent report by real estate consultancy Danos & Associates shows that shopping centers are at the focus of interest these days, while the office market remains stable, as more new and modern buildings are used by the companies which own them and who continue with their development. «The absolutely successful operation of The Mall Athens as well as the commercial park of the Athens airport, with the participation of Ikea, Kotsovolos, the new Factory Outlet and recently France’s Leroy Merlin, have rekindled interest in developing commercial spaces,» says Danos & Associates in its report, which represents the well-known international firm CB Richard Ellis in Greece. The major commercial brands involved in the market have entered a race to secure the best possible spots. The market is also dominated by the constant expansion of foreign brands that have recently arrived in Greece, such as Germany’s Media Markt, which will open its fourth store on Thivon Avenue in western Athens, as well as chains which are scanning the local market in order to penetrate it. These categories include companies such as Fnac, Bijoux, Foot Locker, Skhuaban, Zara Home, Kotton and Geox. The entry of Sweden’s H&M is also notable, with its first outlet on Stadiou Street and the second planned for the extension of the anticipated «Avenue» mall in Maroussi. The expansion of the already existing chains, combined with the entry of new companies, is increasing competition in all sectors, with the «Do-It-Yourself» market being a case in point: Fourlis Group has brought Leroy Merlin to Greece, aiming at challenging the domination of Praktiker in this domain. Kathimerini also understands that Germany’s OBI, which belongs to the Tengelmann Group which runs the 18 Plus supermarket stores in Greece, is ready to enter the market. The new era of the Minion department store in central Athens is eagerly anticipated, too. Reconstruction work on the historic store is at the final stage, while its ownership status is significant, too, given the interest by the Laskaridis group in acquiring a stake. Minion is expected to host various brands of affordable products. Its owner, Elmec, also controls 50 percent of the Attica department store in Syntagma Square. Greek companies, too, are gearing up for expansion. Sprider Stores intends to expand its number of outlets to 85 across Greece, adding another 25 by 2011. It recently opened its first store in Bucharest, with Cyprus being its next step. Germanos is about to expand its network as well. The Cosmote subsidiary will start with the renovation of its neoclassical building on Syntagma Square to host the first «Public Store,» and then it aims to expand its network to 500 sale points from 339 outlets today. Big supermarket chains with presence across Greece, such as Carrefour Marinopoulos, Aldi, Lidl, Plus Hellas and AB Vassilopoulos are considering or implementing an expansion of their networks, while other retailers, such as Ikea, Ilektroniki Athinon and Zara are preparing new stores in Greece (Patras, Ioannina, Larissa) and the Balkans. The successful operation of the first organized shopping complexes and the great demand from domestic and foreign chains have paved the way for the development of more shopping centers in the capital. Major malls Besides the commercial park at the airport, eastern Attica will host two more commercial developments: At Spata, in the area of Yalou, MacArthur Glen is proceeding to build its first «discount shopping village» of 125 stores, while at Kantza, LSGIE is planning the construction of a 110,000-square-meter shopping center. Furthermore, Pasal Development of the Theodoridis group is developing a shopping center of 20,000 sq.m. at 180 Piraeus Road. Lamda Development is planning its second mall in Maroussi, on the site of the International Broadcasting Center, while also seeking ways to use its plot at Spata. Sanyo-Carrefour is to expand its shopping center on Kifissias Avenue, to be named «Avenue.» Another mall will be constructed at Galatsi, within the context of utilizing Olympic installations, by the consortium of Sonae Sierra and Acropol Haragionis, with a total surface of 38,100 sq.m. The entry of Babis Vovos International Technical in the mall market has also been notable, with the 70,000 sq.m. development at Votanikos, in the heart of the area to be transformed by the construction of the new Panathinaikos sports ground. Finally, the market is watching closely the tender for the plot at the Olympic Village in Thrakomacedones destined for commercial uses, with two consortiums (TEV-Aktor, and J&P Avax – GEK Terna – Vioter) in the running.