New mall in recession-hit landscape

The Athens Metro Mall, the first indoor shopping complex in the capital’s southern suburbs, will open its doors for business at the end of the month, with its owners banking on a growing preference by Greeks for shopping at malls. The mall, owned by Talima Venture, will begin operating on November 30, just in time for the Christmas period, when retailers are hoping to make up some of the lost ground of the recession-hit year. Its total investment amounts to 75 million euros and the complex covers 21,500 square meters over five stories. Company officials say that solid demand from retailers and restaurateurs for retail space supports their optimistic plan. The company stopped short of providing any forecast targets, but stressed that 100 percent of the 85 stores and 18 restaurants that the mall accommodates have been leased. «There is even a small waiting list,» one company official told Kathimerini English Edition. Malls have been popping up across Athens at a fast pace in recent years and are showing more resilience to the downturn than their high-street competitors. A report from broker Southeast Real Estate earlier this year said that shopping malls outperformed the retail property sector in 2009, recording only marginal losses in turnover and rental values. A wide variety of attractions, such as cinemas and food outlets, as well as professional management by sector experts, are seen as drawing Greek shoppers from the city center and other suburban districts. «There is currently room for another four to five malls in Athens,» added another company source. Along with retailers such as Zara, Adidas and Folli Follie, two American-based food companies will be trying their luck in the Greek market for the first time in the Athens Metro Mall: Mexican-style fast-food chain Taco Bell and baked goods stores Cinnabon. The complex, which will also have five cinemas, is located next to Aghios Dimitrios metro station and will provide 1,000 new jobs. It targets a population of 500,000 people estimated to be within a 10-minute radius of its location.