AFI screens tenants, 30 stores left to fill

Newsroom 30/11/2009 | 00:00

Since the opening, mall developer AFI Europe has received requests from other retailers who want to open shops in the mall. With around 30 more stores to fill, Vizel says they are taking a cautious approach over what new tenants to welcome to the mall. “We are checking each retailer and unless we are wholly convinced that we want the retailer to be in this mall, we are not jumping on each offer we get,” he says. It was not a simple task for all the existing retailers in the shopping mall to open their stores there, given the financial difficulties of some. “There were some retailers for whom it was not easy to invest in the fitout and stock of products. But the majority of retailers understood that this was an opportunity for them and not being here would have been like giving up market share. I know of several tenants who made huge efforts to open a store in this mall – some of them even closed shops elsewhere to open here,” says the manager. There were other retailers who were initially supposed to open stores in the shopping mall but did not end up doing so, but Vizel says he doesn’t greatly regret that fact, and that many of those spaces have already been rented out to other firms. The flow of visitors to AFI Palace Cotroceni is around 70,000 on weekdays and increases towards the end of the week. The shopping mall has still to add some of the attractions it has promised, including a carting track, train, rollerblades track and XD simulator. The crowds who flocked to the shopping mall immediately after its opening took the owners by surprise, as the numbers were much higher than even their optimistic estimations. “We weren’t really ready to accommodate this huge number of people; we didn’t have enough tables and chairs. It was a surprise, but I prefer to deal with unexpected success than the other way around,” says Vizel. The mall owners reacted quickly: “Immediately we got several hundred tables and chairs. Some of the equipment is still on the way. We increased the number of cleaners, changed the operations strategy, hired more security staff and started to organize the parking area differently to improve the flow of cars,” he goes on.The developers are managing the shopping center by themselves. ”I don’t believe in outsourcing shopping center management, the owners themselves have to run it. You can never have a good result when somebody else is running your mall,” says the mall manager. The store rental structure involves either a basic rent or a percentage of turnover, whichever is the higher. The percentage is between 9 and 10 percent, but for entertainment may go up to 15 percent. “We are planning to have a much higher income from rent because of this turnover rent, and we are working with the retailers. If they reach the point when they have to pay the turnover rent, then their shop is going excellently,” says Vizel. The developer is working on its second shopping mall project, which will be located in Bucurestii Noi, a neighborhood mall with 20,000 sqm of GLA. “We still have to finalize the financing issue; we’re negotiating with the bank. Next in line will be the Ploiesti project,” concludes the manager. 
Corina Saceanu

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