Retail SEE Group talked to Dušan Miletić, Head of the Retail Sector at CBS International, about the latest shopping center trends and retailer expansion strategies in Serbia.
Belgrade is becoming an exciting retail destination in South East Europe. Over the years, the Serbian capital has attracted interest from many international brands expanding their presence in the region.
The modern retail stock in Belgrade has increased since the beginning of the year, and now stands at a level of around 380,000 sqm. The market is undergoing the expansion of new retail developments that make it increasingly appealing to renowned global brands.
What are the latest trends in retail space leasing?
A new focus and investments in entertainment, as part of a strategy to keep visitors at shopping centers longer, has led to major changes in the global retail landscape. To surpass the traditional way of shopping, investors and mall owners are trying to transform malls into entertainment hubs, that include facilities such as playrooms, cinemas, and fitness clubs. Due to the continuous growth of online shopping, they are also focusing more on offering quality deals in stores, through various immersive concepts. These new concepts come in various forms - we now have fashion stores where customers are able to have coffee or tea, or try clothes in simulated weather conditions.
The latest research shows almost a third of visitors will return to a shopping center to visit a coffee shop or a restaurant, which is why the F&B component has become very important.
In order maintain brand awareness among their customers, global brands use omni channel marketing tools, where sales are promoted through online stores, social networks, catalogs, media and other channels, in addition to retail stores.
What is the supply and demand like in the retail sector in Serbia?
Bearing in mind that Belgrade has been lagging behind other capital cities in the region in terms of its retail offer, it is encouraging to see that the city is gaining primacy in this segment. Many brands are opening their stores in Belgrade for the very first time, while existing retailers are looking to expand their presence in new locations. The lack of available retail space has, until recently, hampered the arrival of many international brands but the construction of several new retail schemes indicates the market is on the road to recovery.
What are the most commonly used retail location strategies?
All brands are seeking visible and highly frequent locations. A store location is always important, especially for flagship stores positioned in popular, high-footfall areas in city centers.
However, shopping malls with adequate space represent an equally good choice. Some of our clients have been waiting more than a year to find the right space to launch business operations in Serbia. It only goes to show how important the retail location really is.
CBS International has brokered lease agreements for many global brands in Serbia. What are your plans for the coming period?
We are pleased to say that we have provided assistance to more than 30 global brands in closing lease agreements within the newly opened ADA MALL.
The opening of the first Starbucks coffee shop in Belgrade, as well as the Kihel’s, The Body Shop, Nespresso stores and the upcoming opening of the first Decathlon store, will help toward narrowing the gap between Belgrade and more developed European cities.
Furthermore, the opening of new shopping centers in Belgrade will enhance the activities in the retail market and facilitate the expansion of global brands in Serbia.
In the next two years, Belgrade's retail offer will be enriched with two large-scale projects, BW Galerija and Beo Shopping Mall, as well as with two smaller formats - West65 Mall and Big Fashion Park.
The expansion of retail parks is also noticeable in smaller cities. With the opening of Kruševac Shopping Park, the retail park network in Serbia now consists of 25 developments accounting for over 30 % of the total modern retail space supply.
What is the impact of new shopping center construction on high street retail?
Even though shopping centers are considered as the first choice for buyers due to their integrated offer and easy accessibility, both high street and city centers are still very significant locations for retailers due to their unique settings and tourist attractions that generate substantial footfall.
CBS INTERNATIONAL: THE MARKET LEADER IN SERBIA
The leading real estate consultancy company CBS International is part of Cushman & Wakefield Group, one of the largest global real estate consultancy companies, operating with over 45,000 employees in more than 70 countries worldwide.
CBS International has entered the second decade of its business operations as the absolute market leader in Serbia. This July, the company announced that it has achieved record-breaking revenues in Serbia for the 9th consecutive year.
At the moment, CBS International is a representative of 34 exclusive projects in all segments of the real estate market, among which are some of the largest buildings such as Skyline, Business Garden, Central Garden, Wellport and Moj Aviv.
In Serbia,the CBS International team of experts consists of 85 professionals, of which 55 percent are licensed brokers. The company is also present in Croatia, North Macedonia, and Montenegro.
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