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Novaston’s Regional Expansion and New Ventures in 2024

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Mia Zečević, CEO of Novaston, provides an overview of the real estate market in Serbia while announcing an exciting regional expansion.

After a decade dedicated to retail projects in Serbia and the region, Novaston is continuing its strategic realignment towards other segments of the real estate market.

While a part of the team is actively engaged in projects in Croatia, negotiations are underway for new ventures in Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia.

Mia Zečević explains how the retail and commercial real estate market is progressing in  Serbia and how this has inspired them to take on a proactive role as initiators of change.

Novaston has already become a recognizable name in the management of retail parks and shopping centers. How do you assess the current market situation?

We are witnessing significant and challenging geopolitical turbulence that is leaving a global mark on almost all business segments.

This impact is particularly pronounced in the retail real estate sector, whose development in Serbia has always depended on the influx of new brands entering the country. This trend has significantly slowed down in the last three years, affecting all levels of the retail market.

On the other hand, the concept of retail parks has proven much more resilient to crises compared to shopping centers. Consequently, many new projects of this form are expected to come to life in the coming years. However, we will soon face saturation in the market with this concept, especially considering the uncertainty of the current political situation and its influence on the survival of existing retailers and the entry of new ones.

Survival in these demanding times primarily depends on flexibility, the ability to adapt to changes, and to diversify content, making changes inevitable in all fields. Novaston’s policy is not to wait to feel the impact of external changes but to proactively initiate change, which is why we have made a significant shift in our business towards new real estate ventures.

What is the situation regarding business space, and will “work from home” or the hybrid model survive? What are Novaston’s plans in this market segment?

Regarding business space in Serbia, research shows that the market still has room for development, with significant potential.

This is especially evident when we compare the office space market in Serbia with neighboring countries. The square meter prices in these countries, especially in Hungary and Romania, are more or less similar to Serbia, but the availability of business space is much higher there, sometimes even more than double. The only place where office space is “cheaper” is in Croatia’s capital Zagreb.

The market for business space has undoubtedly been influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave rise to the global phenomenon of remote work and later, the “hybrid” work model. Initially, employers saw this working method as a cost-effective benefit, and at one point, the results showed that efficiency was at a high level. However, in the long run, it proved not to be all that great for some businesses. There was an issue with a sense of belonging or “connectedness” among employees, prompting large firms and corporations to gradually bring their employees back to offices.

Of course, all of this depends on the nature of the company’s operations, and accordingly, we believe that this “hybrid” model will establish itself as a form of business. Therefore, we actively collaborate with our clients to find the optimal option for them, offering multifunctional business spaces adaptable to the company’s needs and activities.

What are Novaston’s plans for the upcoming period?

After ten years of dedication to retail projects in the country and the region, we continue to expand towards other segments of the real estate market, as initially planned before the pandemic.

Our particular focus will be on the office and residential sectors, and we are actively preparing a completely new business concept that we will soon introduce to the domestic market.

In line with this business strategy, we have finalized our collaboration with our longstanding client CPI PG on STOP SHOP retail park projects. The collaboration lasted nearly ten years, and our entire team, together with the investor and local representatives, is credited for making STOP SHOPs in Serbia consistently among the best compared to other European countries.

On the other hand, we will not completely turn our backs on the retail segment where our company was born and developed. We will continue to manage ongoing retail projects in a professional and modern manner, which yielded excellent results in 2023 despite the global crisis, while simultaneously developing new projects that will come to life in the coming year.

An exciting year awaits us, where we will undoubtedly lay the foundation for new successes for our company and our clients.

For more information about Novaston visit: novaston.com

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