Aleksey Pashunov, Amstor: UAH 150 Million Invested in Re-launch of the Shopping Centres


Director of Amstor Retail Group about the company's new shopping centre, the situation with other shopping malls, development plans and many other topics.

In mid-September, Amstor Retail Group is preparing to open a new shopping centre in Berdiansk, Zaporozhye region. What the shopping centre will be like, why the company chose the city that is far from the largest and most famous cities in Ukraine, who will become the key tenants of the shopping mall and how centres in other cities are developing, the director of Amstor Retail Group Aleksey Pashunov told to RAU.

- Please, tell us about the new Amstor shopping centre in Berdiansk, its area and its features?

- As early as this autumn, a renovated Amstor shopping centre having the total area of almost 12,000 square meters and a parking for 500 cars will open its doors for residents and guests of Berdiansk. About 30,000 people reside within a radius of one kilometer. Berdiansk is a resort city, and in summer the number of inhabitants increases several times. Given the location of the shopping centre, it is simply impossible to pass by it without calling in: the road leading to the railway and the bus stations runs by the shopping mall. Opposite to the shopping centre there are lots of hotels and other infrastructure important for the city.

- Are there any anchor tenants in the shopping centre, who will be represented in it?

- As in all the shopping centres of the chain, the key tenant will be Silpo food supermarket. Now we are at the final stage of negotiations with retailers in the electronics segment. In addition, contracts are concluded with drogerie operators, service providers, a pharmacy and a restaurant. Moreover, we are in the active phase of negotiations with a children's entertainment centre. The selection of tenants will enable us to offer all daily (and not only) goods and services to consumers.

- Why did you choose Berdiansk, which, mildly speaking, is not the most popular city among Ukrainian retailers?

- In recent years, and not only in the summer period, the resorts of Berdiansk received much more visitors than before. We can say with confidence that this fact will contribute to the constant flow of visitors to the shopping centre. In addition, Amstor has been working in Berdiansk for several years, but in a different format.

Since the real estate market in Berdiansk has a shortage of quality retail space, in the course of the chain’s reconception we decided to revive this shopping centre. Based on the analysis of applications received from potential tenants, we came to the conclusion that Berdiansk shopping mall would be in high demand.

- How are things with other Amstor shopping centres: how many of them operate and in what cities?

- Currently Amstor chain has 12 shopping centres located in the eastern and central regions of the country. The total area of shopping centres is more than 170,000 square meters. All of them underwent the processes of reconception, and we have four centres of shopping and entertainment format: two in Zaporozhye, one in Mariupol and one in Melitopol. The chain also has a shopping mall of the European format, which we achieve by making contracts with international brands such as JYSK, Reserved, Columbia and others. The format of the thematic shopping centre with focus on sports is represented in Nikolaev, thanks to the location of GYM STYLE sports centre having an area of 1,500 square meters.

In one of the shopping malls in Mariupol, a format new for the region is implemented – presence of three leading electronics operators in one shopping centre. Other formats include shopping centres of daily purchases, family leisure, for which tenants are chosen according to the principle of the consumer basket, namely: food, pharmacy, household services and so on. The new Amstor shopping centres in Berdiansk and Severodonetsk will also continue the concept of daily shopping malls with several anchor operators that will be offering grocery retail, an electronics segment, a children's entertainment centre and everyday consumer goods.

- What is the vacancy rate of your shopping centres?

- The total vacancy level of all shopping centres in the chain is not more than 3%.

- How is the situation with attendance: is it growing or remains at the same level, in comparison with previous years?

- The attendance is definitely growing. Now the average figure for the chain is 1.7-1.9 million visitors monthly. We managed to achieve an increase in the number of loyal visitors due to customer orientation and a successful pool of tenants, the introduction of a marketing strategy, and the refurbishment of shopping centres, which made them as comfortable for visitors as possible.

- What is the situation with attendance regionwise: in which cities Amstor shopping centres are more popular and in which less?

- The situation with attendance is fairly even throughout the chain. All the shopping centres show approximately equal results. In many respects due to the fact that when selecting tenants we take into account the economic situation in a particular region and its peculiarities.

- What do you consider as potential for increasing the attractiveness of Amstor shopping centres?

- The modern rhythm of life dictates its conditions, and it is not so easy to allocate time for shopping. Therefore, we offer to our visitors to buy all the necessary goods and services without leaving the shopping centre. In addition, we take care of the comfort for our guests. Arrangement of free Wi-Fi areas in the shopping malls has been completed. In the near future, we plan the organization of recreational areas and areas for charging of visitors' gadgets.

- How did the reconception of the shopping centres go? What exactly did it consist of and what were the stages of the reconception?

- Two years ago, our company completely left the grocery retail segment and took its business niche in real estate management. Having one anchor tenant and cash zone to our credit, we were able to open up the potential of the shopping centre and to turn it into a multifunctional shopping facility of a microdistrict/district format.

Smart-Holding industrial and investment group invested more than UAH 150 million in re-launch of Amstor shopping centres. Thanks to that the infrastructure of the shopping chain was completely upgraded. As a result, we were able to offer new tenants high-quality areas for rent, and high-quality client service as well as a variety of outlets for shopping.

- What challenges did you encounter during the implementation?

- Thanks to the coordinated actions and professionalism of our team, we have overcome the process of reconception without major challenges. As early as at the stage of concept development, we took into account all the risks and factors that could affect the possibility of reconception for the shopping centres. Initially, we saw the potential in re-launching the shopping malls' chain and took the maximum efforts for its implementation.

- Have you managed to achieve the planned results?

- The increase in the number of visitors to Amstor shopping centres’ chain, as well as the interest of tenants towards our centres, speaks of the effectiveness. Our shopping mall in Zaporozhye is the only one that hosts such clothing brands as Gloria Jeans and LPP group, JYSK. In the near future, Columbia brand store will start operating in Amstor shopping centre in Kremenchug. Negotiations with Collins, which also plans to open in this shopping centre, are at the final stage. These factors speak about the rightly chosen development vector, which we will follow further on.

- How do you attract tenants and visitors to your shopping centres? Do you organize any sales promotions, events, festivals, holidays?

- When developing our marketing strategy, we were following the principle: "from shopping to happing". The idea is not only to enable the visitors to buy the necessary goods, but also to entertain them, to turn everyday activities into rest. Based on the data obtained from the marketing research, we made a portrait of our potential buyers, and when planning any activities we take into account to what extent this or that step will be of interest to our guests.

- Do you plan to build new Amstor shopping centres, and if so, which regions are the priority for you?

- In the near future, we plan the opening of Amstor shopping mall in Severodonetsk. It will be similar to Berdiansk shopping centre by its area, concept and a set of tenants. Yet, it is too early to talk about dates, as the active preparation for the opening in Berdiansk is going on at the moment, and dispersing the forces is not the best solution. However, the investment program of Smart-Holding and other co-investors will enable us to promptly begin the process of reconception for the shopping centre in Severodonetsk and to bring the newly opened shopping malls to a single format of family purchase.