ARAM celebrates five successful years at Forum Nová Karolina
ARAM (Active Retail Asset Management) which manages and leases Forum Nová Karolina, a 58,000 sqm fashion and leisure shopping destination in Ostrava, is celebrating the scheme’s fifth anniversary this month. Sales and footfall have risen on average 10-15 percent year on year between 2012 and 2016.
This has been achieved by: introducing new international brands; extending the food and leisure offering; and implementing marketing and efficiency initiatives.
Forum Nová Karolina opened its doors in March 2012 during one of the deepest global recessions on record. Jointly owned by Meyer Bergman and Canadian pension fund - Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP), it was one of Europe’s biggest retail openings. Since then, the scheme has seen continuous improvement.
ARAM has carefully selected retailers and adjusted the tenant zoning within the centre to enhance customer experience and manage footfall. The centre now clustered retail areas: the first and ground floors predominately being fashion-led and the second floor dedicated to lifestyle, services, food and entertainment. This has significantly boosted retailer performance and helped customers navigate their way around the centre. Recent signings include Gate, 4F and Columbia. Alongside these, ARAM also brought entirely new luxury fashion retailers to the region including British brand Barbour, Park Avenue as well as international gifts retailer Tiger. In response to customer demand, ARAM has upsized several of its best performing stores within the scheme including Lindex, which moved from a 551 sqm unit to an 833 sqm store and Terranova, that upsized to from 385 sqm to 746 sqm. Lenka Matthews, Leasing Director, commented: “Forum Nová Karolina is a star performer for us, with 67 lease renewals and 13 new retailers in 2016 alone, creating an ever-evolving tenant mix. This shows not only that the Czech retail market is benefitting from a growing economy but the total renewals over the last 18 months demonstrates retailer confidence in the scheme. We are currently in negotiations for several leasing changes for 2017 and look forward to announcing these soon.” Aneta Hoffmannová, PR Director at Vermont Group, commented: “We initially had our Gant brand here, which has routinely achieved high sales and footfall since 2012. The brand performed so well, and built up such a loyal following in Forum Nová Karolina, that we are now introducing Barbour into the scheme. We are very confident about the shopping centre, and look forward to what the next five years will bring.” Further to the enlarged fashion mix, ARAM has also capitalised on the increased leisure, food and beverage (F&B) trend across Europe, by expanding Forum Nová Karolina’s F&B areas to take over 7 percent of the centre’s total floor space - a total of 3,939 sqm. The diversity of the offering was improved and bolstered further by new food brands including UGO Salaterie, a healthy on-trend Czech dining concept which opened a 328 sqm restaurant, and Spice Box - the first Indian restaurant within the Czech Republic - which signed up to a 187 sqm unit on the 2nd floor. Alena Hegnerova, Head of Marketing at UGO Salaterie, commented “Since opening in August 2016 we have had a phenomenal response from our customers. We have consistently grown in footfall over the past six months, and this store is without doubt one of the best performers within our portfolio." The continued success of the scheme has been supported by the popularity of key marketing events which on average drives footfall up by 15-25 percent. Such events include Oktobeerfest – the centre’s very own annual beer and music festival attracting over 45,000 people over two-days, and family friendly Marianne Days and Art of Light festival that includes late night shopping with many retailers reporting up to 150 percent increase in sales during the event. Another element that has had a significant impact is ARAM’s strong commitment to cost savings and affordable service charge levels, many of which that are lower than the average within the Czech retail market. This has been achieved through initiatives including reducing the heating and cooling costs by 10 percent in 2016, replacing the car park lighting to a lower energy consumption system, environmentally friendlier cleaning of the air ducts and increasing recycling at the centre up to an impressive 80 percent of the 600 tonnes of waste produced every year. Michal Mariánek, Deputy Mayor of Ostrava Council, said: “I appreciate that ARAM does not only focus on commercial aspects for Forum Nová Karolina, but is also significantly active with corporate social responsibility initiatives. Their marketing activities at the centre involve a variety of non-profit, charitable and educational organisations, and ARAM has continuously been cooperating with local organisations in the city. In the past five years, Forum Nová Karolina has made its mark supporting various institutions contribute to the enrichment of cultural and social life in Ostrava. I would like to sincerely congratulate Forum Nová Karolina on its fifth anniversary.”