Anastasia Dovchenko, Head of Real Estate with Crocus Group
“Retail property, of all the other types of commercial real estate, is more dinamyc and constantly readjusting. All the processes happening now reflect the everchanging situation in the market taking in the account the changes in customers’ behaviour and their habits. If an owner does not adapt to this and does not show a certain degree of flexibility, they may start lagging behind and losing their customer. Now reconceptualization and renovation are more important than ever. It is also about the common formats of retail chains. Most shopping centres were built over 15 years ago and need a reconstruction as well as an adaptation to current requirements and today’s demands. The shift of customers’ habits for online shopping cannot be overseen by neither the owner of a project, not its operator.
Any reconceptualization or renovation must be carried out after a thorough research into the target audience and the customers’ behaviour. The new format must include the latest trends in the industry. In Russia, especially taking into account the situation now, the era of reconceptualization and redevelopment of shopping centres has just started.
As a rule, one of the reasons to carry out a reconceptualization is to improve the footfall and create a new target audience. A key element to any commercial concept is to enhance the cutting edge of a project and with the latest trends in the market it means by reformatting and increasing entertoyment segment.
The shopping and entertainment complex Vegas Kashirskoe renovated a few zones by focusing on entertainment. We replaced the cinema and the children’s’ centers and we also changed the concept for the bazaar and the food court. Our new gastrospace has an area of 4747 m2 and unites restaurants, cafes and original culinary projects representing various cuisines from around the world. As a result, we can see that the monthly traffic has gone up by 5%.”
If we talk about rebranding, it is most often about uplifting the design and changing the concept, the area, the format in order to revive the interest from the shoppers. Yet, since February 2022 and the halt of operations for many foreign brands, a lot of them focused on rebranding by masking them from the customers, this is what CCC and LPP did. Another way, though a similar reason, was chosen by Starbucks, McDonalds etc.
Not all reconceptualization projects are smooth. The rebranding of McDonalds into Vkusno I Tochka rose a lot of questions from the regular visitors and stirred quite a lot of criticism in the professional society. It can be considered a bald move as companies mainly prefer to keep the name and the vibe of the brand, but in this case there possibly were some limitations.
When we talk about a deeper reconceptualization, one which involves reconstruction of a building, it becomes difficult as it is hard to manage without stopping all business activities. I remember a few projects of such kind, for example, the business centre Lotte Plaza in Novinsky Boulevard saw the transformation of retail spaces into office ones while the floors were open. It was a challenge to restructure the traffic, to isolate the dust, noise and vibration, to make sure the engineering systems would work properly, etc.
In most cases, providing the reconceptualization was thought through and the project was carried out properly, the footfall increases in the new half a year.
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