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Shopping centres, funds invest in the Made in Italy format


In the program for 2017, there are nine openings thanks to the hub solution which gathers several activities, from gourmet dining to fashion. An opposite trend to that in the USA  where the malls are closing

The big international funds bet on the recovery of the Made in Italy consumptions. In the past few days the French group Tikehau Capital, which is also in the process of acquiring Fondo Italiano d’Investimento together with Italmobiliare of the Pesenti family, has finalized its second operation in Italy, taking over for 65 million euro the Turin shopping centre Area 12, which is inside the complex of the Juventus Stadium. In 2016 the group bought the arcade “I Petali” within the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia.

In the meanwhile, in Verona, the shopping centre Adigeo has just been inaugurated, with 47 thousand Sq m and 130 shops,  developed by the German group Ece. Just outside Milan, in Segrate, the construction sites are ready for the mega project of Westfield Milano, in partnership with the group Percassi, with investments for 1.3  billion euro to build on a surface of 60 hectares the biggest shopping centre in Europe. In total, there are in the program for 2017 for Italy 9 new openings (from DeltaPo Rovigo to Citylife Shopping Centre in Milan) and 7 extensions of existing shopping centres. To motivate this incoming flow of investment funds and real estate developers, especially international, there is a good cash availability together with the conviction that the Italian consumption is ready to rise again after a long lethargy.

But that’s not all. The most of these projects are very different from the traditional model of shopping centre, the American style mall to give an idea, now aging and challenged by the exponential growth of e-commerce. We must consider that, according to a survey carried out by Credit Suisse, a quarter of the American shopping malls may close by 2020. If confirmed, this forecast by the Swiss bank would translate in the closure of 220 thousand American malls within the next five years. Investors like the idea of a shopping centre upgraded by Made in Italy, with a 51 billion yearly turnover, 365 thousand employees and 5 million visitors per day, and almost ready to be exported.

Besides, in the shopping centre, we can find the good Italian cuisine. The food courts, the areas dedicated to dining, would generate in the past barely 5% of shopping malls earnings. Nowadays these forecast is estimated around 15-20% of the total turnover. It’s clear why: the developers of Italian shopping centres had to deal with the crisis earlier than the others and for a longer period of time. Supermarkets are no longer the main attraction. The grey buildings appearing at the outskirts of the cities promising discounts and with a lot of signs have lost their appeal. The shopping centre has become thus a meeting point, often designed by the polished style of architects, with plenty of entertainment (concerts and playgrounds for the kids) and services (from the dentist till the paperwork to get a driving license).

In the last quarter, the sales in shops inside the Italian shopping centres were at a standstill, with a slowdown of 2.6% after a long period of growth lasted over two years and in countertrend with the national consumption trends. This is a structural phenomenon that is not meant to impact future developments. On the contrary, the formula for the shopping centre of the future is enriched by new elements: design, technology, renovation of abandoned areas, new centres close to cities.

Last week the National Council for shopping malls, Cncc, discussed the possible developments of the industry during the conference “Design, retail innovation”, which took place in Scalo Milano, the new shopping citadel recently launched in Locate Triulzio. Obviously, the choice of the location wasn’t left by chance. Scalo Milano, a 200 million euro investment by the group Lonati from Brescia and by Promos, aims at shaking up once again the traditional idea of shopping centre. The old mall was already archived with the centre in Arese for which international stars of the industry were hired to design the spaces, and it is trying now to make another step forward with Scalo Milano aiming at the customization of the shopping experience.

Food and design are no longer accessories, but instead attractions for the visitors. Within the shopping centre, there is a Design District which includes around twenty single-brand stores such as B&B, Cassina, Frau, Calligaris, Fendi Home, Vitra, Kartell, in order to create an actual design community.

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