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edition 9 (193)
September 2014
Facility Management

Balmain in expansive mood

Agata Kłapeć

Balmain in expansive mood
Ewa Szafrańska-Mądry, the new managing director of Balmain Asset Management
CEE REGION Balmain Asset Management has begun a new chapter in its history.

Founded in 2004, the property investment company has just launched its new business line dedicated solely to property management services. It has also hired its first CEE managing director to coordinate the company’s extensive real estate expertise and oversee improved shopping centre management across the region.

We know what they need

From September the new head of the Polish office will be Ewa Szafrańska-Mądry, who will also be working on the expansion of Balmain’s portfolio in CEE markets, which, as the company has revealed to ‘Eurobuild CEE’, will include acquisitions and investment partnerships. The move comes as Balmain opens a bold new business line, extending its existing asset management, leasing and development management services into specialised property management. For the last seven years, Ms Szafrańska-Mądry, who graduated from the University of Wrocław with a degree in architecture, has served as the executive director of Azora International Management. Prior to that she held the posts of director at Apsys Poland and project manager at TK Development. “Our strength lies in the combination of the services we offer and the unique access to the real estate market we have had over the years. Finding a person that would fit into this diversified organisational culture was not easy,” explains James Turner, the owner and CEO of Balmain. Currently the company has 23 retail assets under management in Poland with over 1,000 leases. It is also involved in a number of co-investments and joint ventures in its asset management projects. “We know the sort of modifications and updates Polish shopping centres need to increase in value while operating. The ownership structure is irrelevant here. We treat every project as if it were Balmain’s,” insists Ms Szafrańska-Mądry. Along with introducing new scope into its competences, Balmain also plans on resuming operations in the Czech Republic.

From AM to PM

Following the launch of the new business line, Balmain has hired 20 new people to work in the unit and has already taken on the property management of four shopping centres in its asset management portfolio, namely Aura Centrum Olsztyna, Poznań’s Galeria Handlowa Panorama, the Family Point mall in Wrocław and Galeria Galardia in Starachowice (scheduled to be completed soon). However, this is just the beginning as Balmain aims at acquiring new property management assignments across Poland. Meanwhile, Galeria Pomorska, a co-investment by Balmain and Resolution Property Advisers, is set for major changes as it undergoes extension work aimed at enlarging the mall by app. 10,000 sqm gla. In addition, the five retail parks that make up Balmain’s Tristan portfolio (Zakopianka in Kraków, Arena in Gliwice, Dąbrówka in Katowice, Borek in Wrocław and Turzyn in Szczecin) are also set for modernisations and extensions over the next two years. This forms part of the company’s regeneration strategy for existing Polish assets, which it has been implemented gradually over the last few years.

For Balmain the “tough, small town markets” are of paramount importance these days, as their potential is becoming increasingly obvious. Renovation work has already started on Balmain-managed retail parks in Zielona Góra, Grudziądz, Malbork, Olsztyn, Bydgoszcz and Konin. But extension and refurbishment are not the only measures that can be used to boost the market attractiveness of retail facilities. Balmain admits that it would be willing to introduce new, international retailers who until now have had no physical presence in Poland, to its shopping centres. “We are open to introducing new retailers, mainly from the fashion segment in mid-market formats and discount fashion chains,” reveals James Turner. As he points out, Polish retail assets have built up a considerable momentum of their own, particularly when compared to those on other European and CEE markets. “The global economic crisis has shown investors that Poland offers a resilient and stable environment to invest in,” he adds. Balmain Asset Management is currently being provided with financial support by “around 15–20 major international funds.”

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