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edition 12 (236)
December 2018
New shopping centre

Under a good sign

Aneta Cichla

Under a good sign
Anna Malcharek

Three centres, three different towns, one name – Gemini Park. Anna Malcharek, the company's managing director, tells us about the strategy and development of retail buildings from the portfolio of Gemini Holding

Aneta Cichla, ‘Eurobuild Central & Eastern Europe’: What makes the Gemini Park brand stand out on the shopping centre market in Poland?

Anna Malcharek, the managing director of Gemini Holding: We have been developing the Gemini Park brand for 10 years. It is a concept that is constantly evolving, setting a new, interesting tone on the market. Our idea, which works well, involves modern, local shopping centres that integrate with towns, are always close to the customer and their shopping needs. Consequently we create ‘handy’ shopping centres where you can shop, eat, use services and have fun e.g. in the cinema or on the playground. When developing them we use detailed research, so we can respond to real market needs. The family nature of the buildings, with a strong emphasis on fashion, means that we address our product range to everyone, regardless of their age or needs. What distinguishes us on the markets we operate on today is the clarity of the product range, the precise location of the tenant in the layout of the building and dedicated zones for a specific product range e.g. men's. The tenant mix we create is filled with recognisable brands and therefore understandable and memorable for our customer. In the development of the product range we put strong emphasis on e.g. Polish brands. These dominate in Gemini Park centres today. It is also crucial for us to match the product range to the customer’s wallet on the local market. The flexibility of the Gemini Park shopping centres is also extremely important. We follow the spirit of the times and thus we are open to changes that the market suggests, willingly introducing such systems as the concept of ​​the third place or placemaking. While adopting certain trends, we support ourselves with sociological and behavioural research.

What are further development plans of this brand in Poland?

In the development of the brand we try to focus on smaller towns, looking for markets where we can fill a gap. This is the case e.g. in Tarnów or Tychy. It allows us to quickly build visibility but also a strong position on the local market as well as on the regional market in a long-term prospect.

How do you get involved in the life of the towns where Gemini centres operate and their local communities?

The unchangeable thing in our business is the desire to be a good neighbour and to include local and city-forming activity in our operations. Through our development, we create a friendly neighbourhood, where residents can not only shop but also integrate. We are also a partner for the town and its residents who participate and support local initiatives. We have e.g. been conducting revitalisation of green areas at our centre in Bielsko-Biała for four years, on our initiative and in cooperation with the town. An ecopark and a rope park have been created there, among others. Together with the University of Bielsko-Biała we have also created a new relaxation place in the town called ‘Skwer Poetów im. Kazimiery Alberti’. A Siemacha Spot was established in Tarnów in cooperation with the Siemacha Association. It is a place which provides help to young people who have experienced some hardship. We are also involved in the life of the town by supporting e.g. initiatives of local associations, foundations, schools, universities or ecological organisations. We also actively cooperate with town. It is most visible today in Bielsko-Biała, where we supported more than 200 social initiatives in the last 5 years, including the famous ‘Bielsko-Biała for Tom Hanks’ campaign. Also in Tychy we are strongly involved in events in the town. We join e.g. the Tych Run and initiatives executed by the municipal sports and recreation centre (MOSiR) in Tychy.

What do you put most emphasis on in operational activities of the three centres under the Gemini Park brand?

We try to differentiate from the competition and create added value for the customer. On the one hand, we strongly root our shopping centres locally, in the towns they operate in; on the other hand, we fight for a much larger, regional catchment area. This is the case in Tarnów, where we have a catchment area of almost 1.5 mln people. Effective marketing campaigns, advertising campaigns and CSR projects as well as an effective leasing strategy help us in our fight for customers, so our shopping centres are almost 100-pct leased now and thus extremely attractive for the customer and the potential tenant. Our other priority is the development of the concept of compact centres where you can easily navigate thanks to a clear layout. We are still strongly focused on expanding the product range and its diversification, so that it is interesting for everyone, regardless of their age, gender or affluence. At the same time, we focus on the development of the Gemini Park shopping experience. We strive to ensure that along with an interesting range of stores our customers also find an interesting entertainment, sports and gastronomic tenants as well as modern infrastructure that promotes relaxation, meetings or fun. This direction is our priority for the next few years. It involves additional investment of course and in some cases also extension of the building. Such decisions have been made with reference to e.g. Tychy and Tarnów.

Do you plan to expand/rebuild your centres?

We have a whole series of construction work planned for the next few years. The expansion of the latest building in our portfolio i.e. Gemini Park Tychy is starting in 2019. The analyses we have at our disposal show that a modern cinema is needed in Tychy. We plan to build it. Gemini will gain app. 6,600 sqm. There will also be an entertainment zone, kids play and new restaurants in this area, next to the multi-screen cinema. Furthermore, work on the internal and external playground will also start in Tychy in the next few months. The extension of Gemini Park Tarnów is still planned. The shopping centre would gain 7,000-15,000 sqm. We will add a cinema there, just like in Tychy. The shopping centre also plans to modernise the passageways over the next two years. The modernisation of the food court has been completed in the shopping centre. Changes will also take place in Bielsko-Biała. The centre is currently preparing to modernise the food court and shopping alleys. There are plans for further work on green areas, including the modernisation of the Strzygowskiego Park which includes a rope park. However, the latter work will be undertaken by the town and largely paid for from the civic budget.

What are your relationships with tenants like?

For years we have been trying to be first of all a partner for our tenants rather than only the owner of the area which the company invests in. When building a relationship with a tenant, we are therefore proactive. We understand perfectly that the local success of the tenant, the turnover achieved or the footfall is our common goal. It is obvious to us that our task is to support our tenants in this development e.g. through sales promoting and marketing campaigns which they can participate in. The leasing of Gemini Park Tychy reflected how good our relations are today and how successful the cooperation is. A great number of tenants that are satisfied with the relationship between us and, above all, their results in Tarnów or Bielsko-Biała, also decided to invest in a unit in Tychy. As one of the reasons, apart from good financial results, they also listed a proven and effective model of cooperation that involves all parties working for the success.

Experienced strategist

Anna Malcharek has been actively involved with the real estate sector for almost 15 years. In the years 2007-2013 she worked at GTC – initially as the marketing and PR director, then as the operational director of Galeria Kazimierz. From 2009 to 2013 she was the managing director of shopping centres owned by GTC. She was responsible for key projects in the company's portfolio – Galeria Jurajska in Częstochowa and Galeria Kazimierz in Kraków. Since 2014 she has been involved with Gemini Holding, where she holds the position of the managing director. In Gemini Holding she is responsible for the development and introduction of long-term strategies for Gemini Park companies as well as Gemini Jasna Park, budget planning, negotiations with business partners, development of leasing strategies and direct contact with tenants, among other things. As the managing director Anna also supervises and coordinates the work of teams in the shopping centres owned by the holding company. She also directly coordinates activities related to the preparation of analyses for new projects. Since 2015 she has been responsible for the entirety of the company's latest project – Gemini Park Tychy. For many years she has been consistently participating in panel discussions devoted to the real estate sector and is a valued expert of the shopping centre market in business media.

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