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edition 12 (236)
December 2018
New shopping centre

The third place

Aneta Cichla Interviewer

The third place
Krzysztof Brączek
Although the shopping centre in Bielsko-Biała was established as the first centre of the Gemini Park brand, it wants to be the so-called third place for its customers, where they can come not only for shopping but also for social gatherings. Krzysztof Brączek, the director of the centre, reveals the secrets of the centre’s functioning to us

Aneta Cichla, ‘Eurobuild Central & Eastern Europe’: The retail market in Bielsko-Biała is saturated. So how do you position Gemini Park against competition?

Krzysztof Brączek, the director of Gemini Park Bielsko-Biała: In 2014, after the extension of the building, we changed our marketing strategy and positioning on the local market. For four years we have been functioning as a family shopping centre. Our tenant mix, marketing activities and infrastructure are aimed at families with children. For example, the only Toys'R'Us store in the region operates in our shopping centre. Furthermore, we have a great number of amenities for this group of customers: toilets for children, two rooms for parents with children, the ‘W Deche!" park, a rope park, which was extended this year, and a playroom. We also plan modernisation which will additionally distinguish this aspect of our operations. A trampoline park will be built in this area soon. We will further enlarge the rope park next year – we will mount an additional zip line across the river. This positioning distinguishes us from our competition which is mainly promoted as fashion centres. Changing the strategy after the expansion of the building resulted in better recognition and greater customer loyalty. Before the expansion – throughout 2013 – we had a footfall of 2.6 mln people whereas in 2017 i.e. after the expansion and the change of our positioning – it was more than 5.2 mln. This year, the footfall increased by more than 1 pct despite trade-free days whereas market data indicate an average decline of 3-4 pct subject to the survey.

How do you introduce the strategy of building the tenant mix aimed at spending free time in the centre?

The nature of shopping centres continuously changes due to the numerous trends that this market is affected to. This means that we still have to and want to move forward. The gastronomic part of Gemini Park already constitutes 10-13 pct of the building’s area. We are trying to expand the sectors that we believe are promising and will actually affect the centre’s activities. I mean entertainment and the creation of so-called third places. 10 leisure zones and one large event zone will be built in the centre at the beginning of December. Thanks to this, shopping in our centre will become more comfortable. The Strzygowski Park will be revitalised in the urban area adjacent to our property. There will be a new cycle and roller blade route there, the landscape architecture will be exchanged and the lighting will be modernised. Furthermore, a town beach and a climbing wall will be constructed at our park as part of the civic budget. Altogether it will result in a modern place for spending free time. I am glad that our activities related to the development of external areas have encouraged residents to submit such projects.

Are you planning to modernise the centre?

We are renovating the entire food court next year. In 2020 we will be refurbishing communal parts, including toilets. The plan of remodelling the shopping centre is spread over a few years.

What is the source of the building’s success?

We are very active locally and regionally. Over the years we have established a position on the Bielsko-Biała market. The building is 99-pct leased and its re-leasing goes smoothly. Our tenants want to enlarge their units. Our tenant mix is different from that of the competition in a great number of aspects and it is complemented by basic chain brands. Our proposal is broad and varied, which makes us a popular building on the map of the town.

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