By Hadley Dean
The shopping centre is alive and well, at least in Poland it is. This is not the first time I’ve talked about this, but we have some new evidence to present that is rather staggering. At EPP, we already have 100 million visitors flowing through our properties each year. That number is about to get significantly larger. Last week, we opened our flagship centre in Warsaw, Galeria Mlociny. From opening at midday Thursday to the end of the weekend, that centre alone received 224,000 visitors.
If You Build It, They Will Come
Galeria Mlociny opened on a rainy Thursday at noon. That didn’t stop thousands of people from lining up outside, umbrellas in hand to be the first to get a peek at the new destination in the northern part of the city. This is generally not the picture you get when you read about shopping malls in North America or the UK, but it is the reality in Poland for a variety of reasons. Before I get into those, let the pictures speak for themselves:
Getting it Right
It is important to keep in mind, that the key to a smashing success with a shopping centre, even in Poland is to understand that people want a place to spend their leisure time, so you need to create a destination and a pleasant place to be, not just look at the mix of shops. With our partners at Echo Investment, we went all in with this concept when planning Galeria Mlociny.
We hired top tier architects to plan a space that was full of light and vibrant, where people would want to spend time. Store fronts in the main hall of the gallery exceed 7 meters, giving the impression of an indoor high street. Perhaps most importantly, 25% of the space is dedicated to food, beverage and entertainment, and there are both indoor and outdoor spaces where people can co-work, take their kids to play, listen to bands and dance, and a food hall that caters to every demographic.
The Polish Difference
This is something I’ve written about quite a bit, and you can read here and here. The main point is Poland is not western Europe or North America. There is no high street tradition in Poland and people tend to live in smaller apartments than in other parts of Europe with large families. They are seeking new places to go and spend time outside their homes. Providing a multi-faceted center where they can work, eat, play and shop is exactly what the country is looking for, just ask the 72,000 people who showed up for the first afternoon of Galeria Mlociny.
Hadley Dean is CEO of EPP, Poland’s largest owner of shopping centres.