Having the right image is vital for shopping centres. This is why shopping centres choose their tenants carefully. When the shopping centre finds the right mix, the end result benefits both the shopping centre, the tenants and the customers.

We met two shopping centre managers from Helsinki, Tiina Fågel from Citycenter and Lars Eklund from Forum. These professionals dedicate their working hours to building successful shopping centre brands. According to them, in order to succeed, a shopping centre must have an excellent location, functional premises and an appealing combination of different shops – the right mix.

The mix must be in line with the shopping centre’s brand, business plan and target group.

“Typically, shopping centres are comprised of a few anchor tenants in different sectors and several smaller specialist shops. Representing many different sectors helps to attract a wider clientele. Grocery stores are typical examples of anchor tenants”, Fågel says.

The shopping centre’s four pillars are fashion, sports and leisure, electronic and cafes and restaurants. The right mix for a shopping centre will create from this base.

She also emphasises the role of restaurants and cafes. They make shopping centres feel cosier and more welcoming.

“Shopping centres have become living rooms where people come to meet friends and spend their free time. The demand for community initiatives and experiences is growing”, Fågel says.

Shopping centres are growing

Shopping Center Forum was founded in central Helsinki in 1952. In the 1980s, the old premises of the shopping centre made way for the glass-façade building, which stands to this day. Forum has grown little by little over the years, and it was last renovated in 2015. The latest renovation increased the total area of its retail space by approximately one fifth or 8,000 square metres.

“The history of Forum is a good example of how shopping centres have changed over the decades. Its retail space has doubled in 30 years, although the shopping centre is still in its original location”, Eklundh says.

Forum planned its renovation in co-operation with the major tenants. They started the work by assessing the space-related needs of the tenants and analysing the purchasing behaviour of consumers.

“There are two ways of developing shopping centres: we can start by building the premises and find the suitable tenants afterwards. Or we can start by analysing the needs of our tenants and consumers and build a shopping centre to match these. We chose the latter option”, Eklundh says.

Forum is not a grocery-anchored shopping centre. The shopping centre’s three traditional pillars are fashion, sports and leisure, and cafes and restaurants. Thanks to the renovation, Forum received a fourth pillar on which to build its success, as the Gigantti electronic and household appliances chain opened its store in Forum.

Select your tenants wisely

Both Eklundh and Fågel emphasise the importance of staying true to the shopping centre’s concept. If the shopping centre loses its focus, it will also lose its appeal. Thus, shopping centres must select their tenants wisely, making sure that they fit the mix.

“The new businesses must be thematically relevant, and their brands must fit our concept. Our shops have large sales volumes and relatively low prices, which means that exclusive brands have a difficult time finding customers in Forum”, Eklundh says.

Eklundh and Fågel say that finding retail premises is easier for large, established chains that have a proven, good concept than for small, starting companies. Starting a new business is never without its risks, and these risks are partly transferred to the shopping centre. On the other hand, small, innovative boutiques allow shopping centres to renew themselves and stand out among the competition.

“Good, innovative concepts and new pop-up shops are the cherry on the cake for shopping centres. These shops take up little retail space, but they can help the shopping centre set itself apart with a distinct profile”, Fågel says.

Shopping centres are more likely to open their doors to a newcomer if the company has a convincing business plan and profitability calculations, clear vision and sufficient resources.

“Entrepreneurs should have a clear vision of what they are doing. The shop’s resources should be flexible enough to cover the shopping centre’s opening hours, while allowing the shop to live through the period with smaller sales volume in the beginning”, Eklundh says.

Why join forces with a shopping centre?

  • The shopping centre’s reputation and the right mix of shops help your potential customers find you.
  • Joint marketing brings cost savings and gives your company better visibility.
  • Shopping centres are pleasant in all weathers, which means rainy days or winter storms are not quiet at your shop.
  • Customers come to shopping centres at all hours, even during the usually less popular daytime.
  • It is easier to co-operate with other companies when you are all housed within the same building.
  • Shopping centres have functional premises for hosting a variety of events.

Text: Tuomas Lehtonen



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