Forum was selected as Finland’s best shopping centre in a competition organised by the Nordic Council of Shopping Centres. The award is based on the successful renewal efforts that have seen the iconic shopping centre modernised with a bold approach.
Everyone in Finland is familiar with Forum, a shopping centre that has operated in the heart of Helsinki for more than 30 years. Experts have now selected the Sponda-owned Forum as Finland’s best shopping centre. The award was issued by the Nordic Council of Shopping Centres (NCSC).
“We are happy and proud of the fact that experts in our own field appreciate the changes made at Forum in recent years and chose Forum as the Shopping Centre of the Year,” says Lars Eklundh, Shopping Centre Manager at Forum.
So what does the successful renewal project mean in practice? What has changed after three years of work?
More spacious walkways
The impact of the renewal project, which was completed in 2015 and cost more than EUR 50 million, is there to see as soon as you enter the shopping centre. The pop-up shops that filled the walkways in previous years are gone, making the premises brighter and more spacious. Large colourful groups of chairs have been added to each floor. The change is aimed at increasing customer comfort and the sense of community.
“We want Forum to be a welcoming place for everyone, even customers who aren’t necessarily looking to buy anything,” Eklundh explains.
New retail premises and brands
The biggest concrete change brought about by the shopping centre’s renewal is increased retail space. With some 8,000 square metres of additional space, the number of tenants has increased from 120 to 140. The new brands at Forum include Finland’s first Victoria’s Secret, Gigantti, the vegan café Kippo, K-rauta Express and Mobile Clinic, which provides quick first aid for mobile devices.
“The expansion and modernisation of the premises were clearly successful changes, as sales and customer volumes have increased and the shopping centre is now fully leased,” Eklundh says.
A fourth cornerstone
The renewal was also aimed at developing the shopping centre’s strategic concept. Forum’s previous three cornerstones—fashion, cafés and restaurants, and sports and leisure—were complemented by the introduction of electronics as the fourth cornerstone. In practice, this means that the basement floor is now occupied by Gigantti, a large full-service electronics store that is the only one of its kind in central Helsinki.
Families with children are one target group that was given special consideration in the renewal efforts. The success of these developments is plain to see. The new Moomin-themed play area on the third floor is busy with the shopping centre’s youngest visitors, happily jumping on soft bean bags and looking up at the Hattifatteners hanging from the ceiling.
“I’m more inclined to go to the city centre with my baby now that there’s a place that my older child enjoys so much,” says Henna Jussila, a mother of two, praising the new play area.
Even brighter star brands
The renewal project has also refreshed the premises of two of Forum’s traditional classic brands. The customers of Fazer café can now enjoy the new interior design concept created by the design agency Koko3 in partnership with the Fazer team, while visitors to the Moomin Shop can explore its products in a more fairytale-like atmosphere.
“Year after year, we think we’ve reached the peak of our growth, but interest in the Moomins just keeps on growing. The popularity of the Moomins has clearly spread from Japan to other parts of Asia,” says Shop Manager Sanna Vento, who has worked with the brand for 15 years.
Did you know?
- Having been selected as Finland’s best shopping centre, Forum will contend for the title of the best Nordic shopping centre in spring 2017.
- Some 14 million people visit Forum each year.
- In 2015, the shopping centre’s total sales were approximately EUR 204 million, with sales growing almost every year.
- Forum is owned by the property investment company Sponda Plc.