A group of members of the Nordic Council of Shopping Centers (NCSC) visited Forum shopping centre in early June. Earlier this spring, the Council selected Forum as the Best Nordic Shopping Centre.
The group of visitors comprised over 30 members of the NCSC. Before visiting Forum, the guests made a trip to the construction site of the expansion to the shopping centre Iso Omena in Matinkylä, Espoo, as well as the construction site of the Mall of Tripla in Pasila, and the construction site of shopping centre Redi in Kalasatama.
Jonas Reinholdsson, one of the two founders of Sweden-based sports bar chain O’Learys, is impressed by the busy construction currently taking place in Helsinki, as well as the “numerous interesting new projects”.
According to Reinholdsson’s assessment, Forum is a fine property. He pays particular attention to the many entrances leading into the shopping centre. The top four floors can be accessed from the street level, while the basement can be entered directly from the metro, central railway station, Stockmann and Kamppi shopping centre via underground tunnels.
Reinholdsson is happy to note that many businesses offering restaurant and cafe services had found their place in Forum.
“Food and drink services are considered an increasingly important part of the services offered at shopping centres,” Reinholdsson says.
Listening to entrepreneurs
In the presentation he held for the guests, Shopping Centre Manager Lars Eklundh stated that Sponda is particularly proud of the prize NCSC awarded to Forum. This is the first time the award for the Best Nordic Shopping Centre has been received by a Finnish shopping centre.
The four-member jury praised the patient work to develop Forum’s brand and pointed to the well-defined strategy behind the multi-year renovation and development project that was completed in late 2015.
“In addition to customers, we paid close attention to the views of the entrepreneurs operating in the shopping centre. We asked all the largest businesses what they would like us to do. Our renewal strategy was largely based on the thoughts and ideas the entrepreneurs provided,” Eklundh explains.
According to Eklundh, the prize also highlights the fact that excellent results can be achieved through constantly developing and modifying commercial units.
Opened during the 1952 Olympic Games, Forum was the first shopping centre in Finland. The famous glass corner and parking hall were built in 1985, and the exterior of the building has remained largely the same ever since. However, the retail space within the same walls has increased from 16,000 square metres to nearly 40,000 square metres.
“Constant renewals have maintained the high value of Forum’s brand and allowed commercial success. The right kind of attitude has been essential.”
According to Eklundh, Sponda is now utilising the experiences from Forum’s renewal in the development of the Ratina shopping centre in the centre of Tampere.
Forum’s three-year renovation project was a great success. It originally had a budget of EUR 57 million, but the costs did not exceed EUR 50 million. On top of everything, the project was carried out without any disturbance to the daily operations of the centre.
As a result of the renovation project, the retail space in the shopping centre grew by 8,000 square metres. One of the most challenging tasks was raising the glass ceiling by 2.5 metres. The work had to be conducted in compliance with instructions from the National Board of Antiquities. Thanks to the undertaking, it was possible to cover a part of the Kukontori plaza.
In 2016, Forum was visited by 14.7 million customers. The total sales amounted to EUR 217.3 million, which is about six per cent more than in 2015.
The number of shopping centre entrepreneurs increased from 120 to 140 after the renovation. Forum is now home to the only Gigantti shop located in a city centre in Finland. The only Victoria’s Secret shop in Finland can also be found among the new Forum tenants.