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News

ECSP guest blog: Local spaces in big cities, a neighborhood approach to the future of shopping

A megapolis is by definition a big place, a super city where everybody thinks big in terms of scale and planning. However, cities cannot continue to grow exponentially where the focus remains on the centre as a source for everything we need, whether it’s a place of work, entertainment or to go shopping. As Europe’s largest cities, such as Moscow, Paris or London, expand and take on the features of megapolis, consumer habits will change and adapt. Throw in a pandemic, and these trends potentially accelerate.

This week, we hear from the team at ADG Group, a member of ECSP and a pioneering urban developer in Russia, creating smart urban environments. Mikhail Pecherskiy, managing partner, and Guillaume Sadoux, its development director, tell us what they are doing in response to changing consumer habits.

Covid has certainly slowed down our lives. It has also highlighted the urgent need to re-connect the way we live to the more “local” scale of time and space defined by our neighborhoods. A local kind of time that is less constrained by the megapolis we live in, which constantly requires us to travel out of our neighborhood to satisfy our basic needs. Our connection to our neighborhoods has changed, giving a different meaning to the word “local”: local not only in terms of distance, but in terms of time as well. What makes us happy are local social connections, offline, real, physical, born out of friendship, proximity, helping each other out – not the connections on our screens, from hundreds of “friends” or in virtual crowds where we are actually alone. It is tangible connections with real human beings that make our lives happy and healthy, our homes happy and healthy and our neighborhoods happy and healthy.

With its Mesto Vstrechi (Meeting Place) concept, ADG is developing a network of neighborhood centers that will become the heart of each community it operates in. It’s more than bricks and mortar. It is a well thought and considered process that does not happen overnight. A deep understanding of local demographics and economic factors, social and cultural dynamics, with continuously refreshed data analytics, is helping our teams understand local behaviors better and allowing us to constantly adapt our concept. We focus on “how neighbors spend their time” rather than “what they buy”. This helps us shape a concept that aims to provide meaningful support for the community, rather than just providing another opportunity to consume goods.

Creating a community is one of the most important elements when building a network of neighborhood centers in a megapolis. It requires a lot of resources. The entire process needs to be carefully managed to keep track of changing dynamics, adapting the strategy in accordance with feedback and integrating new concepts. Ideally, there should be a specific person whose role is to combine all of the responsibilities mentioned above – at Mesto Vstrechi, we call this the community manager. These people not only provide all the necessary information and services, but first create relationships with neighbors and collect valuable feedback and search for local professionals and experts who later engage people to take part in activities, lectures and discussions. Everything is very much localized: it makes the entire process more efficient and brings this neighborhood vibe, contributing to Moscow’s unique “flavor”.


From the business point of view, neighborhood communities need to build businesses for people and take care of them, so it’s essential to listen to locals to know their needs, aspirations, and expectations. Everything we provide at Mesto Vstrechi is based on feedback from locals and adapted to their needs, which also includes an extensive cultural and social program. We tailor our strategies to each audience focusing on four segments: “Culture and Education”, “Family and Children”, “Sports and Health” and “Moscow Longevity”, Moscow Mayor’s project for senior citizens. We believe these shape a community.

A neighborhood community is a brand-new asset class in the Russian real estate industry. We strongly believe that the value of brick-&-mortar is deeply rooted in residential districts of the city, and it helps us to learn and develop, create unique experiences and reach-out to new talents and skills outside the usual real estate space. It goes beyond the usual B2B and B2C way of doing things, by undertaking a “neighborhood stakeholders” approach instead: everyone has something valuable to bring to their local community.

To support the community idea, we have also developed the Mesto Vstrechi app, where you can get personalized offers, information about events and even order delivery of goods and services from a local neighborhood center. The app is also a platform for building a loyalty program in a new, modified way by helping us to access more information about the habits of our consumers. We are able to analyze this data collectively and share insights with tenants, so that we can tailor our growth and become even more successful and local-centered. It does not matter nowadays if it’s an online or offline experience, if it’s a real community or a digital one – technology helps blur the boundaries, including those between the usual tenants and our consumers, who we now think of as guests. And this is how we are creating what we believe will improve the quality of thousands of people’s lives here in Moscow, and perhaps all over the world.

ADG group is a Russian pioneering urban developer creating smart urban environments, member of the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) and GRI Club. ADG group has twice won prestigious CRE Awards in the category “Best small shopping center”: in 2020 with the neighborhood center “Mesto Vstrechi Angara” (Angara Meeting Place) and in 2021 with the neighborhood center “Mesto Vstrechi Budapest” (Budapest Meeting Place). Moreover, in 2020 ADG group was named the “Developer of the year” by Global RLI Awards, and in 2021 the company won GREEAt award for the “Best small new shopping center”.

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Podcast

Let’s Talk #5: Shopping Matters – A common agenda for retail and retail property

Welcome to the fifth in our series of podcasts from the European Council of Shopping Places and its members. This week Joost Koomen, the ECSP’s Secretary General, is joined by Christian Verschueren, Director General at EuroCommerce, the principal European organisation representing the retail and wholesale sector.

The speakers discussed what’s on the agenda for retail and retail property, and there is much room for collaboration between both sectors. Check it out!

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Campaign Guest blog

ECSP guest blog: A shopping experience is an inclusive experience

As part of ECSP’s ‘Shopping Values’ campaign running this month, Christoph Andexlinger, Chief Operations Officer at SES Spar European Shopping Centers, explains why diversity matters, and his company’s commitment to it.

It should be a given that all people are treated equally, regardless of their gender, their culture, their age, their place in society, their religion, their origin, or their station in life.

What makes us special as a species and gives us the best opportunities for further development is the uniqueness of each and every one of us and the stunning variety of different individuals it creates. Not only does it make our lives colorful, varied, and individual, it also delivers enormous potential for all of us. As special and promising as this variety is, the limitless opportunities it creates can only happen if we all equally recognize its potential.

How is the retail real estate industry positioning itself when it comes to diversity? It’s a big subject that would be difficult to cover in one blog post – its a multi-faceted issue with many different aspects. However, shopping is an intrinsic part of every aspect of our lives. Shopping is more than buying the essentials. Shopping places have become urban spaces where people meet and socialize, inform themselves, seek inspiration and ultimately enjoy themselves. Shopping is an inclusive experience, so retailers and operators should always be aware of how the opportunities they are offering are given to everyone equally. But this inclusive approach is not just for our customers but for our workforce too.  For example, are round-the-clock corporate childcare facilities available to make sure that retail employees can manage the balancing act between their work and family lives?

Our company has adopted a clear stance: All people are equal, and all people have the same fundamental rights. Live is colorful, not monochrome. Our centers do not make a distinction between individuals. We never exclude particular groups or parts of society when positioning our centers. Quite the contrary: We try to provide the most comprehensive offer, the most beautiful shopping experience, and the best quality of stay for as many people as possible and, as a matter of course, to show them our unreserved appreciation.

Ultimately, shopping destinations reflect progress in our society as well. Our daily goal must therefore be: equal opportunities for everyone, and being open to everyone.

SES Spar European Shopping Centers is a developer, builder, and operator of large-scale, mixed-use properties, with an emphasis on retail and services. SES currently manages 30 shopping locations in six Central and Southern European countries. In Austria and Slovenia, SES is the market leader in large-scale shopping centers.

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Campaign News

ECSP guest blog: Innovating to achieve energy efficiency at Atrium Group’s shopping centres

Europe has some of the world’s most ambitious climate targets and regulators are getting tough on those sectors that are either the biggest emitters of GHG gases or big energy consumers. Everyone has a responsibility to respond, and that includes retail property. There is a change in emphasis from highlighting good practice in terms of reductions to an agenda that is far more urgent in the race to deliver net zero.

As part of ECSP ‘Shopping Values’ campaign running this month, Daria Pawełko, Group Innovation Manager at Atrium European Real Estate, explains how her company is innovating to make its centres more energy efficient.

As shopping centers recover from the impact of Covid-19, managing the loss of revenue and the inflationary cost of utilities, such as energy, reducing costs will be a principle focus in the year ahead. PropTech solutions limiting consumption will be particularly useful.

Atrium Group not only aims to increase its energy efficiency by 25%, but also to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2025, with the ultimate goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. To get there, we are exploring initiatives such as smart energy management solutions and new energy sources.

As indoor climate installations usually account for around 70% of the total energy consumption, it’s also one of the key sources for energy optimization.  One project we have reviewed covers artificial intelligence (AI) driven software integrated with our existing building management system (BMS). By analyzing the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) consumption data with contextual data from various sensors located throughout our malls, we are better able to optimize our system operations to achieve decreases in energy consumption, while maintaining the indoor climate comfort for both tenants and shoppers.

As far as renewable energy sources are concerned, we are looking at three options.

First, the deployment of photovoltaic (PV) infrastructures within our malls, including some more innovative PV installations, transforming glass facades or skylights into energy production facilities; while elsewhere decreasing indoor temperatures to reduce energy needs whilst maintaining ambient conditions.

The second source of renewable energy is water. In cooperation with a PropTech startup company, we are testing an energy eco-generator that allows for energy production from the in-mall water distribution system – like a mini waterpower plant.

The renewable landscape is also constantly evolving. So thirdly, we are incorporating new modular wind power solutions, which are adjusted to lower wind conditions. These are being considered for use as alternatives to standard solar farms that require vast areas of roof space.

These are just a few examples of Atrium’s ESG efforts which focus on the “E” (Environment). We are working closely with all tenants to help contribute to minimizing our joint environmental footprint. Our entire organization is involved in this continuous improvement process – we are currently running a company wide Innovation Campaign where all employees from technical, through marketing and accounting are sharing their ideas on how to achieve our ESG goals and make our shopping malls not only great shopping destinations, but also a ‘greener’ part of our communities.

Atrium is one of the top owners, operators and developers of shopping centres in Central and Eastern Europe. Using decades of experience and history in the region it has grown into a real estate owner and developer that creates more than just a great place. It provides the perfect balance of leisure and living to over 200 million of our visitors yearly at 26 prime urban locations in capitals and cities across Central and Eastern Europe.

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Campaign Podcast

Let’s Talk #4: Shopping Matters – Making the retail property sector Paris-proof

Welcome to the fourth in our series of podcasts from the European Council of Shopping Places and its members. This week Joost Koomen, the ECSP’s Secretary General, is joined by Bogdan Tabetu, head of property management at NEPI Rockcastle, the premier owner and operator of shopping centers in Central and Eastern Europe.

The speakers talked about the European retail property sector’s role in fighting the climate crisis and addressed the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Check it out!

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News

ECSP responds to the European Commission consultation on revising the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

In the context of the European Green Deal’s ambition to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the European Commission recently launched an open public consultation on revising the Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD). The European Council of Shopping places has answered the consultation, providing the retail property sector’s view on important issues linked to the directive and feeding into the Commissions’ preparation of legislative proposals for its revision. ECSP’s full answer is available here.