Retail outlets – Market Report 2007/1

After a relative still last year, the Budapest market awaits another large shopping mall to be completed. According to the promises of the developer, Plaza Centers, Aréna Plaza, offering space for 200 outlets on 68,000 square meters, shall be completed in October 2007.

The transport connection of the new shopping mall is a bit poor in a comparison with the usual standards, as it is not easy to access either by public transport or by car. In addition, it is close to one of the most successful shopping malls, �rkád. Still, given that Aréna Plaza shall be not only the newest, but also the biggest one among the competitors, tenants do not want to be left behind, in spite of its weak points. This is why contracts were already concluded not only with tenants known from other Budapest shopping malls, but also with premium brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Boss, Ralph Lauren, Paul & Shark, Lacoste or Peek & Cloppenburg.

In the next two years, no further shopping malls are expected to open in the capital, but preparations are in process for several development projects. These include, the construction of Neo Center (with 17,000 sqm of retail space and 17,000 sqm for offices) at Határ út, in southern Pest – where Europark is also considering an expansion – and Köki, just one stop with the underground from there. ING plans to complete its shopping mall in 2009, to be built on the lot of the former Buda Skála department store, where the demolition works have already started. Meanwhile, the shopping mall fever seems to have reached the eastern part of the country, where in the next 12-18 months, larger shopping and strip mall openings are planned in Eger, Miskolc, Nyíregyháza and Debrecen.

In downtown Budapest, the ING project on Vörösmarty square (with 6,000 sqm area already rented) is expected for completion, after several delays, also in October 2007. With a full refurbishment of Deák Ferenc utca, the Fashion Street of Immobilia created a total of 11,000 sqm of new retail area, highly in demand. In addition to branded garment shops, a restaurant also opened here, the first unit of Vapiano, an Italian restaurant chain with German background. In the former stock exchange building, Orco is only planning its shopping gallery of 9,000 square meters, while the overhaul of the former Luxus department store may be ready by October 2007, to accommodate two Spanish chains, Behrska and Stradivarius. The retail outlets of the refurbished Klotild Palace, 2,000 square meters shall be completed soon, but also in the side streets of Váci utca, there are shops waiting for tenants.

Next year, Gucci shall open a shop in Budapest. According to the news, as opposed to Escada, moving to Dorottya utca, Gucci shall have opted for Andrássy út, to become a neighbour of Louis Vuitton. Another luxury brand, the British Burberry is also expected to appear soon. In downtown, several mixed-purpose development projects are also underway or under preparation, where in addition to hotel space, the implementation of significant retail areas is also planned, like in Europeum, at Blaha Lujza tér, or, in a more distant future, in the project at the site of the Ballet Institute, on Andrássy út. Meanwhile, at a proven location on the outskirts of Budapest, at Biatorbágy, two projects are underway, for completion by the end of 2007. In the last, third stage of Premier Outlets Center, on 6,000 sqm, 20 shops will be accommodated. Next to that place, but with an even faster access from the motorway, the M1 Outlet Center, to be ready also in the fourth quarter of the year, shall not follow the strip mall layout, but shall be a two-level shopping centre. The developer, FTB Invest implements shops of 23-800 sqm on the 16,500 square meters area available, for outlets offering luxury and Category A brands. Also in the suburbs, close to the airport, the Ferihegy Market Central project of AIG Lincoln is underway, with 44,000 square meters. The two strong magnet tenants, Tesco and Praktiker reserved 65% of the area, and there is strong interest in the smaller shops as well. Along the eastern sector of M0, where the offer does not include any shopping mall or hypermarket yet, in the coming months, several new projects are expected at the motorway junctions.

In the coming years, the German Aldi discount chain shall be an increasingly active player of the retail outlet market in Hungary, in particular, in the countryside. Even though the opening dates were further postponed and are expected now only for 2008, these shall take place, in addition to Budapest, in seven cities, namely Gyôr, Zalaegerszeg, Pécs, Szeged, Debrecen, Miskolc and Veszprém. In 2007, the rentals of the retail outlets in the capital are moving upwards. An exception thereof is Váci utca, where the new offer coming to the market does not allow to move away from the range of 80-100 EUR/sqm. At the same time, due to the strong demand on Andrássy út, the monthly rentals per square meter increased from 25-35 euro a year ago to above 30-50 euro, whereas the monthly rentals of the shopping centres with the highest vendibility persist at around 100 EUR/sqm.