GVA Outlets has opened its ninth Outlet Centre in Europe, Sofia Outlet Center, the biggest outlet center in Bulgaria. Alister Meek, Operations Director of GVA Outlets was delighted with the opening day: "The center opening was a great success, we had so many people that it brought the city centre to a standstill. It was great to see so many people wanting to shop and shop they did."
The project developer was K & K Engineering, a vastly experienced retail real estate developer in Europe, the building concept was developed by ECE International (Hamburg/Germany), the CEE's leading shopping center developer, with project management by Drees & Sommer, and leasing and operational management by Outlet experts, GVA Outlets
Brendon O'Reilly, Director of GVA Outlets, explains why Bulgaria is an ideal marketplace for the Outlet sector, "Bulgaria has had seven years of sustained economic growth and low inflation which has enabled consumer spending to rise very quickly. Over 70% of the 7.7 million Bulgarian population live in urban areas and there is a well-established market for high fashion brands, which has already adopted a mall shopping culture. With full occupancy as the norm, limited retail space and the high demand for quality brands the Sofia Outlet Center offer will supplement the full price offer by appealing to the price-conscious shopper."
Alister adds: "The Sofia Outlet Center is in the perfect location, with easy access from the city centre, next to METRO and TECHNOMARKT. There is a catchment of over 2.2 million within a 90-minute drive time and 2.7 million within 2 hours."
Sofia Outlet Center was a one-phase build with a GLA of 15,500 sq m of enclosed mall over four floors; two upper levels of retail with 90 units ranging from 35 sqm to 620+ sqm, a food court and coffee shops with a subterranean car park of 520 spaces.
There are a wide range of quality brands covering fashion clothing, sportswear, denim, casual leisurewear, underwear, outdoor, footwear, accessories, home goods and a few others specialist stores including Mango, Nike, Ecco, Pierre Cardin, adidas, Benetton, Triumph, Kappa, Guess, Diesel, Tommy Hilfiger, Vayk, Miss Sixty, Geox, Replay and Converse, many of which are firsts in the Bulgarian market and all of which will be offering discounts of up to 70%.
Brendon explains: "It is easy to buy cheap goods for a cheap price but it is much more difficult to buy good quality goods at an affordable price making real savings. Cheap goods tend to be short-life products made with low cost materials that you have to replace more often which turns the good prices into a false economy. Whereas buying good quality, recognised brands at a discounted price gives you a real saving and goods that are made to a high standard and last longer making them a great investment. It is the offer of these kinds of discounts on high quality brands that make the Outlet sector so appealing for shoppers and why it is such a great investment."
He continues: "The Outlet sector is booming across Europe with good returns for investors, an increasing demand from retailers and a growing consumer market as those that strive for quality are looking for it at an affordable price. It has a rosy long-term outlook which is impressive when most other areas of retail are feeling the pinch. All of the existing Centres operated by GVA Outlets are continuing to show remarkable growth despite the downturn, including increasing footfall, sales and spend as well as new lease signings. The Outlet sector marketplace remains an attractive investment opportunity with plentiful future scope. As we have now proved, every capital city in CEE has embraced a top-quality, international standard Outlet Center, and Sofia is no different. We know that this project will soon rank amongst the best-performing retail points in the region."
Brendon adds: "Despite hard times in the economy our Outlets Centre network is constantly expanding. We have established centres in Poland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Romania, Switzerland, Hungary and now Bul