Romania and Bulgaria retail markets promising after EU entry (BU/RU)

Romania and Bulgaria's joining of the European Union (EU) in 2007 will provide Western retailers and developers with an opportunity to reach 30 million consumers, says Cushman & Wakefield. Romania alone, with a 22 million population, is second only to Poland as the largest Central & Eastern European country.

Cushman & Wakefield's European Shopping Centre Development report 2006 states that in terms of percentage shopping centre space coming onto the market, Bulgaria and Romania head the list with rises of more than 150 per cent. Romania has 470,000 m² of new schemes due to open before the end of 2007 and Bulgaria 98,000 m².

Razvan Gheorghe, General Manager of ACTIV Consulting, Cushman & Wakefield's Associate office in Romania, comments: "Romania has one of the lowest provisions of shopping centre space in Europe, with the country's first shopping centre, Bucuresti Mall, not opening till 1999. Given this, and the size of the consumer market, the country presents a tremendous opportunity for international retailers and investors."

Key schemes due to open in 2007 include Romanian developer Baneasa Investment's Baneasa Shopping City with 55,000 m² of retail in Bucharest, Austrian developer Raiffeisen evolution's Floreasca City Center with 33,000 m² of retail in Bucharest and Central European developer TriGranit Development Corporation's Polus Center in Cluj-Napoca, with 62,000 m².

"In Bulgaria, the first shopping mall openings in Sofia have been buoying consumers' and investors' enthusiasm for the retail market", says Valeri Valtchev, Managing Partner of Forton International JSCo, Cushman & Wakefield's Associate office in Bulgaria. "Despite the relatively small size of the Bulgarian market, compared to that of other neighboring countries, the country's EU accession is certain to lead in substantial investment in the retail market. We see the retail market developing from High street retail through shopping mall openings, to retail parks and outlet centers establishment on the market. Some of the biggest projects that have been recently announced in Bulgaria are outside of Sofia, the biggest being Mall Varna with 33 000 GLA in the Sea Capital of Bulgaria. Another 100,000 sq m of retail area will be built in Sofia as part of a substantial mixed use project Sofiiski Akropolis.

Source: Cushman & Wakefield

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