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“What a ‘better everyday life’ means in terms of shopping center experiences has significantly changed over the last 15 years, states Vasco Santos, Global Sales & Leasing Director at Ingka Centres. As a result, the key performance metrics for such spaces have also evolved,” he explains. We might take the same numbers into consideration, but the way in which these numbers should be interpreted is new.

by Vasco Santos

Congratulations on your 15th Anniversary, ACROSS! What an amazing milestone! Those who work behind the scenes deserve strong recognition from all of us who benefit from your passion and commitment to spreading knowledge about our industry! Well done!

A lot can happen in a decade and a half, and looking back at the journey that we, at Ingka Centres, have been on ourselves, I am amazed by how much transformation we have gone through. We have changed our company name; we have entered new markets (including 2 new continents); we have reshaped the role of digital in the customer journey; we have learned how to lead companies and teams during turbulent times, and much more; yet, we have always had the same vision that we have today: to create a better everyday life for the masses.

What a “better everyday life” means in terms of shopping center experiences has significantly changed over the last 15 years. In 2008, online retail was still in its infancy, and the typical visit to a shopping center was a far cry from the omnichannel experience that global consumers expect today. As a result, key performance metrics for such areas have also evolved. While footfall, dwell time, and average transaction value are still important, the way we interpret visitor frequency and tenant turnover has evolved.


At Ingka Centres, the cornerstone of our business performance metrics is the value we create – for our visitors and partners, our employees and communities, our planet, and ultimately, for our company. Those metrics are pretty common for most companies in our industry, but what truly sets us apart is how we follow our values, how we engage with our employees and local neighbor[1]hoods, and the positive impact we can make when it comes to our planet and local communities. In that sense, we have moved away from looking at KPIs and focused on KVIs (Key Value Indicators). Is it just a question of semantics?

Actually, it is not. KPIs are more backward-looking and performance-based, whereas KVIs are forward-looking and relate to the value created for people, partners, communities, and the planet.

As a purpose-driven company, we believe that contributing to solving societal challenges and financial sustainability are two sides of the same coin. Far-reaching purpose-driven metrics that make a difference for both local people and the planet were less common 15 years ago, but are now increasingly visible within the broader retail real estate sector, and that is a great development that we should all celebrate.

That means we need to move beyond the notion that shopping centers, retail parks, and malls are merely places to consume, but rather places to grow, learn, connect, meet, and have fun in ways that are kinder to people and the planet. The shift away from one-time, high-spending visits once a month or once a week has given us the opportunity to shape spaces in which individuals and families can find reasons to visit multiple times a week or even per day. Aiming to be a customer-centric company requires that we consider what value is through the eyes of the customer. The level of involvement in the ecosystem of initiatives, events, learning opportunities, knowledge sharing, services, community engagement, etc. says much more about our ability to remain relevant in the future than traditional KPIs do.


Instead of a static mix of similar retailers competing for customers’ wallets, we encourage more of a marketplace approach, where there is always something new to discover around thematic hubs. One such example can be found at Circuit in Birsta City (Sundsvall, Sweden), which opened last year and has helped rejuvenate our first ever Meeting Place in Sweden with a collective of businesses all focused on the circular economy. With a mix of repair shops, swap shops, lectures, and a vibrant social community, our visitors do not just walk away with valuable items, but with valuable ideas.

Another example is how we are now looking to challenge the way we bring F&B offers to our Meeting Places. Through Saluhall, a forward thinking food hall concept built on the heritage of the new Nordic Manifesto, we aim not only to provide a place to eat and spend time, but to also be a driver of change – a change for the better, given the urgent need to help people shift to healthier and more sustainable behaviors, as the Saluhall concept has a strong focus on plantbased and vegetarian dishes. Over the next 15 years, the true performance metrics for all of us will be how quickly we can adapt to these changes and provide everyday support to help our communities embrace more sustainable habits.

We have long been aware of our responsibility to provide spaces in which magic can happen. We will continue to measure ourselves by how regularly we can encourage the masses to meet, come up with new ideas, and spend time together.


As I look ahead to the next 15 years, I am excited to see how we will continue to further develop our meeting places into life-oriented spaces. We firmly believe that true success lies in shaping enriching places in which people build emotional connections, meet their friends, relax, dine, and exercise. As we look toward the future, we intend to expand this offer to offices and residential, which means local communities will work and live in and around our meeting places.

Our industry is constantly facing new challenges, and ACROSS has been quite diligent in asking the right questions. We all need to be imagination activists in order to stay ahead of the game and anticipate what value will mean for our customers in the future.

I am extremely confident that, given Ingka Centres’ plans for the next decade, our meeting places will grow to offer more and more everyday value to people around the world. I wish ACROSS both prosperity and longevity.

Vasco Santos
Vasco Santos

Vasco Santos is the Global Sales & Leasing Director at Ingka Centres


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