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Magdalena Chachulska is Asset Management Director at NEINVER Poland. /// Images: NEINVER
Magdalena Chachulska is Asset Management Director at NEINVER Poland. /// Images: NEINVER

FACTORY: How To Remain The Market Leader In Poland

FACTORY, the Polish outlet brand managed by NEINVER, is not only an awarded outlet brand but also a success story. ACROSS spoke with Magdalena Chachulska, Asset Management Director NEINVER Poland, about the portfolio, developments, specifics about the Polish market and what needs to be done to remain the market leader in 2024.

ACROSS: What role does the FACTORY brand play within the NEINVER portfolio?

Magdalena Chachulska: Despite FACTORY has been the leading outlet brand in Poland ever since NEINVER opened its first outlet center in 2002, FACTORY Ursus – Poland’s most renowned outlet center. The Polish market marked a key step forward for NEINVER’s international expansion plan, with the country remaining a pivotal market for the company today. NEINVER operates five outlet centers and one retail park which cover a total GLA of over 106,000 sq m. FACTORY outlets closed a very successful year in 2023, with sales figures increasing by 12% year-on-year and every single outlet recording double-digit sales growth. This is particularly significant considering the economic and geopolitical context of recent years in the region. The portfolio also registered impressive growth in terms of the average ticket that climbed +11% vs. 2022 thanks to the arrival of more premium and up-market brands, which has spurred FACTORY customers to spend more each year.

ACROSS: What developments can be expexted in 2024, especially regarding special services?

Chachulska: We are working to introduce the latest version of the NEINVER-developed loyalty scheme – Club LIFEstylers. This is a major step towards achieving our goal of enhancing the experience for our visitors and supporting our retail partners. This modern loyalty system, is based on proprietary technology that is able to actively track customers´ tastes and preferences and leverage these insights to drive customer engagement. Together with our retailers, we will target customers more accurately and personally tailor any communications and offers sent to them, that ultimately will enhance their shopping experience and drive more frequent and high-impact visits. In the centers across NEINVER’s portfolio where the program is already up and running, club members are interacting much more with the center, and metrics such as footfall, dwell times, and the average ticket have increased significantly.

ACROSS: What other steps are you taking to offer consumers a convenient and sustainable experience?

Chachulska: We are also continuing to work on offering a sustainable shopping experience, providing sustainable mobility options to visitors, including electric vehicle charging points and bicycle stations, for example. We have EV chargers installed across all our sites in Poland and we are constantly analysing demand to ensure that we can quickly increase the number of chargers if needed. In addition, our centers have adopted the measures required to ensure an inclusive design and experience and removed barriers for people with diverse needs. All our assets are AIS-certified (Accessibility System Indicator) and in 2024 we will introduce significant improvements with a view to upgrading our certification. We are also currently planning a thorough modernization of the facilities at some of our FACTORY centers, focusing not only on enhancing the shopping experience and providing an even better all-around experience for customers but also on raising the bar in terms of employee experience at the outlet centers.

FACTORY Ursus (Warsaw). 19,800 sq m
Welcoming customers for 20 years, the outlet center saw sales grow by 12% in 2023 and footfall climb by 5%. It attracts brands looking to debut in the outlet sector in Poland, such as Joop!, or brands looking to upsize, like Lacoste, who more than doubled its store size in 2023. This year, Samsonite is set to open a spectacular new store.
FACTORY Annopol (Warsaw). 19,800 sq m
Enjoyed growth in 2023, with sales rising by more than 10%. Openings by Salewa and the agreement signed with adidas to open a new store underscore
the true extent of the center’s appeal.

ACROSS: What is special about the Polish outlet market?

Chachulska: NEINVER’s Polish outlet centers stand out for their highly-strategic locations – very close to city centers and benefitting from excellent transport connections. For instance, we have two outlet centers in Warsaw: FACTORY Ursus, which is located near several large housing estates and is served by round-the-clock public transport; and FACTORY Annopol, which is only a seven-minute walk from the Bródno metro station and therefore enjoys the competitive advantage of being able to add convenience to the customer experience. The FACTORY Kraków, Gliwice and Poznań outlet centers are also located just 20-minutes from their respective city centers and are very well connected by both road and public transport, therefore making it easy and convenient for customers to visit the centers.

ACROSS: What is distinctive regarding the retail offer?

Chachulska: FACTORY outlets are renowned among their Polish competitors for their unique sports and outdoor wear brand mix, with top-class tenants such as adidas, Asics, Converse, New Balance, Nike, Puma, Skechers and Under Armour providing an unrivaled sportswear offering. For example, FACTORY Annopol offers the country’s most extensive selection of sports outlet brands.

ACROSS: What brands drive the Polish outlet markets?

Chachulska: Brands within the sports and fashion segments are the brands that are most sought after in the Polish outlet market. FACTORY outlets offer a mix of strong international and local labels, with a strong line-up of top sports brands, as mentioned. There is also increasing interest from more premium tenants, and we are seeing the share of these tenants steadily rising. The attractive value proposal on offer at our centers is drawing in brands such as Hugo Boss, Karl Lagerfeld, Calvin Klein, Guess, Marc
O’Polo and Tommy Hilfiger. In fact, all premium brands finished 2023 with impressive sales growth (+35% vs. 2022), with some booking record growth.

FACTORY Poznań. 14,800 sq m
It registered an impressive +10% growth in footfall and +15% growth in sales, following the Hugo Boss, Lacoste and Converse openings. An upsized adidas store will also open this year. The outlet center’s retail offer attracts customers from over the border in Germany.
FACTORY Gliwice (Silesia). 12,100 sq m
The latest center to join the NEINVER family registered sales density growth of more than +17% vs. 2022, after international brands such as Benetton opened new stores and attracted new customers to the center.

ACROSS: F&B and leisure in particular have gained in importance over the past few years. How is this reflected in the FACTORY brand?

Chachulska: One of the ways for customers to visit our centers more frequently and stay longer is by enhancing the experience through food & beverage and events. In FACTORY outlets, the F&B sales growth in 2023 was more than +18% vs. the previous year, and +27% vs. pre-COVID. F&B is one of the focal points of our strategy and we have a special team exclusively dedicated to this segment, working
to support our partners and help us attain the right mix in our centers to meet the evolving consumer demand. We apply and try out different formats depending on the catchment and location. For instance, FACTORY Kraków is home to a food court, which is a highly effective format that allows us to maximise the range of options on offer. In the summer, we add food trucks as part of our drive to continually offer our customers something different.

In addition, we have been focusing on appealing to our customers through events and promotions. A variety of special events are organised throughout the year and are proving extremely effective in increasing footfall and sales, whilst also enhancing engagement and loyalty. For example, last
autumn, Jungle Night – an evening of extended opening hours that mixes shopping with music and animation – increased brand sales at our centers by 130% vs. 2022 and traffic by 60%, with the retailers that participated in the event registering double-digit growth.

FACTORY Kraków. 21,300 sq m
Remains the region’s leader, recording +10% sales growth in 2023, seeing a new 300 sq m Hugo Boss store open and continuing to offer a premium top
brand mix which includes Karl Lagerfeld, Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.
Futura Park Krakow. 18,500 sq m
Altogether, the retail park and FACTORY Krakow span over 40,000 sq m of retail space on two floors, including an attractive dining offer.

ACROSS: What role does tourism play in the individual locations? What can be expected in this regard in 2024 with the further inrease in international tourism?

Chachulska: FACTORY outlet centers are, in general, less dependent on tourism and more dependent on having a strong domestic catchment area. This is one of the strengths of our portfolio as our assets operate in very strong catchment areas. Most FACTORY outlet customers live within the same region -as the centers themselves, or very close in neighbouring areas. Tourism is obviously an important factor for FACTORY Kraków given the Polish city is a major tourist destination. The outlet center lies just a 15-minute drive away from the city center, is within close proximity of Kraków Airport, and is easily accessed via the highway and key national roads that lead to popular mountain resorts in the south of the country.

ACROSS: What are the technological trends that shape the outlet sector and how is the FACTORY brand responding to these?

Chachulska: Technology is being leveraged in the outlet industry to better understand and predict consumer spending habits, and to better respond to their preferences, ultimately creating value for retailers. Marketing strategies are increasingly shifting to digital and social media, using more targeted communications strategies to better attract the attention of consumers and encourage them to go out and visit an outlet center or retail park. Loyalty programs are being rolled out to incentivise visits through different reward schemes or personalised shopping experiences. NEINVER has been investing in technology, with tools such as Athena – a unique digital ecosystem designed to accurately track consumer shopping behaviour in real time, and CLUB LIFEstyler, a programme which allows us to anticipate and offer value propositions that are individually tailored to each audience.


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