In line with Hyprop’s strategy to own shopping centers that dominate in terms of size, the extension will add 40 new stores, an increase from 182 to 222, making it the second largest shopping center in Bulgaria at 62 000 sq m.
Hyprop CEO, Morné Wilken said: “The completion and the successful opening of the mall extension in Sofia is another important milestone for Hystead and demonstrates its ability to execute its investment strategy to focus on fewer but high quality large dominant shopping centers which deliver sustainable returns for investors through income growth in emerging markets where assets can be acquired or developed at attractive yields.” This upgrade is expected to attract customers and create a preferred location for local and international brands.
Sofia has a population of 1.32 million and produces around 39% of Bulgaria’s GDP. The Mall is strategically located in the eastern part of Sofia, on Tsarigradsko Shose (the busiest boulevard in Bulgaria), which connects the city center with Trakia Highway. The surrounding node consists of numerous high-rise office and residential complexes with more development currently underway.
The extension, funded by DSK Bank, will add a diverse portfolio of brands including a 2 500 sq m modernised version of Billa supermarket one of Central, Eastern and South-eastern Europe’s leading supermarket chains, one of the first Pepco stores in Sofia, a Ciela book store on two levels, Scandinavian home & living retailer Jysk, and a renovated Hippoland kids store. In addition LPP, a leading international fashion group from Poland, will open the biggest Sinsay store in Sofia by August.
The newly built passages are spacious with modern design combining wood, metal and concrete. Another escalator will connect the new extension with the ground floor to create better circulation and improved flow throughout the mall. With the launch of the extension Hystead expects a significant growth in foot fall which will positively impact the overall performance of The Mall in the long term and reconfirm the leadership position of the shopping centre in Sofia.
Wilken added: “This redevelopment includes extensive refurbishments to modernise the shopping center to meet evolving shopper and retailer needs and aligns with our strategy of owning high-quality dominant shopping centers. Through income growth, this addition is expected to deliver sustainable returns for investors.”
Hystead currently owns a portfolio of six prime shopping centers in the capital cities of Bulgaria, Croatia, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. In aggregate, the company’s portfolio is valued at about €800 million. It has commenced with various other investment projects in the rest of the portfolio. Skopje City Mall (36 264 sq m), based in the capital city Skopje in Northern Macedonia, will undergo an 18-month project which entails the right-sizing of various tenants, introducing additional international retailers, upgrading of the toilets, improving the common area and food court, introducing an outside play area and landscaping with improved terraces and adding a new escalator to improve foot fall circulation. The project has commenced and will be completed by March 2021.
Further projects in the portfolio include Delta City Podgorica, based in the capital city Podgorica in Montenegro. The back structured parking deck is currently being upgraded and paid parking will be introduced. There are also plans to expand the mall, subject to planning and council approval, due to the huge demand from retailers to enter the Montenegrin market.