ACROSS: THE YEAR 2014 IS DRAWING TO A CLOSE. HOW SATISFIED ARE YOU WITH BUSINESS AT TOWER CENTER RIJEKA SO FAR?
CARMEN CHIEREGATO: This was a very successful year for Tower Center Rijeka by any standard. Despite the competition, which is getting stronger, and the general economic crisis, we saw an increase in turnover in all segments in 2014, growth that we consider a validation of our strategy. We are pleased with the results but not surprised, since they are the result of a long-lasting commitment that is finally paying off. New tenants, for example, show that Tower Center Rijeka is a good place for anchoring in our region, while existing tenants have decided to increase store sizes. The loyalty program which is run with the center’s Golden Tower Card also provides positive insights on customer retention and response to promotions.
ACROSS: WHICH FEATURES, ACTIVITIES, EVENTS ETC. ARE YOU PLANNING FOR THE CHRISTMAS TRADE?
CHIEREGATO: Throughout the Christmas period, the center is always beautifully decorated and themed to offer a unique setting for festive shopping and leisure. This has always characterized our mall and made us recognizable in the city and in the region. In addition, we will offer a rich calendar of initiatives for all age groups. In collaboration with our tenants, we have organized a month-long program for children, including workshops, activities, and animations. We will also enhance the mall offer, both in terms of products and food, with a rich selection of traditional stalls and kiosks creating the atmosphere of an indoor Christmas market, a favorite destination during the Christmas season.
ACROSS: COGEST RETAIL, WHICH MANAGES TOWER CENTER RIJEKA, IS AN ITALIAN FIRM. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN PRACTICE? ARE THERE MORE ITALIAN RETAILERS AS TENANTS THAN IN OTHER MALLS IN THE REGION, FOR EXAMPLE?
CHIEREGATO: The center benefits from the successful know-how of Cogest Retail, a company that has managed some 85 shopping centers over the past 20 years, mainly in Italy but also in Eastern Europe. At the same time, Tower Center Rijeka can rely on the expertise and relations built by its local management team, which has run the mall efficiently since its opening eight years ago. The center is strategically oriented towards its regional customers and their preferences; its merchandise and tenant mix is tailored for Croatian buyers. Of course we feature several Italian brands, but these are adapted to the habits and preferences of local customers, who are reasonably affected by the proximity of the Italian market.
ACROSS: WITH ITS FIVE FLOORS, TOWER CENTER RIJEKA REALLY IS ALMOST A TOWER – AND RATHER HIGH FOR A SHOPPING CENTER. HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO SPREAD THE FOOTFALL TO ALL FIVE FLOORS?
CHIEREGATO: The five floors project is a successful solution that adapted the architecture to the ground configuration. It must be noted that the center has outdoor pedestrian entrances on the first and fifth floor, while on the second, third and fourth floors the entrances are direct from the side parking lots. Each floor has its own influx of buyers from the side parking lots and, in a way, each floor has a theme that attracts certain customers.
ACROSS: WHAT ARE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT AND/OR EXTRAORDINARY TENANTS?
CHIEREGATO: Whether we talk of local, national, or international brands, all our tenants are important to us because, together, they contribute to creating a unique shopping and leisure destination for this region. We could single out Konzum, Intersport, Mango, S.Oliver, Elipso, Piazza Italia, Sport Vision, Calzeodnia, Tezenis, Pittarello, Adidas, Nike, and many others as the strongest commercial brands. We must not forget that the center also features Cinestar, the only multiplex cinema in this part of Croatia, which gives the mall an unparalleled entertainment dimension compared to the other centers in the area.
ACROSS: WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT TOWER CENTER RIJEKA’S LOCATION?
CHIEREGATO: The size and offer of this center reveal that it is conceived to combine two different ideas. On one hand, it is an urban destination, located only few minutes’ drive from the town center, to which it is also connected by two city bus lines. On the other hand, it is directly linked to the highway, granting it excellent viability by providing easy access to all customers coming to town for shopping and entertainment from the surrounding areas.
ACROSS: DURING THE NEXT TWO YEARS, TOWER CENTER RIJEKA WILL UNDERGO A REFURBISHMENT. WHY?
CHIEREGATO: We believe that every center after some time needs to be refreshed. After eight to 10 years, the center needs a revamping in order to offer its customers a new and upgraded shopping experience. The refurbishment will entail a change of the internal decoration, tiles, flooring, and equipment for the common areas. We do not want to give away too much, but I will say that Tower Center Rijeka’s new look will be under the sign of color and water…