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Galierija Belgrad opened in October of last year. Credit: Galerija Belgrade

Significant market growth in Belgrade

After the two shopping center openings in the Serbian capital, the focus shifts slightly to secondary cities and the wider Belgrade region, putting retail parks in the spotlight.

On October 30, 2020, Serbia’s hitherto biggest shopping center opened its doors in the country’s capital–the Galerija Belgrad, for which Eagle Hills is responsible. As part of Belgrade Waterfront, the scheme will become an attraction on the local market, both because of its location on the river bank, and because of the size, facilities and product and service range it offers. With a GLA of 93,000 sq m, the biggest green roof in the region, and as many as 3,600 parking spaces, it offers a shopping experience which will be further expanded over time. 

Visitors will find popular international and local brands in one place and enjoy dozens of cafes and restaurants with a beautiful view of the river. In addition to the biggest trampoline park in this part of Europe, there is also Cineplexx Galerija Belgrade–a multiplex cinema with nine halls and more than 1,700 seats, equipped with IMAX technology for movie projection. The architecture is inspired by the spirit and streets of Belgrade with its stone and glass exterior as well as interior floors and facades made of natural materials.

MPC Properties in Union with Atterbury Europe

And yet the market has been even growing even bigger last year with the opening of the BEO Shopping Center by MPC Properties and Atterbury Europe on the corner of Vojislava Ilića and Mis Irbijeve street on June 25, 2020. The total investment value exceeded EUR 110 million. The mall’s offer comprises more than 130 global and regional brands, including Cineplexx, Pull&Bear, Bershka, Stradivarius, H&M, C&A, LC Waikiki, Women’secret, Deichmann, Reserved, Mojito, Springfield, House, Cropp, Lindex, Sportina, Fashion&Friends, Guess, Superdry, N Fashion, Beosport, Office Shoes, Coffee Room, Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC, dm, Maxi, Jasmin, Pertini Toys, Intersport, Buzz, Sport Vision, Casa Bianca, and Laguna. BEO Shopping Center has three floors, a garage with over 1,200 parking spaces as well as 13 restaurants. The opening was originally scheduled of April 2020 but was ultimately postponed due to Covid-19.

“BEO Shopping Center combines highest-level expertise with rich experience that MPC Properties possesses in developing and operating modern malls in the region. The process of building this center, from the phases of design and concept, through construction and negotiations with brand representatives and all the way to image definition, involved more than 2,000 people. This team jointly contributed in building of a facility which now brings the spirit of global cities to Belgrade and will help improve not only the retail offer on the market, but also set the standard for future projects”, commented Maxence Liagre, CEO of MPC Properties, and continues: “I am very proud of the fact that BEO development created more than 1,000 new jobs, thus significantly impacting the employment rate and the economy. The center boasts state-of-the-art design, works of the Dutch design company TT Design, with such appealing and inviting architecture providing a pleasant environment where you feel a touch of nature. BEO has spacious rest areas, a unique food court with two terraces, modern restaurants, multiplex cinema with 8 high-tech screening rooms and a safe and protected children’s playground. It will for sure be a new symbol of Belgrade.”

421,000 sq m stock, with more to come

According to the current “Belgrade Retail Market Snapshot Q3/2020” by CBRE, the Serbian capital’s shopping center stock amounts to 421,000 sq m after these two significant openings. The monthly lease rates per square meter range between 26 and 18 euros. While last year’s third quarter did record a slight decrease in rental levels, temporary reductions still do not create new trend on the market and are rather perceived as the market’s response to the ongoing disruption, according to CBRE’s experts. The prime yield of Belgrade’s shopping centers is at 8.25 percent, retail parks are at 8.75 percent.

Although the shopping habits of consumers were affected by the pandemic, the construction activity remained relatively unchanged which is reflected in the new supply and increasing number projects under construction. After the two shopping center openings in the capital, the focus shifted slightly to secondary cities and the wider Belgrade region, putting retail parks in the spotlight. 

IKEA’s plans for retail parks

Correspondingly, IKEA announced end of last year their plans to invest 50 million euro in the construction of a shopping park near Belgrade. The company intends to start the construction of the scheme, named AVA Shopping Park, in the beginning of 2021, it said in a statement. AVA Shopping Park, which will be adjacent to the company’s store in the vicinity of the Bubanj Potok tollbooth on the motorway linking Belgrade to the borders with Bulgaria and Hungary, will have about 400 employees and a footprint of 30,000 sq m. “We recently signed a contract with IT Tel & Vila Grad, a local company with over 800 employees, which will be the main contractor. We also hope that our Serbian partners, who have been an important source of support to the project from the beginning, will soon complete the procedure related to the construction permit, so that the works can start as soon as possible,” the manager of the project, Branko Mihajlov, said. The IKEA store in Belgrade, opened in August 2017, spreads on an area of 33,000 sq m and offers some 9,500 products. It also has a restaurant with 500 seats and a parking lot for 1,400 vehicles.Belgrade’s retail market is therefore consistently in motion.