By Rüdiger Dany
Managing retail properties across 14 countries in Europe and Turkey, Multi has witnessed a wide range of scenarios and responses to Covid-19 by national and local governments. The timing of the outbreak across Europe also meant that we had to activate our business continuity plans, protocols and pandemic plan fairly early in some regions, such as Italy, the first country to be badly affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Our plans are structured on a country level, assuring that each country was running at the appropriate phase of the pandemic plan. We put together an international, cross-organisational task force to coordinate country responses and share best practices from across our organization.
The fact that we operate in 14 countries could be seen as a challenge, but we saw this as an opportunity and seized it with both hands to get head of what was coming. For instance, the lessons learned from the lockdown in Italy proved very useful in countries that were hit later by the outbreak. This enabled us to prepare procedures and communications for our other country operations, taking into account a range of potential scenarios. Thanks to this, we were able to respond quickly and cooperate timely with our investors and clients in other countries. We quickly defined our approach to lockdowns and opened communication channels assuring also timely communication with tenants and customers.
Over the past few months, our internal cross-country communications and cooperation have got closer and more intense. We see this closer and more proactive relationship between our country operations as a clear win from this Covid-19 crisis. It gave us the opportunity to exchange experiences and come up with some valuable ideas and concepts for the reopening of our centres. For example, Multi has set up a dedicated task force of experts, including our in-house design studio TTDesign, to coordinate and prepare for a safe reopening strategy for the retail destinations across our portfolio. This showcased our strength as a pan-European platform, as we shared the experiences of each country reopening, starting with Germany in mid-May, followed by all of the countries we are operating in. We improved with each reopening and used the experience and time to prepare for the next countries to reopen.
Being exposed to all the different scenarios and government approaches also enabled us to advise and support our clients as we were able to anticipate the risks and opportunities with viewpoints from 14 countries. The collaboration with owners, clients, institutional investors and other business partners has yielded good results in this challenging situation. We are very grateful for the close, trustworthy and effective cooperation with our investors on the one hand and tenants on the other, which has enabled us to secure the value of the assets and to support the retailers, who have been severely affected by the crisis.
At Multi, we believe that a company can only be successful if its long-term strategy includes an agile approach to external factors. Our teams have been solution-oriented right from the start, developing solutions and seizing opportunities with a huge amount of entrepreneurial spirit. In this sense, the experiences of the past few months have strengthened our expansion policy and business strategy. Based on the experience we have gained in the pandemic, I expect us to come up with new approaches with regards to the development and the preparation of new master plans. Topics such as mixed-use, but also digitalisation, crisis management, and hygiene concepts are now moving even more into focus.
Multi is proud to be part of an industry that has played an important role meeting our communities’ daily needs in unprecedented times. Now that restrictions in most countries have been relaxed or will be relaxed in the near future, we look forward to offering our communities a safe destination to reconnect with each other, to spend time outside their homes and to have a good time.