The starting point of the company’s leasing strategy is to consider the major trends in the industry and society. This includes the relevance of flagship stores, which has increased considerably in recent years within the industry. These stores provide the opportunity to experience the entire diversity of a brand in spacious areas. URW also attaches strategic importance to three social trends: firstly, the increased importance of leisure activities – especially in the areas of entertainment and culture – secondly, the enthusiasm for experience-oriented dining and differentiated food & beverage concepts and, last but not least, thirdly, the increased desire of people in recent years for sporting activity and a healthy lifestyle. This trend is summarised by the terms sport and fitness, well-being, and health. All these trends are taken into account in decisions on the selection of rental partners and the diversification of the brand and offer mix.
Andreas Hohlmann, Managing Director Austria & Germany at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, says: “There has already been a lot of movement in the market for several years, and accelerated again by the pandemic. Retailers, food & beverage operators, and providers from the leisure and entertainment sectors are making their location decisions very consciously. At URW, we recognized early on how the market is developing and positioned our properties accordingly. We offer a portfolio with the most attractive assets, focus on flagship stores of the most sought-after brands as well as the major trends from the industry and society. Thanks to our very early established and consistently pursued strategy, we offer exactly the retail properties, flagship destinations, and urban quarters where our partners want to be represented with their stores. The more than 730 leases and cooperations we have agreed in the region Germany and Austria in 2022 are excellent proof of the success of this strategy.”
Flagship stores with large-scale brand concepts
A central focus of URW is the implementation of flagship formats in its retail and leisure destinations. H&M, for example, opened enlarged and modernized stores at centers operated by URW. In Wilma in Berlin, H&M Home was implemented and H&M’s total store space was expanded to around 3,550 sq m. In Riem Arcaden, the company also integrated an H&M Home in the modernized 3,660 sq m space.
In addition, URW signed contracts for several flagship stores together with Inditex: A flagship Zara store is
planned at Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier – one of the brand’s largest. Inditex is also coming to Hamburg with four other brands, Bershka, PULL&BEAR, Stradivarius, and Oysho. In Minto in Mönchengladbach, Zara opens the doors to a flagship store with 3,000 sq m of rental area at the end of February. The first PULL&BEAR in Bavaria and the first Bershka in Munich opened in Riem Arcaden last year. Likewise, the expansion of the Zara branch into a flagship store was agreed upon for Westfield Donau Zentrum in Vienna, which will be the largest Zara in Austria in the future.
URW has agreed on a further expansion and modernization of an area into a flagship format with JD Sports in Westfield Centro. The store, which has now opened and comprises around 1,250 sq m of rental area, is one of the sneaker and streetwear brands largest in Germany. JD Sports is also on board with a mega-store in Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier. Also in Hamburg: a flagship store by Snipes. Furthermore, URW has strengthened its partnership with Rituals at three locations: at Westfield Centro in
Oberhausen and Ruhr Park in Bochum, the shops were modernized and expanded into flagship stores. The store at Westfield Centro, where the area was tripled, is now the company’s largest in the DACH region. In addition, Rituals also signed a lease for the mixed-use quarter in Hamburg.
Diversification of the offer in line with major trends in the industry and society
Another important element in URW’s leasing strategy concerns diversification within the brand and concept mixes and along the major trends from the industry and society. In the leisure sector, there are a number of exemplary collaborations: These include the planned opening of Boda Borg at Ruhr Park in Bochum. The team adventure world, which picks up on the questing trend, covers 2,900 sq m of rental area. It will be the provider’s first location in Germany. Also in this category is Port des Lumières, the future digital art center at Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier. The art, culture, and entertainment offer by French operator Culturespaces is spread over around 3,100 sq m. In Austria, Zero Latency, a new type of virtual reality gaming offer, was launched at Westfield Shopping City Süd in Vösendorf in the greater Vienna area. The gaming provider, which is represented worldwide, is celebrating its market entry in Austria with the already-opened space. Another market entry in Austria, which also contributes to the diversification of the offer at Westfield Shopping City Süd, comes from BYD Europe, one of the world’s leading electric car manufacturers.
Profile strengthening in the premium segment
In parallel, URW is strengthening the profiles of the brand mix depending on the positioning of the location and has thus agreed on a number of cooperations with premium brands. For example, the company concluded contracts with GANT for Breuningerland Ludwigsburg as well as for Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier. The opening of the new store at Breuningerland Ludwigsburg, operated by URW, has already taken place. Lacoste is another brand sharpening the profile of brand mixes. Here, partnerships have been concluded for a pop-up store at URW-operated Riem Arcaden in Munich and for a permanent store in the mixed-use project in Hamburg’s HafenCity in 2022. In addition, Hugo Boss is opening stores at Höfe am Brühl in Leipzig, as well as in Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier. In Austria, a cooperation agreement was concluded with Longchamp for Westfield Shopping City Süd. The store will be the first in a shopping center in Austria.