ACROSS: Please give as a short description of your shopping center portfolio in Finland.
HENRIK STADIGH: Sponda owns five shopping centers in Finland, which are located in Helsinki and in the cities of Tampere and Oulu. In Helsinki and Tampere, we also have eight retail premises that are included in this segment. Last year, total revenue from our shopping center segment was €45.8 million and the fair value of the properties €726.0 million.
ACROSS: Sponda is also active in the office and logistics sector. Compared to your retail properties, which sector is currently the most important and profitable for your company? In addition, what role do mixed-use-schemes play in your business strategy?
PIA ARRHENIUS: According to our strategy, we plan to dispose of our logistics properties in the future. This means that we will be left with office and shopping center properties and a property development unit – which develops office and retail properties for our own portfolio.
ACROSS: Sponda is also active in Russia. What is your strategy there?
ARRHENIUS: We plan to dispose of our holdings in Russia in the future. The disposals are underway and we have already sold properties for €50 million. We still have a further €164 million to dispose.
ACROSS: Does Sponda intend to enter another foreign market in the near future?
ARRHENIUS: Our current strategy is to simplify and streamline our operations, so not at the moment.
ACROSS: What retail developments does Sponda have in its project pipeline?
STADIGH: This spring, we started to build shopping center Ratina in Tampere, which is located in the heart of the city. Ratina is expected to open in spring 2018. The project’s total investment, including the land value, is estimated at approximately €240 million.
ACROSS: What relevance do food-courts and gastronomy have in your shopping centers? What trends have you noticed in this area in Finland in general?
STADIGH: The importance of food courts is growing all the time in our malls, especially in high footfall locations and in large shopping centers.
ACROSS: Who are the most important retailers in your shopping centers?
STADIGH: International fashion tenants, including a Zara flagship store, H&M, and strong mix of Nordic and domestic retailers. Two large hypermarket retailers are also vital. Our aim is to bring to Ratina shops that are new in Pirkanmaa region as well as new brands to our other shopping centers.
ACROSS: How hard has Sponda been hit by the global crisis?
ARRHENIUS: Sponda as a company has been riding out the crisis fairly well. The biggest impact on our operations is on the valuation side. This means that the fair value of properties has fluctuated – as it should – over the crisis.
ACROSS: Are malls in inner cities gaining in importance compared to shopping centers on the “greenfield” sites?
STADIGH: Shopping centers in inner cities will be strong in the future, but shopping centers located on “greenfield” sites need an established marketplace to succeed.