Source: eKapija | Sunday, 03.03.2019.| 20:35
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Josko Pitesa, Operations Manager at Immofinanz – New Stop Shop in Sremska Mitrovica in August 2019

Josko Pitesa
The Stop Shop brand in Serbia is present in nine locations with 83,600 square meters of lease space. The retail facilities have been leased since the opening and there has been very positive feedback from international lessees. They see great potential in the Serbian market, due to the great demand for retail space.

This is how Josko Pitesa, Operations Manager at Immofinanz, describes the company’s current operations in Serbia. In his interview with eKapija, he talks about the recent acquisitions of Immofinanz in the region, the company’s business results, trends in the retail sector and plans for the upcoming period.

eKapija: In mid-November 2018, Immofinanz continued expanding its Stop Shop portfolio with the purchase of eight new retail parks in Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia. How did this transition and the acquisition of the facilities from their previous owners go? What should these acquisitions bring to the retail parks and how do you rate their operations three months later?

– The process of acquisition went along smoothly and we are very glad to say that the newly acquired facilities have already been leased and that they generate an annual rent income of close to EUR 7.2 million. The acquisition in Serbia includes retail parks with nearly 32,500 square meters of lease space in Subotica, Borca and Smederevo, and MPC Group was the seller.

All these acquisitions will strengthen our position as the leading operator of retail parks in Europe. The beginning of operations in Croatia marks our entrance to a new EU market, which is always attractive to our international lessees. A combination of a good location, great attendance, favorable local competition and known lessees is characteristic of such attractive investment opportunities.

All the facilities will be rebranded in line with the Stop Shop concept.

eKapija: Do you plan any additional investments in these facilities, that is, their expansion, new features, brands...?

– The new real estate features an attractive combination of lessees, including those that have already found their place in other Stop Shop retail parks, such as C&A, New Yorker, Deichmann, CCC, KIK Retail, Takko Fashion, Pepco, Mueller, DM, JYSK... In general, the Stop Shop concept targets the whole family, so the offer of our typical combination of lessees covers fashion, furniture, home equipment, supermarket, food, electronics, beauty, care and sports.

eKapija: How do you see the operations of Immofinanz in the past period?

– With the opening of Stop Shop retail parks in Pozarevac and Vrsac in the first half of 2018, we confirmed the promise we gave in 2015, when we arrived to the Serbian market – we expanded our international chain of retail parks. We are proud to say that, today, the Immofinanz Stop Shop portfolio, including the latest acquisitions, features 80 retail parks in nine countries: Slovakia (16), Hungary (14), Austria (12), the Czech Republic (10), Slovenia (9), Serbia (9), Poland (7), Croatia (2) and Romania (1).

Immofinanz is the only company that offers such a wide network of locations, clear brand management and quick and efficient expansion. These factors help us expand our leading role in the market. Our size, combined with the fact that we have familiarized ourselves with this type of operations very well, provides us with access to numerous other retail park operators that want to sell their portfolio and exit the market.

eKapija: How do you rate the trends in the retail sector in Serbia and the region? Where is the market heading to and what are Immofinanz’ expectations?

– The market in the region is very positive. In the upcoming years, we expect a further increase in sales in the countries Stop Shop operates in. One thing is very important for us – we use the free market potential. In other words, our strategy is not to open new facilities next to competing outlets. This approach has been very successful – over 120 million customers visited our Stop Shop and VIVO! retail facilities in the financial year 2017. Stop Shop is the leading brand among retail parks and we will continue to invest in our customers’ loyalty.

eKapija: You have announced that you will consider further acquisitions and that two Stop Shop retail parks, in Serbia and Poland, are in a development phase. What are the company’s plans for the upcoming period?

– We are working on expanding the Stop Shop brand. We have announced that we intend to expand to around 100 locations and everything is going as planned at the moment.

When it comes to plans for Serbia, we are currently building a new Stop Shop retail park in Sremska Mitrovica, which will feature around 7,000 square meters of lease space and which will open in August 2019.

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