Life pre-Covid masked many under-lying problems within the retail real estate industry in Poland. Even before lockdown, certain centers were over-rented with falling footfall and even worse – a combination of falling footfall and declining conversion rates. But as long as the tenants were required to pay rents, many executives would ask ‘why rock the boat?!’ If I may stay with the water theme, now that the tide water has receded thanks to Covid, we see quite clearly who is now swimming naked! With so many retail centers in need of re-positioning, does leadership have access to the right data and strategic advice? More importantly, will they then have the confidence to act?
Our workload at Inspire Real Estate Advisory spiked when Covid hit. We have been extremely busy working on some very interesting projects with tremendous potential. Given so much uncertainty due to Covid and the cost of being ‘wrong’ in real estate, it is understandable that many real estate executives are currently undergoing a bit of decision paralysis. However, I’d like to take a moment and highlight a group that was way ahead of the trend of re-purposing retail real estate even before Covid hit: Sierra Balmain.
To be fair, Sierra Balmain manages arguably some of the more complex and challenging real estate assets in the region – assets that require a more hands-on and aggressive strategy. So, they are always looking at re-positioning strategies. But I give them tremendous credit for seeing even pre-Covid how ‘creating community’ within their assets drives not only higher footfall, but also improves conversion and makes their centers relevant within the lives of their target consumers. Paul, James, and Tim at Sierra Balmain actually deliver on the company’s motto: “Creating the Future: Not just talking about it!” We are proud to have Sierra Balmain as one of our Inspire Partners and it is a pleasure to work with competent professionals who share the positive long-term vision of retail real estate in Poland. We WILL get through this together.