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Shopping centers need the colour of small shops

24 March 2011 / 13:03:03  GRReporter
3760 reads

Victoria Mindova

Big shopping centres and malls welcome small merchants and invite them to find a new shelter with them. This is the answer of the President of the Greek Committee of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Todor Tsaragionis to the question of GRReporter "Do you think that malls will wipe out small traders?" He spoke at the one-day seminar of the Committee on how Greece could learn from the Spanish experience in the real estate market and shopping centres and gave a different perspective of the reform in retail and the opportunities for paradigm shift.

There is a widespread view in Greece that malls and big shopping centres will thrash small shops and hundreds of thousands of small entrepreneurs will remain on the street. They stated from the House of small traders and craftsmen recently that market redistribution is taking place in Greece now as big business interests want to gain a larger market share. The Union of Greek Merchants also sends an SOS message and points out the construction of large shopping centres along with high taxes and low liquidity as the most serious problems of the small trader.

"Entrepreneurs who are engaged in the development of shopping centres like small traders, because they give specific individuality and charm of the premises," said Todor Tsaragionis exclusively to GRReporter. The aim of the shopping centres is not to wipe out the small traders, but to attract them. The benefits are that large stores gain colorful individuality, and small traders can take advantage of the regulated environment and the constant customer flow."

The General Manager of Sierra Development Greece Tiago Eiro spoke about his company's experience in Spain and Portugal, where retailing was not sufficiently developed before the emergence of large shopping centres in contrast to Greece. "There was not particularly strong retail in Portugal, when we started the business with large shopping centers. It has evolved very rapidly and we took many traders with us in this rapid growth. "

Todor Tsaragionis told that large mall type stores in Spain are not specifically different in the various cities. If the user ignores the architecture, everything else is the same - the known brands (Zara, Mango, H & M) with the same collections and the same marketing concepts. Therefore, owners of large stores try to attract retailers as they give a distinctive look and a sense of uniqueness of the store. The expert said that recent trends are the retailers to be changed each year so as to create a feeling of constant renewal, known from open markets.

"The market of shopping centres is not so well developed in Greece yet and small entrepreneurs can find suitable premises at very good prices," said Todor Tsaragionis. He stressed that under ideal conditions small family businesses can easily expand their horizons to a new type of customers and trade through opening a shop in a large shopping centre and to keep their personal approach and closer relationships with the customers of their first shop at the same time.

What was mentioned above, however, remains only in theory right now because it appears that the economic crisis is equally cruel for both large and small companies. "All complain in times of crisis - those on the central shopping streets and those in the most popular shopping centres. Foreign experience shows that both types of trade can cooperate in a better way." Tsaragionis said that the emergence of new shopping centres reduces the level of deposits and rents for established commercial sites, thereby reducing the operational costs of the activity, and prices drop, which is to the benefit of the end customer.

Greeks love retail and real estate, said the businessman. He explained that the regulations in Greece do not restrict  the location of the shops in any way. Thus, each ground floor of any multi-storey residential building in Athens and other cities in the country has a shop. The areas designated for shops are used for garages, offices, even homes, and only some of them for retail. Many retailers are not real businessmen, also said Todor Tsaragionis. He pointed out that in most cases they are people who have a child or children who do not want to study and their parents find the easy solution for their financial survival by opening a small store from which to make a living.

"Retailing is a specific business for specific professionals," was emphatic Tsaragionis. He made it clear that the widely-developed retail in Greece is not resulting from a thorough examination of business opportunities but is to find a quick solution in terms of hyper consumption. The business environment has changed after the economic crisis. "Retailers are some of the smartest and most flexible businessmen," said Todor Tsaragionis and this can not be ignored.
We asked Mr. Tsaragionis whether he sees Athens filled with new malls in the next five years and the response was not positive. "Currently, the estimated figures for the realization of a new project for a large shopping mall are not effective." He explained that, in order to implement a similar project, the basic business model that relies on investment, financing and expected return should be followed. "We make cuts in current expenditure for the moment. No project is feasible under the present conditions," said the entrepreneur. He emphasized that there is no funding. International banks have no interest in investing in Greece and local banks have no money in cash. "This is happening today, but we are not changing our business. We believe that things will be better tomorrow."


Tags: EconomyMarketsShopping centresMallsGreeceRetail
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