Expansion adds tenants and customers
The major expansion of the Grands Prés shopping centre in Mons, Belgium, is a prime example of Union Investment’s active approach to asset management. This approach creates attractive prospects for tenants and customers alike and unlocks the potential of existing properties.
Summary and achievements
The Grands Prés shopping centre in Mons, Belgium, is extremely well positioned to cope with future developments in shopping. After comprehensive modernisation and expansion by more than 8,000 sq m of retail space to a current total of approximately 26,800 sq m, with a broad sector and tenant mix and more than 100 stores, Grands Prés is a major attraction in the largest retail complex in the Walloon region. Alongside Grands Prés, this leading shopping destination with over 90,000 sq m of retail space in total is also home to a Carrefour hypermarket, IKEA and a retail park.
The starting point
For Union Investment’s asset management team, the decision by IKEA in 2012 to open a 35,000 sq m store next to the existing shopping centre in the established Grands Prés retail location, and to link it to the mall, was the catalyst for this expansion project. The logic was inescapable, with the expected growth in visitor numbers by two million customers a year due to the IKEA store promising a significant increase in potential sales.
As well as adding more space and building an attractive atrium to connect the shopping areas, Union Investment invested in a food court, renewal of the entrances and a modern colour scheme in the public spaces. In total, we spent around EUR 70 million on the work. The partial expansion of the west wing opened in February 2016, with the eastern expansion of the centre following in August 2016.
“The modernisation and expansion of the centre has significantly boosted its attractiveness. We chose exactly the right window of opportunity for the work.”
Lars Richter, Head of Asset Management Retail
This project was a particular challenge for our asset management team because the work was carried out without closing the centre. In addition, complex coordination was required with numerous project participants and contract partners. Alongside IKEA, this included Carrefour, the developer, planners and construction companies, plus the City of Mons, the Walloon government and the EU in order to drive forward external infrastructure improvements.
The results are impressive, with the provision of a direct link to the motorway coinciding with the expansion of Grands Prés. The link was completed in 2016 and greatly improves accessibility. In addition, the free on-site parking for visitors has been extended to a total of 4,200 spaces.
Today, Grands Prés is a more compelling proposition than ever. Customers benefit from the attractive retail offering in and around the fully let shopping centre. Tenants are delighted with the increased customer footfall of around seven million visitors a year. Even in the first year, this was reflected in turnover: sales increased by more than 27 per cent between 2015 and 2016.
Impressions of the redevelopment
Our image gallery contains more pictures of the redevelopment and the Grands Prés shopping centre in Mons.