The share of food & beverages in modern shopping centres in Sofia is two to three times below the European benchmark, according to the latest report by Colliers International. From 5% a decade ago, it grew to 10-15% of GLA in European cities in present times and is forecasted to reach 20% by 2025. The share of F&B in Sofia shopping centres is about 6% or 20,000 sqm of the total space.
The subcategory distribution in Sofia is shopping centre specific. A common feature for all the malls is the presence of fast food restaurants. On the contrary, specialized restaurants and bars are present in only 3 out of 8 malls.
According to the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC), about 80% of the F&B space in a shopping centre should be dedicated to fast food, casual dining restaurants and bars & clubs, with the remaining 20% focused on impulse treats and coffee shops. The Sofia shopping centres, part of the survey, are in line with this standard.
F&B in Sofia shopping malls predominantly consists of local brands. The highest concentration of international operators is registered for coffee shops and fast food. Traditionally, the operators are located on food courts, where customers could find burgers & sandwiches (32%) and pizza, pasta and seafood (22%). A notable trend is the growing popularity of healthy food.
Colliers International conducted a survey among F&B operators in Bulgaria. It revealed that 67% of the participants have intentions to expand in 2019. High streets and shopping centres are the most preferred locations; 38% of the respondents would consider the opening point of sales in office buildings, and 25% would look for space in retail parks. The cities of interest are Sofia (88%), Varna (25%), and Burgas (19%).
Colliers’ report outlines the main development directions of the F&B category in the country. They are related to the expansion of the food court areas in shopping centres, the entrance of new international operators and increasing diversity of the food offers. Malls could take advantage of the untapped potential for the development of bars and clubs as part of the tenant mix.
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