by Ákos Budai | Retail

2016 was marked by the wait for the Posnania shopping centre to open, with its 60,000 sqm of Gross Leasable Area (GLA). However, next year we will see the opening of as many as three buildings with an area of over 60,000 sqm of GLA: Galeria Północna in Warsaw, Wroclavia and Forum Gdańsk.


Developers are currently focused on two market segments – the largest agglomerations and cities with fewer than 100,000 residents. A similar proportion in the amount of investment is also expected next year. “The fact that the commercial market is undergoing a slowdown in investment does not mean that nothing of interest is happening,” says Katarzyna Michnikowska, senior analyst at Colliers International.
 
Both in 2016 and 2017, as much as 15% of the annual supply of space will come from expansions and the modernisation of older facilities, which confirms the stability of this trend in Poland. In the middle of this year, the Gdansk Morena centre was completed, and next year a big change will take place in the Galaxy shopping centre in Szczecin, which will be extended by 17,000 sqm.
 
In terms of area, the share of traditional shopping centres in annual supply is still dominant, but we can observe an increase in the number of retail parks, which both this year and next will constitute a third of total investment. Interestingly, next year will bring the further development of outlet centres in Poland, both through expansion and new sites (e.g. Outlet Center Bydgoszcz).
 
Interesting phenomena can also be observed in the market for tenants. The largest leases this year were signed in facilities that are under construction or at an advanced stage of preparation – Galeria Północna in Młociny in Warsaw and Galeria Libero in Katowice. What's interesting, however, is that tenants such as H&M, TK Maxx, LPP Group brands and the cinema chain Helios have also signed leases in re-commercialised facilities that have already been operating for several years. Colliers International has also observed rapid development in the sports sector, including by Martes Sport and gym chains. Next year will see a number of signings by small and medium-area tenants.
 
Retail chains have also made spectacular transactions – the children’s goods chain Smyk was bought by the Bridgepoint fund, Penta Investments is in the process of acquiring 100% of the shares in EMPiK Media & Fashion and the grocery chain Żabka was offered for sale by current owner Mid Europa Partners for €1 billion. Acquisitions have also been made in the e-commerce sector – footwear retailer CCC purchased e-obuwie, and Allegro was sold to a group of private equity funds. 
 
The number of debuts on the Polish market is decreasing (15-20 per year, compared to 35-40 before 2014); in 2016 retail chains such as Forever 21, &Other Stories and Uterqüe appeared in Poland. As in previous years, some retailers decided to leave the Polish market, often due to global operational problems, as in the case of M&S and the Alma chain of delicatessens. Many chains present in the market are taking action to improve the standard of service through modernising their stores or introducing new services – IKEA opened its first pick-up point in the Turawa centre near Opole, and Carrefour started selling food on the Internet and introduced a click&collect system in their 86 stores. 
 
Both the food and the catering sectors have been very active in the past year – Green Cafe Nero began to expand outside of Warsaw, Costa Coffee and Amrest Group accelerated their development, and new chains appeared on the market (Second Cup) as well as new retail concepts (Nowakowski Gorąco Polecam).
 
In the past year, the commercial market has been driven by many factors changing consumer behaviour, such as, on the one hand the 500+ family assistance program, the higher minimum wage and free prescriptions for seniors, and on the other the development of e-commerce, new technologies and increased awareness about healthy living. 2017, in turn, can bring many changes resulting from new legal and tax rules, including the retail sales tax and the law to limit trading on Sunday.