The new joint venture with the Iulius Group in Romania has allowed Atterbury Europe to gain a third foothold in Europe, after Cyprus and Serbia. Raoul De Villiers, Head of Developments for Atterbury Europe gave us the lowdown on the latest news.


Why specifically Romania?
Romania has been on our radar for quite some time as it is one of the fastest growing economies in the EU. Young Romanians are highly educated, English-proficient and eager to build their country. Also, the Romanian market is maturing and therefore the need for world-class retail and entertainment is growing.

How was the Iulius Group identified as the right partner with which to stay true to Atterbury’s slogan “a matter of association”?
Two major factors played a role. Firstly, we have many similarities, such as the way we operate and our work ethic. Secondly, there was great chemistry between our teams since the first meeting more than a year ago.

The first project is the Openville mall in the city of Timisoara, right? What is the current status of the mall, and what is proposed? When will that roll-out start?
That’s right, yes. Openville is a world-class, mixed-use development that will comprise of retail, leisure, hospitality, offices and a park. One office tower has been completed and occupied; construction of the second office tower has started already and designs are being finalised on the retail extension.

And how have the past year’s operations unfolded in Atterbury Europe’s other territories? Is everything on track? Did the political situation in Europe have any impact?
Not really, we have been blessed to grow faster than we initially expected. Aside from the normal day-to-day challenges, we have been forging strong relationships and partnerships which will enable us to deliver some exciting projects over the next couple of years.

Has it made a difference having more South African team members on the ground in Europe permanently?
Definitely. It’s been great to have Martin [Olivier, finance director] and CJ [Wegner, group accountant] join us after we spent more than a year in Europe by ourselves. It makes a big difference to have our friends and colleagues close by. We are very excited about our CEO Henk Deist and his family’s arrival in a couple of weeks, we wish them all the best for the last couple of “hurdles” and eagerly await their arrival. We have also appointed a Head of Asset Management for Europe, whom we will introduce in good time.

What is the broad-strokes plan for Atterbury Europe for the next year or so?
Aside from investing in the territories where we already operate, we will probably be looking more towards Western Europe for opportunities.  We have just completed the fit-out of our new Leiden office in the Netherlands and will take occupation next week. This is a big step for us as this would be our first permanent base in Europe… we have been working from various interesting locations.