The final phase of the Mall of Cyprus extension in Nicosia was opened recently, just in time for the festive season. Atterbury Europe asset manager Vlad Valcea gives us the lowdown.

What were the main elements of the final phase, and how many extra tenants were you able to accommodate in the end?
The third and final phase of the expansion involved the opening of Marks & Spencer in early November 2019, together with some other store openings located in the same area of the main mall building. A total of 28 new tenants were welcomed in the extended scheme, three quarters of which are stores and the rest are kiosks.

Can you tell us more about the grand opening? How was the response from shoppers, and tenants?
A ribbon-cutting event (see video here) was organised for the launch in the presence of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, the cabinet of ministers, the Atterbury Europe board and other Atterbury team representatives, shop owners and mass media associates and representatives. For phases one and two there were a variety of activations (see video here), which included promoters welcoming our guests in all entrances, live links by radio station, a concert by a popular local band, balloons and stilt-walkers creating hype in the mall, alongside a consumer competition that ran in parallel. All of this was backed by a strong above-the-line campaign across TV, radio, digital, outdoor and print. The response from customers and feedback from tenants were very positive.

How has the mall been doing since the expansion was first opened at the end of March 2019? Are you happy with shopper uptake?
We are very pleased with the excellent turnout so far and the consistency of significant growth. Since last April, the average monthly traffic to date has increased by 44% compared to the similar period last year.

Can you share some stats to paint the picture?
August was a record month with over 600 000 visitors, which translates into 22 visitors per square meter of gross lettable area. During the Black Friday weekend, over 100 000 customers visited the mall. The weekends and holidays are still the busiest periods – little surprise there – but the success of the food court has been astonishing. It’s buzzing every day of the week and it has become a meeting place for everyone on the island.

Last time you told us that another new mall started trading towards the end of last year; has the competition impacted on the success of Mall of Cyprus, in your opinion? How has the retail environment in Nicosia changed?
Worthy competition has indeed appeared on the market and has changed the retail landscape of Nicosia. It was an inevitable and natural evolution, as the capital city can accommodate both projects in different parts of it. Overall, the impact has been minimal and below our expectations, since Mall of Cyprus still holds the better location, better access and denser catchment area. Moreover, Mall of Cyprus is part of a mixed-use scheme with a superior food and entertainment offering, which are at the heart of today’s successful retail schemes.

And what are the biggest challenges now that the development is complete and the focus shifts towards asset management? What is on the priority list for 2020?
The redevelopment expansion has undoubtedly solidified our position as a market leader in Cyprus, but going forward, the responsibility shifts to the asset and property management teams to ensure the project constantly evolves and accommodates a superior tenant mix, while equally focusing on effective marketing initiatives and creating a comfortable ambience that places the customer experience at the center of it all.