East Gate Mall, one of the major investments of BALFIN Group in Skopje, North Macedonia, seems to have gone beyond expectations in the first 6 months of its opening.
Igor Davkov, the Executive Director of Skopje East Gate, in which one of the most modern neighborhoods of Skopje will soon be completed, with a residential and office complex, talks about the journey so far.
He reveals the innovations that await the center, which is a modern multifunctional complex with an area of 57,000 m2 and a rich portfolio of shops, visited not only by locals, but also by visitors from Kosovo, Albania, southern Serbia and beyond.
Were EGM’s expectations and objectives met in the first six months?
East Gate Mall opened in late Autumn 2021, uniting hundreds of diverse fashion, sports, and entertainment brands. We opened during a difficult time. It was a period of high pandemic peak with a rather extensive list of restrictions. However, the mall took the necessary precautions and showed its care towards tenants and clients, and ensured proper functionality, safety, and security for the visitors. Despite many challenges the mall welcomed more than 150,000 visitors in the first weekend of the opening.
It has been a challenge to provide impeccable service to tenants and visitors, but our dynamic calendar of events and visitor activities ensured a steady growing number of visitors over the months following the opening. The last two months have been especially dynamic as the visitors started to perceive the mall as their new shopping destination in the city.
The mall occupancy with stores opened for trade is more than 90% and with the opening of long expected market entrance of H&M and the cinema by the end of 2022, the mall shall be fully leased.
How has the trend of visitors changed from month to month?
Over half a million people on average were visiting the mall during the winter months. The trend of visitors is growing each month with new people coming to see and experience our offerings. Our target is to reach 8 million visitors this year and to increase the number of visits in the next year to 10 million. As the weather is improving and COVID-19 measures are down, many residents in different parts of the country and the neighboring countries are visiting us more frequently.
Which are the visitors’ favorite brands or products from EGM?
Visitors come to the center mainly to shop for clothes, but also for the gastronomic experience as the offer is one of the best at this part of the city. All tastes are included – from burger options to Mexican cuisine as well as great cafeterias. In addition, the center is placed just 5 minutes from the central square and in direct proximity to important industrial districts of Skopje, so businesspeople can use the services of banks and have business lunches.
People working in the surrounding companies or living nearby frequently stop by for many services we have under one roof: a quick car wash, dry cleaning, pet shop, post office, car maintenance and even last-minute flower and bouquet buy.
Brands from Inditex and LPP chains are few of the most loved and shopped from the teenage and younger visitors. East Gate Mall welcomed the first stores of Zara Home, OYSHO, AX, Hugo, XYZ, Kiko Milano, Underarmor and TAF in Skopje, as well as the latest concepts of Fashion and Friends, Zara, Massimo Dutti, Pull&Bear, Bershka, Intersport, Nike, and BUZZ.
Where do EGM visitors mainly come from?
The mall positioned itself as must see for foreign visitors and tourists who come to Skopje for the first time, as well as visitors from Kosovo and Southern Serbia are frequent regional visitors over the weekends.
Also, residents from the city and all around the country are regular participants in the shopping and entertainment activities of the center.
East Gate Mall is not only a shopping center with many choices, but it is positioning itself as a place where people find amusement, relaxation, joy and consider it a modern space to spend the day.
What surprises are expected at the center in the near future?
Let’s talk about retail innovations. Next month, we are launching instant credit products for our visitors together with our partner banks, which will be unique products in the market, so the visitors can shop easily and on installments. Virtual gift card, the mall’s mobile app with a virtual parking guide and the mall’s loyalty program are also part of the projects that will be launched in the next few months.
The biggest surprise, just in few months from now – is the anticipated market entrance of H&M. The mall shall welcome H&M’s first flagship store of 2,300 m2 in Skopje.
What is a competitive advantage that EGM has, to attract customers from Tirana, Pristina, or Thessaloniki?
Being a new mall, East Gate Mall has the latest concepts of our anchor tenants’ stores. These concepts are not available with the competition. The size of the asset is also a competitive advantage that gives us the possibility to position ourselves as mall that can attract visitors for whole day shopping and entertainment experiences from the neighboring countries. With intensive marketing campaign, promoting the mall as a shopping destination, this summer our target is to also attract the transiting travelers from Europe and Western Balkans to Greece and to Turkey.