Bettina Schragl

IMMOFINANZ: spring festival in GOODZONE and keen media interest

On 10 April 2014, IMMOFINANZ Group hosted a huge spring and welcome party at its newest shopping center in Moscow: starting at midday, GOODZONE was filled with a wide variety of attractions, ranging from numerous raffles to entertainment programmes for children and photo-boxes. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony started at noon, and the party ended in the evening with a live concert by the popular singer Vera Brezhneva.We also took advantage of the opportunity for media contacts and held a press conference focusing on our Russian activities. "Russia is one of our most important core markets, thus in the future we will also continue to examine investment opportunities – not only in retail, but in the logistics segment as well", CEO Eduard Zehetner explained. He talked about potential investment volumes on a scale of between EUR 300 million and EUR 500 million in the next five years.

In regard to this IMMOFINANZ will continue to concentrate on Moscow and the "Moscow region" (this is the densely populated and economically well-developed metropolitan area around Moscow). In the scope of ambitious urban development plans (including development of the road network and infrastructure and extension of the underground to the Moscow region to get the traffic problem under control), the municipal government is interested in acquiring investors and making investments attractive. For example, new industry clusters are to be developed in the Moscow region. There are also plans to relocate logistics properties from the city to the region. The construction of the CKAD (Central Ring Road) is likely to provide new momentum to the entire region; by 2018 over 60 percent of the traffic that currently uses the MKAD (Moscow Ring Road) is to be shifted to the CKAD. To put the scale into more tangible terms: the CKAD will have a length of 520 kilometres (this is longer than the distance from Vienna to Innsbruck).

Asked about the effects of the Ukraine crisis, Zehetner said: "The current political tensions are certainly not encouraging for getting foreign investors invest in Russia". And: "But the situation can also change again quickly".

Of course the weakness of the rouble and the handling of it were also an issue for the journalists. A continuing decline in the value of the Russian currency could put some tenants resp. their customers under pressure. Zehetner reiterated that IMMOFINANZ is always ready to listen to its tenants. For example, the property group also successfully accompanied its tenants through the financial crisis in 2008/09.

One more brief comment on GOODZONE: it is both the fifth and, at about 55,000 sqm of lettable space, the second-largest shopping centre of IMMOFINANZ in the Russian capital. "The occupancy rate is currently 90 percent; by the end of the year we anticipate full occupancy", according to Zehetner. The list of tenants includes all major international chains such as Adidas, H&M, Inditex, Lacoste, and Mango – but also Deichmann, which is opening its first store in Russia in GOODZONE. The range of stores is supplemented by popular local brands such as electronics supplier MVideo and children's shops Deti and Korablik.

IMMOFINANZ Group has been on the Moscow retail real estate market since 2006 and operates the flagship property Goldman Babylon Rostokino as well as the likewise extremely successful shopping centres Golden Babylon Otradnoe, Golden Babylon Yasenevo and 5th Avenue. With the opening of GOODZONE, the total lettable space of IMMOFINANZ's Moscow portfolio increases to 280,000 sqm.