Panorama Mall opened in April 2014 in Pleven, a city of 115 thousand in North-Central Bulgaria to overturn market sentiment toward new retail markets. Forton was assigned with the leasing and management of the property in the summer of 2013.
Construction works on Panorama Mall were halted during the severe economic downturn in 2009 due to limited demand and financial difficulties. The project was re-launched after a distressed sale to a new investor who hired Forton to engineer and execute a new leasing strategy and manage the property. Forton had to address the negative image from unsuccessful restarts, a number of examples for underperforming shopping malls in second-tier cities and pressure on market rents. Speed and adherence to schedule were essential to avoid any risks of deepening of negative connotation of the project. Moreover, Panorama Mall was the first scheme of its kind in Pleven and the first restructuring effort in the post-crisis shopping center market.
Forton was assigned with the leasing and property management. It carved new project concept and market positioning, developed merchandize and tenant mix, as well as a leasing strategy. In the implementation phase emphasis was on international retailers and on affordable and modern shopping experience in accordance with the local consumer market potential. Forton advised on the commercial terms, negotiated with tenants and ensured smooth leasing and fit-out coordination. It provided property management set-up from the ground up, including expense projections, on-site team training, prudent tender process for term arrangement for various contractors and suppliers.
In nine months Panorama Mall achieved 75 per cent pre-opening occupancy and a sustainable mix of mid-range fashion, food and entertainment in a city where international brands were non-present before. Anchored by Carrefour, Arena Cinema, H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB, LC Waikiki, Sport Vision and Hippoland this 17,500-sqm development enjoys high footfall levels, comparable to the ones in shopping malls in much bigger cities. The occupancy increased to 85 per cent in three months after opening.
Forton facilitated the first moves of international brands in this region of the country, helping position Panorama Mall as the preferred shopping destination.
The management is organized by world class standards to ensure long term sustainability: optimized operating expenses with all necessary controlling procedures in place and mechanisms to control operational risks and service quality.