Anchor Group made history
once more in Romania

NineO'Clock.ro

Affan Yildirim, General Manager of Anchor Group in Romania: 2016 isn’t only a year in which we achieved success, but one in which Anchor Group made history once more in Romania
Mr. Affan Yildirim, we are close to the end of 2016. How will the Anchor Group end this year in terms of achievements versus strategies settled at the beginning of it?
2016 was a very busy year for Anchor Group, but now, as it draws to an end, we can state that we have accomplished everything we set out to do in the beginning. We have completed the complex renovation and reconfiguration process of Bucuresti Mall and Plaza Romania, while keeping both locations functional. This was a premiere for the Romanian market, yet it was not the only premiere for Anchor Group in 2016. This process also meant the first conversion of a retail space into an office space from where Plaza Romania Offices was created. This office building was launched by the end of August and it already has 40% occupancy rate. In addition to these achievements I would also highlight one in the residential sector: the completion of a new apartment building, block D, part of the residential compound InCity Residences. Therefore, 2016 isn’t only a year in which we achieved success, but one in which Anchor Group made history once more.
What could you tell us about the projects of modernizing Bucuresti Mall and Plaza Romania in terms of challenges, learned lessons, investments?
The most important thing we’ve learned is that when you undertake a project while insuring your tenants’ continuity as well as taking into account the customers’ needs and providing them with the products and services that they were accustomed to, that project cannot go wrong. The reconfiguration process, in which we invested more than 30 million euros, roughly divided evenly between Bucharest Mall and Plaza Romania. Our tenants, inspired by our changes and by the new design of the malls, followed suit and rearranged their spaces, bringing the latest store design. After the renovation, the occupancy rate went up to 95% in Plaza Romania and to 96% in Bucuresti Mall; we brought in exclusive brands and the traffic in both malls increased substantially. Moreover, we’ve already leased 40% of Plaza Romania Offices.
What are the development plans for the next year, even more since in 2017, Anchor Group will celebrate 20 years of activity in Romania?
So far, our prognosis indicates that the real estate sector is on an ascending slope, whether it is retail, office or residential. This year, we have invested in all three sectors, the latest being Plaza Romania Offices. Furthermore, for 2017, we are envisioning a new project in the residential sector, which should be located in the proximity of our existing compound – InCity Residences. This is currently being planned and the next step would be deciding on the implementation companies we will develop it with. As soon as all these are settled, we will provide more details about this new project.
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It is no exaggeration to say that Anchor Group has been a kind of trend setter with the first Mall built on this market and also with some residential projects. How would you assess the experience of these 20 years of activity in Romania?
The fact that, even after so many years since our entrance on the Romanian market, we still make history here shows what a positive experience this has been, one that made us strive to deliver better services to our clients. Back when we inaugurated Bucuresti Mall, we were alone on this market. We didn’t have any competition, so our way was the only way of doing business. Once the market opened, we challenged ourselves to be the best for our clients. Many years later, our portfolio – made up of businesses in the retail, residential and office building sectors – confirms that we are one of the most notable players in real estate.
What is the total investment made so far in Romania? And what’s next?
Anchor Group has invested over 350 million euros in the projects we developed in Romania. We intend to keep on investing as we are dealing with a mature and sophisticated market, with an accelerated growth that puts Romania ahead of all the other countries in the region. The demands of our tenants and clients become more and more refined and we’re committed to continue to cater to them and even surprise them with the quality of our services and products.
How has the real estate market in Romania evolved in this lapse of time since Anchor Group’s arrival here?
It has changed a great deal over these years, but even then there were signs that indicated such a swift progress. Our advantage has always been an in-depth knowledge of this market. For instance, we anticipated the ascending trend insofar as office buildings were concerned: in 2016 there was an increase of 500% in office spaces as compared to the previous year. Therefore, we invested in Plaza Romania Offices, being the first player to do an office space within a mall, creating benefits for our tenants’ employees. The access they have to all the products, facilities and services Plaza Romania has to offer, gives us a unique competitive advantage over any other office building in Bucharest; that is important in the context in which, nowadays, most companies choose office spaces with medium rent and they seem to lose interest in buildings with lower rent.
How does Anchor Group intend to take advantage of the current potential of the real estate market in Romania?
Just as we did so far. We always do our research, we are in tune with our clients’ needs, demands and tastes, we anticipate trends and we add a little extra to what we think our audience might want. Right now, we know that our customers do not want only a simple office space, an apartment or a retail area. Those who want an office space want benefits, flexibility in the customization of that space and several extra options. Those who want an apartment also need a sense of community, access to competitive services and facilities and an environment where they can make a home for themselves. Those who want a retail space want one that is up to date, hip and trendy, ready to accommodate their customers, but also inviting in new customers and able to highlight their products.