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Dockx Bruxsel: success, challenges and for sale

The first major new shopping centre to have come into existence in Brussels for many years – Dockx Bruxsel – has celebrated its first anniversary by commissioning a study on its success and perception, and by revealing visitor numbers. Developers Aquilis and real estate broker JLL mandated GfK with this survey among visitors and residents of the catchment area.

The first finding, from the on-site measurement rather than the survey, is that 5 million visitors came to the centre in the first year. As Equilis CEO Nadia Vrancken pointed out, from a standing start and on a previously unoccupied site, this has to be considered a very successful result. She expects to move up to 6.5 million within a year or two.

The concept behind the centre was to respond to the new demands of shoppers, especially families and millennials, who are looking for space, light and a new experience. On this topic, Helga Cosyns of JLL retail said that Docks Bruxsel sets a new standard for the new generation, and makes a break with the traditional shopping centres to be found in Brussels. This is achieved by the feeling of space, the inside and outside layout and the wide, welcoming access points. She also pointed out that the millennials whom the centre is attracting will define the retail landscape of tomorrow.

The survey’s findings bear out the developers’ views. Among reasons why vistors would come back again are the enjoyable setting, next generation shopping centre feel, premium experience and security. A further reason for visiting is the excellent accessibility. For those coming by car, the underground (and therefore covered) car park is a clear advantage pointed out by Nadia Vrancken. Very importantly in these days of soft mobility, however, are the two tram stops, one outside the front entrance and one outside the rear, both named ‘Dockx Bruxsel.

Nadia Vrancken was realistic enough to point out the future challenges. She said that these include building more brand awareness, promoting the accessibility, increasing weekday footfall, and staying different.

Nadia Vrancken concluded by confirming that Equilis would not be keeping the centre in its portfolio over the long term, but would sell it in the medium term. This is simply because the core business of the company is in real estate development, not in owning shopping centres.

| 17/10/2017

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