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City 2 prepared for the future

Bright and open shop fronts, a new friendly food hall with inviting access stairs, and a brand new logo device.
Bright and open shop fronts, a new friendly food hall with inviting access stairs, and a brand new logo device.

As the international retail fair Mapic approaches, with its focus on the fundamental changes affecting the entire retail scene, it is appropriate to take a look at how one of Belgium’s best known (and oldest) shopping centres is preparing for the future.

The stakes, all of the professionals agree, is to provide ‘experiences’ for shoppers, not merely a place to spend an hour or two in order to buy a few clothes. And in particular, everyone agrees, the place of food halls is becoming fundamental, not ancillary.

Owners AG Real Estate have just completed a two year renovation of City 2, located in the heart of the capital on the Rue Neuve. Quoted by L’Echo, Serge Fautré, CEO of AG Real Estate, states: “With the renovation of our retail assets in the centre of Brussels, we have anticipated new urban requirements, the diversity of the population and the search for innovation by bringing new retailers into our city”.

In practice, what does the new City 2 feel like when you walk in? Firstly, the new black and white logo is crisp, and the candy-stick device is welcoming. Signage is in an informal script, creating a feeling of authenticity and friendliness. An extremely bright atmosphere, accentuated by the large glass roof and the white walls is a first impression. The old ‘kiosks’ have been removed, making the passageways wider and cleaner, and a number of open seating areas have been installed. The stores mostly have wide openings onto the circulation areas, sometimes the whole of the façade. Access to the adjacent Inno department store is more seamless, making it appear – especially on the upper level – as if Inno is part of the centre.

Now on to innovation. There are large QR codes to be scanned by smartphone, giving access to the ‘Smile City 2’ app which handles client advantages on offer. Another QR code gives the possibility of remote shopping and home delivery.
Tim Harrup

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