Leading international retailers Zara and Carrefour will start serving Macedonian customers for the first time thanks to a brand new, EBRD-financed shopping and entertainment mall that officially opened in Skopje on Wednesday 3 October.
Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski attended the opening ceremony for Skopje City Mall, where stores run by the Spanish fashion giant and the French hypermarket chain will be among some 130 shops. The mall will also include a multiscreen cinema operated by Austrian movie theatre company Cineplexx.
Prime Minister Gruevski said: “I would like to thank EBRD, who saw the importance and the benefits of this investment project and provided substantial support for its realisation. Our country is really growing into one of Europe’s centres for investment and development and many companies are interested in investing their capital in the Macedonian economy.”
As well as attracting major international brands to the Macedonian market for the first time and creating some 2,000 jobs, Skopje City Mall is notable for its use of advanced energy efficient technologies that will limit its carbon footprint.
Last year, the EBRD provided a €18.9 million loan to help finance the development, construction and operation of the mall. It extended the loan to Balfin Finance B.V., a holding company jointly owned by Albanian commercial real estate developer Balfin and Macedonian fashion retailer Fashion Group. Balfin Finance B.V. owns the project developer, Balfin MK d.o.o.
“This is the EBRD’s first investment in the emerging Macedonian property and retail sector,” Claudia Pendred, EBRD Director for Property and Tourism, said at the opening ceremony. “We are pleased to have supported this important project for Skopje at a time when commercial debt financing remains limited and to have encouraged higher energy efficiency standards in the Macedonian retail sector.”
“Balfin MK is delighted and honoured that financial support has been provided by the EBRD together with Raiffeisen Bank and Komercijalna Banka. The EBRD’s support and close collaboration confirm the unique opportunity that Skopje City Mall presents in a dramatically undersupplied market,” said Ivaylo Ivanov, Shopping Mall Manager of Skopje City Mall.
“This state-of-the-art €70 million shopping mall is a new landmark which paves the way for future internal and overseas investment and promotes confidence in the future of the Macedonian economy,” Mr Ivanov added.
Located three kilometres west of Skopje city centre with convenient transport links, Skopje City Mall is the first shopping and entertainment centre of its size and quality in the Macedonian capital and in the country.
With a total area of 86,000 square metres, Skopje City Mall will comprise some 130 shop units on three levels anchored by a 4,600 square metre Carrefour hypermarket and a multi-storey and underground car park with around 1,200 parking spaces.
As well as Carrefour, Cineplexx and Inditex – which will operate stores under the Zara brand and several other of its labels – the mall will feature retailers such as German fashion chain New Yorker and electronics specialist Neptun.
The shopping centre was built using advanced energy efficiency technologies, including improved levels of thermal insulation, energy-saving lighting, high efficiency heat recovery and an integrated building management system. These advanced technologies will enable the retail centre to cut its carbon footprint by 27 per cent compared with current construction standards in the country.
To date the EBRD has invested over €1 billion in about 80 projects in the Macedonian economy. It is particularly active in the agribusiness, transport, power and energy and financial sectors in the country and strongly supports the development of private enterprise.