2000 – 2013

Internationalization

In 2000, Alexander Otto, son of the company's founder Werner Otto, succeeded Dr. Heinrich Kraft, who had managed the company since 1974, as Chairman of the ECE Management Board. Under Alexander Otto's direction, ECE's systematic internationalization started. Today, ECE operates approx. 200 shopping centers in 12 countries.

Alexander Otto joined ECE as new employee in 1994. After studying in Harvard and taking his first career steps as a financial analyst and director of financial planning in New York, Alexander Otto joined ECE and became project manager for the development of Schlosspark-Center in Schwerin. After joining the ECE Management Board, Otto moved to the Leasing division, where he was responsible for developing retail concepts as well as the leasing strategies for office and commercial premises. He was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Management Board in October 1998 under Chairman Dr. Heinrich Kraft, who he succeeded at the helm of the company on July 1, 2000.

Under the leadership of Alexander Otto, became European shopping center market leader in the course of the years. The center portfolio by now comprises #{0001} shopping galleries – 47 of them are located outside of Germany.

With numerous subsidiaries, joint ventures and local companies, ECE is now active in 12 countries. Back in 1996/97, the company started its internationalization on Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. The first ECE center outside of Germany, "Galeria Dominskańska" in the Polish city of Wroclaw opened on August 17, 2001. Further ECE-developed shopping galleries in Poland opened in Lodz (2002), Cracow (2006), Gdansk (2007), Szczecin (2011), and Bydgoszcz (2015).

Alexander Otto when taking over the chair of the ECE management board on July 01, 2000.
Alexander Otto when taking over the chair of the ECE management board on July 01, 2000.

In Hungary, ECE started with the shopping gallery Arkad Budapest in 2002. ECE realized further centers in Hungary in Pécs (2002), Győr (2007), Debrecen (2008) and Szeged (2011). In the Czech Republic, "Galerie Vaňkovka" made a start in Brno in spring 2005. Followed by Arkády Pankrác in Prague in 2008.

Since 2000, ECE has been active very successfully in Turkey. In 2007, they opened their first self-designed Turkish center, Espark in Eskişehir. With Marmara Park in Istanbul another ECE-development was opened in 2012 – with an overall rental space of 100,000 m², Marmara Park is one of the largest shopping malls in Turkey.

Other ECE-developed centers outside Germany are City-Arkaden in the Austrian city Klagenfurt (2006) and Adigeo in Verona, Italy (2017). Furthermore and among others, ECE manages centers in Moscow (Russia), Vilnius (Lithuania), Chieti (Italy), Innsbruck and Linz (Austria), Brno (Czech Republic), Bratislava (Slovakia), Doha (Qatar), and Odense (Denmark).

ECE is owned by the Otto family and is thus a sister company of the Otto Group – the largest mail-order group worldwide. Thanks to further sister companies, they have best overseas connections: The Paramount Group in New York manages real estate on the US east coast. The Park Property real estate group in Toronto / Canada is mainly specialized in apartments and commercial premises.