ECE Retail Insights, November 2018

“We’re excited about what the future holds!”

Interview with Katrin von Soosten

In light of changing retail structures and consumer behavior, ECE is striking out in new directions. Katrin von Soosten is looking for innovative ideas and concepts. In an interview, she talks about new tenants and formats.

ECE intends to expand the focus of its leasing activities. What does that mean exactly?

Digitization has changed the world of shopping, and we at ECE are taking a close look at consumers’ changing demands. In the future, our shopping centers will have to offer more than just a shopping experience, which is why I’m looking for innovative ideas and concepts that go beyond traditional retail. The focus here is particularly on the leisure and entertainment sector, as these two industries are increasingly merging – and these real-life experiences with family and friends can’t be digitized. In addition, there are many exciting trends and concepts in other areas, such as health, mobility, or even pop-up formats.

Can you give us some examples of current projects?

The range of projects is very broad – from indoor playgrounds, escape rooms, and virtual reality games to attractions such as indoor skydiving or indoor surfing. In September, JUMP House opened at Waterfront in Bremen – the first trampoline park in a German shopping center. At MyZeil in Frankfurt, we launched “Foodtopia” – an entire floor dedicated to leisure and dining. And the same issues are key elements of the revitalization of Potsdamer Platz Arkaden in Berlin.

What are some challenges ECE is facing as a result of this new direction?

In order to create an attractive offering, we need to define an overarching strategy for each of our shopping centers with a customized mix of retail, dining, and entertainment options. In some cases, we have to adapt to completely different technical requirements – some of the concepts require very large spaces and ceiling heights, for example. In addition, we are extending our business into the evening hours and the weekend – with implications for our shopping centers’ opening hours, for example.

Why is this worth the effort?

We want to take a proactive approach to changing market conditions and consumer habits, not just looking at individual spaces, but at the shopping centers as a whole. We want to create places that are highly valued by our customers and that they associate with real emotions and experiences. We have already taken the first steps on this journey and are now systematically continuing down this path – so we’re excited about what the future holds!