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With the Cano in Singen, ECE opens its last new shopping project for the time being. Nils Hoffmann, ECE Senior Leasing Manager, reveals in an interview which new store concepts the city of 50,000 inhabitants in the Lake Constance region can look forward to. Why the Swiss love to come across the border to shop and how Corona has made leasing difficult on the last few meters.


We have succeeded in bringing many new names to Singen - especially in the fashion sector. These include Tommy Hilfiger, Marc O'Polo, Gant, Guess, but also a modern sneaker supplier like Snipes. With Dean & David and "Hans im Glück" we have also acquired brands with format in the gastronomy sector. A strong focus is naturally again on local retailers. So this time we deliberately chose not to go for Douglas, but for the Gradmann perfumery, which is a real local big player. In addition to Snipes, we were able to win Comix for Cano, an exciting young sneaker concept. Alexander Heitz is a great supplier of bags and leather goods with an extremely high-quality and modern look. And with Pano, a very popular and successful café from the region presents itself in the center. In short: We were able to attract many attractive local and regional partners to the Cano and have created a perfect mix together with the internationally known brands.


Was it difficult to lure large chain stores to Singen?

We didn't need so many big ones here. H&M is already represented in the pedestrian zone - as are TK Maxx, C&A, New Yorker and Mango. Instead, we have created many new formats. For example, an Edeka, which had previously been much too small, was desperately looking for an extension. He now presents himself in a very valuable way at our Cano with a strong focus on the Swiss audience with its strong purchasing power. In other words, with a high-quality wine department, high-quality fresh meat and fish. The Drogerie Müller will also expand massively with a small department store on two floors. Another highlight as a major tenant is Decathlon - the only store far and wide in my view. It will be a huge draw and will work great. We have also brought another big cult to the center. And a very strong food competence.

What role do the Swiss visitors play?

The nearest border crossing at Tayngen is only a few kilometers away. For cross-border trade, this crossing is the second strongest after Basel. So proximity to Switzerland is highly decisive. Above all, however, Singen has a sensational centrality rating of just under 190, which is an insane figure! From Zurich it is only about 40 minutes by car.

Is it particularly attractive for the Swiss to shop here?

Generally speaking, the Swiss find it much cheaper to shop in Germany, especially clothing and especially perfume and drugstore items. Also food, high-quality meat and high-quality wines. Income in Switzerland is almost twice as high as in Germany. But not only the price is favorable for the Swiss. They also benefit significantly from tax refunds.


What else distinguishes Singen as a location?

There are many aspects. For one thing, from a developer's point of view: If we develop a project like this, we want to keep and manage it sustainably for the next 30 to 40 years. That means we look: Where is the best location in the city? We have undoubtedly found it in Singen. We are located directly opposite the train station, which is currently being completely redesigned. The new bus station is right outside the door. And the Cano is also easy to reach by car. Singen is the only city in the Lake Constance area with excellent freeway connections.

Another important location advantage: the city is home to many large employers, such as Maggi or Takeda, a large Japanese pharmaceutical group that is currently expanding. The aluminum and steel industry is based in Singen. There are also many suppliers and service providers. The Singen car mile is also legendary. So in short - Singen is the large industrial city in the region.

What impulses does the new Cano provide?

With the Cano Center, we have created an attractive marketplace in the city center. You can already see the initial impetus the shopping center has given the city. Not just the upgrading of the station forecourt or the pedestrian zone. The Cano will once again massively enhance the entire city and put it in a different light. The entire pedestrian zone will be redesigned and upgraded. New greenery, new stone pavements. Something is happening now. Of course there is always a bit of regional rivalry with constancy. Constance has charm and flair, old building structure and the location on the lake. Singen, on the other hand, can score points with its much better accessibility and has always been the big shopping city. 


What makes ECE attractive for tenants?

We offer a stable trading platform. That's more important than ever in these difficult times. We offer many synergies for trading partners. Our leasing management looks at which product ranges really fit together well, which product ranges harmonize. This is still not the case in retail or street locations. On the contrary: I hear again and again from brokers or owners that there are often immense disputes there. That's different with us: we make sure that we achieve a good mix of sectors within a shopping center. We have a well-run management team that helps and supports the tenants, for example, even in the current situation when official regulations are imposed. It is also important that we act as a unit externally. This means that if the customer decides to come to the city or to our center, he will receive the full range of services. That is also our strength.

What role does Corona currently play in the rental business?

There is of course a lot of uncertainty about how the Corona theme will develop. How sales and frequencies will develop. These are topics that cause a lot of uncertainty. On the other hand, our retail partners know that they have a solid basis with us. They know that we are a reliable and good partner. Which is what hit us earlier: Many companies have put a complete stop to expansion for this year and have not released any more budgets for new locations. That was indeed a tough struggle. We had to think of ways to achieve our goals together. That was much more challenging than in normal times. In the end, we are very happy to have won a family shoe store for the Cano with Görtz. The situation is different in the sneaker segment. Sales there are still exploding. You can see the trend reversal: Even wearing sneakers with a suit is now completely in line with the trend. Overall, the casual trend is on the rise, especially in times of home office.


What is your personal highlight at Cano rental?

I was actually most pleased when I succeeded in getting regional dealers, who were initially opponents of the center, enthusiastic about the Cano and also came to a conclusion with them. That was always a personal challenge for me. Chain stores tend to be driven by numbers and rationality. In contrast, you can only win over a regional retailer who knows the region like the back of his hand and has all the local connections and networks. For me, those were always the best deals and successes.

The Cano is the last new shopping center built by ECE for the time being. How do you feel about it personally?

On the one hand, a bit of melancholy and sadness. I've always loved to watch the projects grow like my own babies and develop them further. On the other hand, it's logical and comprehensible. It is simply the current market development. I believe there are many exciting fields for takeovers and revitalization in the future. In the coming years, we will also be faced with high-level challenges in the portfolio. One thing is certain: trade is change - this motto applies more than ever. It will always remain exciting in our job. You are constantly dynamic in the market and have to deal with the corresponding changes. And that will definitely not change.

Nils Hoffmann

Nils Hoffmann studied real estate economics and business administration. Since 2002 he has been working in the letting department at ECE. As a leasing manager, he was responsible for three different regional areas for a wide variety of portfolio properties, refurbishment and new construction projects. He is currently responsible for the LÖ office building in Lörrach as a new building and the Cano in Singen.


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