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More than 55 years of passion for real estate

HISTORY

Hardly any other company has had such a lasting influence on the history of shopping centers in Europe as ECE – but our company has also long been an established player in other asset classes, such as company headquarters, office buildings, logistics centers, hotels, and residential districts. Discover what has been driving us for over half a century. 


1965

Early days

Trouble-free construction and a focus on the company’s core business – this is what mail-order pioneer Werner Otto (1909–2011) always wanted when he was growing his “Otto-Versand” mail-order business in the 1950s and 1960s. But reality turned out to be quite different. Trouble plagued almost every one of his construction projects, so Werner Otto made a virtue of necessity and founded his own real estate company – ECE – in 1965. Through this company, Otto developed the first shopping centers in the traditional sense for the German market.

1974

CONSOLIDATION AND DIVERSIFICATION

We stopped our expansion just before the oil crisis of 1974/75 and used the pause in growth for extensive consolidation. The aim was to secure and optimize the existing shopping centers. In 1974, Dr. Heinrich Kraft assumed responsibility for this task as chairman of the ECE Management Board. Kraft completely reorganised the team and used the crisis to take over and complete high-rise developments in Frankfurt that had got into difficulties.

1984

NEW SHOPPING CENTERS IN URBAN AREAS

In the early 1980s, we returned our focus to the development and realization of shopping centers. While the first shopping centers were mainly built in the center of individual city districts, we now began to develop shopping centers in central urban areas – such as Löhr-Center in Koblenz.

1993

EXPANSION INTO THE NEWLY FORMED GERMAN STATES AND BERLIN

German reunification opened up completely new perspectives, including for us as a company. While the first developers built shopping centers on greenfield sites in the newly formed German states shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we pursued a long-term strategy with well-considered location concepts. This resulted in the construction of Potsdamer Platz Arkaden in Berlin, the Promenaden Hauptbahnhof Leipzig and the Altmarkt-Galerie in Dresden.

2000

INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION

In 2000, Alexander Otto, son of the company founder Werner Otto, took over as Chairman of the ECE Management Board. He gave the company an international orientation and developed ECE into the European shopping center market leader.  In addition, Alexander Otto acquired stakes in the largest Brazilian shopping center developer and operator Aliansce Sonae and the US shopping center REIT SITE Centers.

2006

SUCCESS IN ALL ASSET CLASSES

The growing activities in other asset classes were bundled in 2006 in the new management area "Office, Traffic, Industries" (now "Work & Live"). 
The portfolio includes large properties such as corporate headquarters, office buildings, industrial buildings, logistics centres, hotels and entire city districts. 
 

2009

START INTO THE HOTEL BUSINESS

With the development of hotel projects in Dresden's city centre and at the new Berlin airport, we entered a further asset class. We are now the third largest hotel developer in Germany. The Otto family also acquired Travel Charme Hotels in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in 2016 and took a stake in the Ruby Hotels in 2019. 

2010

EXPANSION OF RESIDENTIAL ACTIVITIES

Many shopping centres also have apartments. With the development of the Alstercampus and the Mitte Altona district in Hamburg, we separated our residential activities from the shopping business for the first time. In 2019, we ventured into the UK despite the brexite and started a project development in London, and in 2020 the Otto family acquired 2,100 apartments in Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. 

ECE Real Estate Partners, Fonds-Plattform

2011

FUND PLATFORM

The new company ECE Real Estate Partners successfully launched its first shopping center fund in 2011. Its subsidiary in Luxembourg has been a licensed Alternative Investment Fund Manager ("AIFM") since 2014. In the meantime, ECE Real Estate Partners manages real estate worth EUR 5 billion in several open-ended and closes-ended funds.

Digitalisierung, Digital Mall

2016

DIGITIZATION

As the retail sector becomes increasingly digital, the importance of omnichannel platforms is growing. This is why, as part of our digital strategy, we are the first shopping center operator to implement an online product search for goods available at our centers – the “Digital Mall.” Together with the online retailer OTTO, we are also creating a new, never-before-seen cross-channel connection between brick-and-mortar retail and e-commerce through our Connected Commerce concept.