Since 2015, when the first of 14 STOP SHOP retail parks, as many as there are currently in Serbia, was opened in Čačak, this brand has been setting trends on our market, both in the domain of services and in ecological construction standards. The series of positive changes initiated by this company in the industry continued under the new operator, the Czech corporation CPI Property Group, which in the last quarter of 2022 took over the shares of IMMOFINANZ and therefore the STOP SHOP brand. We talk about current projects and plans for further development with Maja Marić, Operations Manager for the Serbian market.
Stop Shop retail parks have become synonymous with a modern and ecological shopping experience. Part of that is the new solar power plant on the roof of the building in Poarevac. How important is this project to you?
The solar power plant, which was recently installed on the roof of the STOP SHOP in Poarevac, will soon start producing electricity and will meet most of our energy needs. The expected annual production of over 2,400 installed photovoltaic panels is 1,130.00 MWh of "clean" energy, which will save about 920 tons of carbon dioxide. How significant this shift is is shown by the fact that the same amount of CO2 is eliminated from the atmosphere by a forest of 26 hectares. With the independent production of electricity from renewable sources, we want to contribute to a more sustainable future and a cleaner environment for the citizens of Serbia, so in the coming period, all the rest of the STOP SHOP retail parks will also be covered with photovoltaic panels. Also, we are proud of the fact that, as of April 2021, all our facilities will be supplied exclusively with green energy from renewable sources based on a special contract with the Elektroprivreda Srbije. In addition, our STOP SHOP in Lazarevac is equipped with a wind generator and a photovoltaic public lighting system that provide cleaner energy from sustainable sources.
Urban forest within the STOP SHOP retail park in Lazarevac / Photo: CPI Property Group
All 14 Stop Shop retail parks carry the BREEAM certificate, and the company is also a member of the Green Building Council of Serbia. How do you integrate green standards and sustainable practices into your operations?
We have a dedicated team working on it with the goal of our facilities having a minimal ecological footprint. BREEAM and other green certificates are proof that we have succeeded in this. Measurements of key indicators, such as energy consumption, water consumption, waste management, and carbon dioxide emissions, help us monitor the environmental impact of our projects and identify areas for improvement. The general impression is that we have already positioned ourselves as pioneers of sustainable transformation and that many of our solutions serve as an example for other companies on the market.
Thus, STOP SHOP is the first brand on the Serbian market in the retail segment to cover the entire portfolio with chargers for electric vehicles. This is our way to contribute to the development of electromobility and the reduction of harmful emissions in traffic. In addition, our visitors can take a break from shopping on smart solar benches with mobile phone chargers, a free Wi-Fi internet connection, and weather and air quality data. We are especially proud of the urban forests that grow within the STOP SHOP retail parks in Lazarevac, Vršac, Subotica, and Sremska Mitrovica, which work to preserve biodiversity and air quality. We are planning similar ventures in other locations with the aim of further enhancing services and promoting green trends in our environment.
What is the secret of the success of retail parks at a time when customers are moving massively to the online space?
This format of spending free time has numerous advantages that are highly valued by our visitors. With an unparalleled shopping experience for all senses, STOP SHOP parks offer a wide range of products and services with a favorable price-quality ratio. It is a space for entertainment for the whole family, and our facilities also have a significant social dimension. It is also a big advantage that STOP SHOP parks are easy to reach since they are concentrated in smaller cities, with spacious parking, green surroundings, and space for walking under the open sky. Our climate sees such practices as permanent, which is why we strive every day to improve the services and ambience of retail parks, and that is where our leadership position on the market comes from.
How will STOP SHOP centers develop further?
With new investments in the field of sustainability, we continue to invest in further development and expansion. For 2024, the plan is to build the second phase of STOP SHOP Smederevo as well as the second phase of STOP SHOP Subotica. In both cases, we are talking about additional retail space on areas of 5,000 to 6,000 square meters with a new mix of domestic tenants and global brands. What is particularly important to us in this regard is that, in the future, we will also use recycled materials in construction projects. Our goal is to expand services towards a clean and sustainable future in order to provide consumers with more innovative content throughout the entire shopping experience. In the coming period, we will continue to look for opportunities for new investments, nurturing the epithet of one of our favorite destinations on the retail map of our country.
By: Jovana Nikolić
Photo: CPI Property Group