The new centre in Opava is now well established03.03.2014
The Breda & Weinstein Shopping Centre celebrated its first anniversary in November. The predictions of the sceptics have not materialized and the centre is booming. Radim Bajgar, partner of Mint Investments, makes no secret of the fact that he is delighted with the results.
What do you see when you look back?
If I look back to the very beginning, it was a five extremely intense but very happy years of my life. We created something meaningful that was truly for the people. Even now, we try to support the community. Before the construction, we were a generous sponsor of Opava basketball and then we began to sponsor children’s language education and a foster care project called “Good Family”.
Children are our future; we must invest in them and help those who were not so lucky from their birth, like the rest of us. We invested about 1.4 billion CZK, created approximately 400 new jobs and Opava got, instead of a devastated brewery, a beautiful building that is here to stay. We have successfully incorporated the architecture of the old city brewery into a modern construction, which won five prestigious architectural awards last year. No other commercial property has won so many awards in the last 25 years. At the same time, the first year of operation has been very encouraging, and not just for me personally. The number of visitors is steadily growing and people like to come back.
Many predicted that the interest would die out as fast as it started.
They were wrong. I am always sincerely sorry when people are negative, reject improvements and oppose new things. If we were all like this, our society would not work, it would not develop. Of course, not everything always works out, but our policy is to do things 100% with a positive attitude and in good faith. Do people prefer metal boxes in city suburbs that everyone has to drive to, or an airy timeless interior with the beautiful architectural features of a brewery complemented with art by local patriot Kurt Gebauer, which can be easily reached on foot or by public transport? After the first year, we can see that we were not mistaken with this.
The complex is 92% occupied and this year, we would like to bring in the remaining tenants in the form of small shops and services, such as florists, pet shops, travel agencies, stationery, specialty stores with children goods, cheese shops, shops with delicatessens and more fashion and gastronomy. Breda & Weinstein will be 100% full by the end of this year. Despite a long delay, a mini brewery and restaurant also opened in Breda. Our tenant was struggling with numerous technical problems, but eventually everything turned out well. The owner is apparently preparing a special Olympic beer for the Winter Olympic Games.
By the looks of it, you seem to have enough visitors.
I am not complaining. More than 15,000 people visited every day over the Christmas period and on busy days the number reached 25,000. We erected a very nice Christmas tree for our visitors, which will no doubt be even nicer and bigger next year. The entrance was lined with Christmas stalls, including sales of live carp and Christmas trees. Since the New Year, between 11,000 and 15,000 people have visited the centre each day, which is also good news. Our catchment area starts at Jeseník and ends at Hlučín; we are not solely dependant on Opava, as the total catchment area includes about 300,000 inhabitants. We have also learned that the people of Opava like to visit the cinema and CineStar seems happy with the number of visitors. In addition, we also focus on children, as I mentioned earlier.
Three times a week, we organize quality children’s English courses for free, as we try to provide language teaching to replace that available at Czech grammar schools, which with a few exceptions, is not of a particularly high quality. We cooperate with the Silesian Theatre whose actors perform a fairy tale for children each week and we also hold children’s creative workshops once a week.
We cooperate with many sports organizations in the city. Children learn in-line skating in our underground garages in the winter. I would also like to take the opportunity to appeal to people regarding the foster care project that is supported through the “Good Family” project located on the 1stfloor of the centre. If it is out of the question to foster a child then I am sure almost every one of us can symbolically contribute towards this programme that makes such a positive contribution to our society.
You previously considered connecting the New Breda centre with the original department store. Is this still on the table?
No, probably not. We tried twice and were very close to signing a contract but it fell through each time. Never say never, but given the poor technical condition and the legislative situation regarding the original Breda, I cannot see it happening in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, the new Breda is technically and in terms of blueprints, ready for this step.
Your “masterpiece” is of course, the arrival of the Czech Post Office.
I think so. The negotiations took three years and the Czech Post Office was seriously interested from the very beginning, but their financial projections were a long way away from ours. What in fact happened with their move to Breda was that they followed their clients, who were offered free parking and an attractive and technically perfect environment. The parking had represented the biggest obstacle for them in the past, but it is now resolved. We discussed the strategy of the Czech Post Office with their representatives many times. The type of services offered has significantly changed in the last twenty years and so have their requirements for location and technology. Director Janowská spoke about this during the opening ceremony. The New Breda has fulfilled all these requirements.
The present looks very encouraging. Was it difficult to get to this point?
If we don’t dwell on the preparation stage of the development, then the first year of operation was also not exactly a bed of roses. The first three months we had to deal with various shortcomings and problems that arose unexpectedly. As soon as we removed one problem, we had to face another, but that’s how it goes. After opening, we had to deal with the heating and the building’s smart management system which at the beginning seemed not so smart; in summer we had to sort out the screening and air-conditioning and the roof was leaking in many places; however it was also sorted and fine tuned by autumn. We have started this year completely satisfied. The customers love us and we love them. I do not want to sound too pathetic, but we are prepared to fulfil their first and last wishes.