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Capital Markets

Shopping malls offer Greece bags of potential

The Greek property sector is growing thanks to a surge in retail development. Concurrent capital markets’ liberalisation has allowed investors and developers greater access to the equity and debt markets. Phil Moore reports.

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Until recently, Greece remained the final stronghold for the traditional corner shop in the European Union. That all changed in November 2005, when the country fell into line with the rest of the EU and opened its first big shopping complex.

The Mall Athens, a 58,500-metre square retail centre initiated by Lamda Development, offers Greek shoppers access to more than 200 shops, 25 restaurants and 15 cinemas, and has clearly captured the imagination of the public as well as developers and investors. The vast improvements made to transportation infrastructure in advance of the 2004 Olympic Games, twinned with rising personal disposable income levels buttressed by a robust economy, has led to a surge in rental levels as supply of prime retail space struggles to keep pace with demand. The latest market review published by Colliers International says: "Demand for high street retail space in major cities and primary areas remains strong, as vacancy rates are close to 0%."

Developers are responding to this imbalance with gusto. In the Attica region alone (where 95% of the population is concentrated in metropolitan Athens), 10 new shopping centres are due to open by the end of 2010.

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