SHARE
COPY LINK

SHOPPING

Malmö braces for Scandinavia’s largest shopping mall

A mall billed as one of Europe’s most spectacular shopping centres is under construction in Malmö, but questions remain as to whether the city can handle the massive expansion in retail space, The Local's Karen Holst discovers.

Malmö braces for Scandinavia's largest shopping mall

Coined as Europe’s most spectacular and Scandinavia’s largest shopping centre, the southern based mega-mall Emporia promises to deliver a shopping experience well-beyond the normal.

Following a delay, Emporia is now slated to open October 2012 rather than 2011.

The gigantic three-story shopping centre is more than three times the size of neighbouring Malmö Arena and occupies a total of 93,000 square metres.

Emporia’s developers set their focus on creating more of a shopping sanctuary, or as they say a space to rejuvenate, gather inspiration, and seek refuge from the fast-paced world while shopping, eating and hanging out, according to the super- mall’s sole developers Steen & Ström, a Scandinavian company that owns, operates and develops shopping centres throughout Scandinavia.

“The architecture combined with the service level is unique in Scandinavia and even to some extent in Europe. Add to that five art projects incorporated in the building, a roof top park and a suberb location in terms of public transportation,” says Jonatan Carlring, Emporia’s Development Manager from Steen & Ström.

The birth of Emporia began about five years ago with the land purchase in 2006. It has since evolved from a vast, open field and soon into Scandinavia’s largest shopping mall with the aim of offering an unmatched shopping, dining and entertainment experience.

Visitors will discover at least 200 stores, more than 20 restaurants and cafes, a rooftop park, two indoor playgrounds, several family rooms and plenty of lounge areas.

The design by itself is a remarkable feat.

The glamorous exterior flaunts two stunning and colourful main entrances made entirely of curved glass. One grand entrance is inspired by the semi-precious Amber stone and will be orange glass, the other influenced by the near-by sea and offering a mix of blues.

“It’s a very special entrance because the glass is double curved which means each piece is individually designed and cut,” explains Carlring.

The roof struts another spectacular yet sustainable environment that will be converted entirely into green space, about the size of four football fields.

Made from a low-maintenance material called sedum, the green roof will help alleviate flooding, reduce noise, add a layer of thermal insulation and possibly even help compensate for the loss of green surface by providing an environment to re-inhabit for wildlife, such as birds, plants and insects.

“It will be a kind of park on the top of the building with walkways and viewpoints of both Denmark and Malmö,” Carlring describes.

The inside world of Emporia unfolds into three levels, composed of shopping corridors and anchored by six distinct, open squares taken from the piazza concept of Rome’s bustling streets.

Each square offers a separate lounging experience and a unique, open area where elevators and escalators can be used when traversing the mall.

For example, the Sea Square is naturally connected to the Sea Entrance and it is designed to be a completely open sky dome that reaches up to the top level.

“There also will be a waterfall in the Sea Square that runs the height of the building on each side of the lift and drops into a small pool,” Carlring adds.

Flower Square boasts a spiral staircase, jungle vines, scores of flowers and green glass to evoke a garden oasis.

The remaining squares take on colour identities, such as Amber Square, Pink Square and Purple Square.

Shoppers looking to snap open their wallets will meet some of the usual and expected chain stores such as H&M, Lindex, Kappahl, GinaTricot and Stadium, to name a few, as well as smaller, more exclusive brands.

“There will be retail surprises,” Carlring adds. “But nothing we can communicate just yet.”

Other major firms signed on thus far include ICA, Willy’s, JC, Intersport and Clas Ohlson to name a few. Two of the most recent confirmed clothing chains are G Star and The Sequal with several additional major tenants in the final stages of negotiations.

With only between 65 and 70 percent of the retail space leased and about 18 months to go before opening, Carlring isn’t worried.

“We are exactly where we expected to be at this point and fully expect to reach full capacity at the time of our opening,” he affirms.

To satisfy shoppers’ hunger-inducing credit-card frenzy, Emporia houses about 20 restaurants and cafes with more than 3,500 square metres dedicated to eating.

Food offerings range from simple, fast-food stops to fine dining atmospheres and have the capacity to serve more than 4,000 meals per day. Some of the restaurants will remain open longer than the shops to allow visitors a leisurely evening meal.

With a mind toward service, Carlring says the niceties Emporia offers will help separate it from other area shopping malls. This includes attractive perks such as valet parking, private lockers, and “shopping carts similar to those found in airports.”

The mega-mall also includes a colorful parking garage with 3,000 spots and will be easily accessible from the community by well-lit bicycle routes.

Emporia is housed in Hyllie, an emerging district just southeast of Malmö that promises to extend the feel of the city’s reach as well as significantly alter the local flatland skyline.

Emporia is part of the area’s new urban development plans, which is second only to Västra Hamnen in terms of sheer size and expenditure.

The plans include Malmö Arena, Emporia and a new train station as well as at least 7,000 new homes, 7,000 new jobs, hotels and offices.

“Hyllie is fast becoming a new part of Malmö and in the future it will be a well-developed living centre. With the infrastructure and new train station, it’s a good area to develop and perfect for our investment,” Carlring says.

The vast shopping mall is strategically constructed next to the City Tunnel’s new Hyllie Station, hoping to capitalize on the 37 million people who travel between Copenhagen and Malmö annually.

It is an easy 6-minute ride from Malmö Central Station, 12-minutes from Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport and 27 minutes from downtown Copenhagen.

Although Carlring is optimistic about the success of Emporia, the huge mall is within less than eight kilometres of at least seven other major shopping centres in the Malmö city area alone.

In addition, recent evaluations from last year demonstrate a significant drop in sales across Malmö’s retail shopping venues despite the economy’s upswing.

The city’s newest shopping centre, Entré, opened in 2009 and offers a bowling alley, fitness centre and cinema, and has been struck by three different bankruptcies in its short span. At least a dozen retail spaces sit empty at any given time, according to reports at the beginning of the year.

But people in Malmö’s retail business don’t seem concerned and agree with Carlring’s positive outlook toward the future by embarking on pricey projects.

Three major shopping centres, Mobilia, Triangeln and Caroli City, are currently undergoing expansion and renovation projects although each hosts several vacant retail spaces.

Market area manager for Mobilia, Anders Murmark, told Sydsvenskan, south Sweden’s daily newspaper, that analysts estimate every citizen in the area spends an average 50,000 kronor (about $8,000) a year, only half of which goes toward the staples of living such as groceries.

If Malmö’s population continues to rise at the expected 4,000-5,000 new inhabitants a year, Murmark claims that increase will amount to several billion kronor available in retail funds.

And Carlring’s projections aren’t conservative either.

“We don’t talk about the area’s purchasing power but we do estimate about 9 million customers a year with the first year’s turnover at about 2.5 billion kronor,” Carlring says.

As Emporia enters its final stages of construction, it has gained global attention of all those in the shopping centre business with a total investment estimated at about 4 billion kronor.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

SHOPPING

The unmanned supermarkets rescuing Sweden’s rural areas

One after another, grocery stores are shutting down in rural Sweden, leaving villagers to travel miles to buy food. But a new type of shop has sprung up in their wake: unmanned supermarkets in mobile containers.

The unmanned supermarkets rescuing Sweden's rural areas
Store manager Domenica Gerlach enters the Lifvs unmanned supermarket store in Veckholm, 80km outside Stockholm. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand /AFP

In Veckholm, a village of a few hundred people 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Stockholm, the last grocery store closed more than a decade ago. Then, a year-and-a-half ago, even the little convenience store at the only petrol station locked its doors.

Villagers were left with no choice but to travel a half-hour by car to the closest supermarket.

But in July 2020, an automated, unmanned grocery store came to town. In a container dropped in the middle of a field, open 24 hours a day, the 20-square-metre (215-square-foot) supermarket sells hundreds of items — and there’s no cashier in sight.

“Since a while back, there has been nothing in this area and I think most of us living here have really missed that,” said Giulia Ray, a beekeeper in
Veckholm. 

“It’s so convenient to have this in the area,” she told AFP, doing her own shopping and restocking the shop’s shelves with her honey at the same time.

Shoppers unlock the supermarket’s door with an app on their smartphone. “We come here three times a week and buy stuff we need,” Lucas Edman, a technician working in the region for a few weeks, told AFP. “It’s a little bit more expensive but it’s fine. It’s a price I can pay to not go to another store.”

He scanned his pizzas and soda on the app on his phone, which is linked to his bank account and a national identification system — an added anti-theft security, according to the store. And it’s all done under the watchful eye of a single security camera.

Keeping costs down

In Sweden, the number of grocery stores — everything from superstores to small convenience stores — has dropped from 7,169 in 1996 to 5,180 in 2020, according to official statistics.

While the number of superstores has almost tripled in 24 years, many rural shops have closed down, often due, like elsewhere in Europe, to a lack of
profitability.

Daniel Lundh, who co-founded the Lifvs, has opened almost 30 unmanned stores in rural Sweden and in urban areas with no shops in the past two years.

“To be able to keep low prices for the customer, we have to be able to control our operation costs. So that means controlling the rent — that’s why
the stores are quite small — but also controlling the staffing cost,” Lundh said.

He plans to open his first unstaffed supermarkets outside Sweden early next year.

Domenica Gerlach, who manages the Veckholm store, only comes by once a week to receive deliveries. She also manages three other shops, all of them mobile containers.

Peter Book, the mayor of Enkoping, the municipality to which Veckholm belongs, has only good things to say about the three container stores that
have opened in his patch. And he’d like to see more.

“It makes it easier to take a step to move there if you know you have this facility,” he said.

Meeting place and ‘salvation’

In Sweden, one of the most digitalised countries in the world, Lifvs, like its Swedish rivals AutoMat and 24Food which have also popped up in rural
areas, benefits from a very wired population.

In 2019, 92 percent of Swedes had a smartphone. Ironically, the unmanned shops — plopped down in the middle of nowhere — also play a role as a “meeting place” for locals.

“You come here, you get some gas and you go inside and get something, and maybe someone else is here and you can have a chat,” Ray said.
Mayor Book echoed the notion, saying the stores make it possible to connect society”.

The pandemic has also proven the stores’ usefulness, since no contact with other people inside the shop is necessary.

Because of Covid-19, only one person at a time is allowed inside the Veckholm store.

“My mother lives nearby as well and … this has been a shop she could actually enter during all this time. She hasn’t been (able to go) anywhere,”
Ray said of her 75-year-old mother. “This has been a salvation for her.”

SHOW COMMENTS