For NEPI Rockcastle, summer has never been a holiday. The retail sector is one that operates continuously and is available to consumers regardless of the season. Indeed, the summer of 2020 was a real challenge for shopping malls because we needed to readjust all the shopping events and campaigns that a mall conducts in the summer, both on the terraces and inside the shopping mall, given that it was the period immediately following the lockdown. Then followed a wave of easing measures in mid-June, but even in this context, we can not talk about a holiday in the true sense of the word for the retail segment.
Last year, we developed a series of actions designed to provide our customers with a safe experience, but also to help tenants maximize their sales. The element that underlies this strategy is safety and for this we have developed a series of measures with the role of protection and to ensure the disinfection of the spaces, so that the mall remains a safe place. Thus, in order to stimulate sales, we replaced the events and actions that favored the agglomerations with several discount campaigns, together with our tenants, but also campaigns to reward customers who reach a certain threshold of purchases. In addition to actions to support commercial activity, we have taken an active role and paid special attention to the communities in which we operate, by supporting social initiatives.
We remind you that last year, in July, in a difficult period, marked by the effects of the pandemic, NEPI Rockcastle announced the first mall opened in 2020 – Shopping City Târgu Mureș, the result of an investment of 70 million euros.
Shopping malls are a place of relaxation for consumers, a space where they can enjoy their free time, with friends and family, throughout the year. Now that summer has come, this year, we are preparing to offer complete experiences to our visitors who choose to spend their free time in the malls in Bucharest and in the country. Moreover, now that cinemas are receiving visitors again, restaurants are open both indoors and outdoors, according to the regulations of the authorities, we have a number of entertainment options for all categories of audiences.
For example, between June and July, in Promenada Mall Bucharest, we have a series of thematic workshops with access based on prior registration, on various topics such as: cooking, fashion, lifestyle or beauty. Moreover, during this period, most of the shopping centers in our portfolio offer football fans and enthusiasts the live viewing of the most awaited football matches on screens and specially arranged spaces. On this occasion, we also implemented a series of thematic actions and promotional campaigns.
Also related to the holidays, at Shopping City Timișoara we inaugurated, for the first time, 4 paddle courts, the sport-show that gained a great notoriety in Romania as well.
All these actions and campaigns are organized to offer visitors a complete experience when they choose to spend their free time at the mall, respecting all the rules of health safety and social distance.
I started this summer with very good statistics. The number of COVID-19 cases is declining, the vaccination program is expanding and we are proud that through the 12 drive-thru vaccination centers or in our malls we can also support local authorities; measures were relaxed, restaurants, terraces, cinemas reopened. This return to pre-pandemic habits gives us hope for certainty and predictability in the market in general and in our area of activity in particular.
We hope things continue in this direction. We will focus on providing our consumers and visitors with a safe space for shopping and 360-degree experiences. Moreover, in the last period, but also in the following months, we plan to open new commercial spaces or to rearrange and modernize some areas inside the shopping centers.
At the moment, our forecasts for this summer are optimistic. Indeed, a concern may arise in late summer if we talk about a new wave of pandemic that could have a negative impact on our work and that of our partners.
The only certainty we have now is that, no matter what happens, we are prepared to deal with such situations. This pandemic has shown us that we can adapt on the fly and have a strong position in the market.
This year we plan to modernize shopping centers and invest in protection solutions for the safety of our visitors. In parallel, we started the development of residential projects in the areas adjacent to shopping centers in Bucharest, Timisoara, Brasov, Craiova, Ramnicu Valcea and Satu Mare.
We focus on the needs of local communities and we want to create near the malls modern quality and sustainable projects that future owners aspire to. Moreover, we plan to accelerate the digitization process and omnichannel initiatives by rethinking and repositioning the company in terms of experience offered to tenants and customers.
Our main goal, both for 2021 and 2022, is to remain relevant to the end customer, offering comfort, safety, diversity and entertainment, while maintaining the leading position in the retail real estate market.
We are also open to new investment opportunities. NEPI Rockcastle is in a strong financial position and remains a leader in CEE in terms of retail and expansion.
I will spend my summer vacation both in Romania, my favorites being mountain hiking, but also in other European countries.