The Wilhelm & Co Group announces that it has entered into a partnership with a fund managed by CBRE Global Investors on the basis of which the latter will hold a majority participation in the shopping centre Médiacité located in Liège. The companies Gesmall and Gespark (50% Mypark group), part of the Wilhelm & Co Group, maintain the management of the shopping centre and the car parks.
As a reminder
The shopping centre Médiacité, designed and realised by the Wilhelm & Co Group, opened in October 2009. It consists of 41.500m² GLA (leasable space) and contains 114 brands, numerous bars and restaurants, as well as an Olympic skating rink (built by the City of Liège). Next to the shopping centre, the Médiacité site is host to the largest production studio for entertainment programmes of the RTBF, where iconic broadcasts such as “The Voice” or the evening of “Cap48” are produced.
Médiacité is born out of a bold gamble: to create the allure of a shopping and leisure centre through the innovative character of the building’s architecture as well as through the quality of the available brands. Even before the building was finished, Médiacité – combining architectural creativity with high-level technological advancement – had the honour of being exhibited in the largest museums in the world. The architectural model was shown in the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and the Barbican Centre in London within the framework of exhibitions devoted to the building’s creator, architect-designer Ron Arad.
After this recognition from the cultural sector, the most prestigious professional awards followed: one of the 5 « World’s Best of the Best Nomination » awarded by the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) in 2012, after already having obtained the award for best European shopping centre in its category from ICSC Europe in 2011, as well as several other awards (BLSC, RLI, etc).
Médiacité has also made a name for itself as pioneer on an environmental level: by having the building obtain the certificate for the BREEAM RETAIL standard, Wilhelm & Co Group has introduced the use of the BREEAM standard in Belgium (first building constructed under this standard) and the use of the BREEAM RETAIL standard in Europe (first European certificate under this standard).
Lastly, Médiacité also exemplifies a perfect collaboration between a private entity and a municipality. The Wilhelm & Co Group would never have been able to realise this ambitious project without the attention, support and speed of decision and action of the authorities of the City of Liège. The Wilhelm & Co Group is infinitely grateful for this.
An undeniable commercial success
Since its opening in October 2009, Médiacité has received more than 50 million visitors and is reaching a catchment area that by far exceeds all expectations. The reason for this success: a “radically different” shopping centre seduced brands which, at the peak of the financial crisis (Médiacité opened its doors in 2009) dared to establish themselves with conviction. Leading the way for the other brands is the first and still by far the largest Primark in Belgium, attracting visitors within a range of more than 120 km, placing Primark Médiacité among the European top of the brand.
After 7 years of exploitation, Médiacité has reached cruising speed and placed itself amongst the top 3 of the most visited shopping centres in Belgium. The leading tenants of the centre have opened important extensions of their stores this year: Primark +60% and H&M +50%. Moreover, the most important sought-after brands which are not yet present in Médiacité, have been announced for 2017.
Thousands of jobs created
Last but not least, the Wilhelm & Co Group is proud to have created 1200 jobs directly and as many jobs indirectly in Liège.
The moment to transfer the majority in the property
Completely in line with its pioneer’s strategy to develop large unusual projects independently until they are up to speed, the moment for Wilhelm & Co came to transfer the majority of the property to a partner that shares the same vision. As has been largely demonstrated in the press, the identification of this partner was not an easy task.
The transaction with CBRE Global Investors – a partner with the ideal profile – thus constitutes for the Wilhelm & Co Group the culmination of a strategy imposed against all odds. CBRE Global Investors is an expert in the field of Belgian commercial centres. Until recently, one of its funds held one of the most prestigious portfolios in the sector. During the negotiations, the new partners got to know each other and recognised the complementarity of their mutual competences.
Finally, from the moment Médiacité starts this new stage in its existence, the Wilhelm & Co teams see themselves rewarded yet again for their work through recognition with an extraordinary symbolic value for a real estate promoter. In the framework of its series « Architectures », devoted to the most striking architectural developments in the world, the TV station ARTE has recently finalised a film on Médiacité. Each film analyses a building selected on the basis of its exemplary aspects, the milestone role it has played or still plays in the history of architecture.
At the moment the transaction was closed, Peter Wilhelm, CEO of Wilhelm & Co declared:
“ We are delighted to enter into a partnership with CBRE Global Investors with respect to a leading asset in which our teams have heavily invested for the past 10 years. The identification of an ideal majority partner was far from easy. CBRE Global Investors is a recognised major player in the sector of commercial centres in Belgium.
The way they, within a timeframe of a few years, established a portfolio including some of the most important commercial centres of the country, before disposing them, has aroused everyone’s admiration.
We are delighted, for our group, our teams, but also for all the loyal customers and the retailers of Médiacité, with the arrival of a very experienced and competent majority partner with whom we share the same strategic visions and who grants us her confidence so that our companies Gesmall and Gespark (50% of the Mypark Group), can continue to manage the commercial centre and the car parks of Médiacité. “