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3 июля 2023г
Balance of functions. Retail in the historical center
  • Timur Baimullin
    Head of Regional Government Relations
    Regional Government Relations, X5 Group
  • Alexey Elaev
    Deputy General Director,
    "Spar Kaliningrad"
  • Zhanna Belitskaya
    Chief Artist of Kazan.
    Deputy Head of Architecture and Urban Planning Department of Kazan - Head of Urban Design Department
  • Renar Bikkulov
    Development Manager of the Fasol franchise network
  • Albert Ibatullin
    Network Development Department Head of PVZ KazanExpress
  • Vladimir Suntsov
    Head of the Kirov Region Center for the Electronic Commerce Development
  • Grigory Lutenko
    Deputy Director for Development of the Galamart Trade Center
  • Natalia Marova Project Manager
  • Maria Yashenkova
    CEO of Bright Consulting
Hot discussion on the topic “Balance of Functions: Retail in the Historic Center” took place as part of the discussion panel of the Forum “REBUS-2023”.
Natalya Marova, the Project Manager and Maria Yashenkova, General Director and founder of the Bright Consulting became the moderators of the session.
The participants of the discussion dwelled on the topic of what retail can and should be like in the historical part of a city. The speakers shared the problems of working in such zones of cities, as well as proposed a number of solutions, the essence of which was considered the implementation of a number of inter-municipal initiatives standardizing activities in the center and using the best solutions.
Timur Baimullin, X5 Group Head of the Department for Cooperation with Regional Authorities
Timur Baimullin, X5 Group Head of the Department for Cooperation with Regional Authorities, noted that when deciding on opening a store, his company is guided by the importance of having residents living nearby who could form the shopping traffic. Therefore, it is difficult to find chain stores in the historical center. But this does not mean that they do not exist there at all.

- We usually choose places of mass development to establish shops, in order to build an effective business model which will help us repay our efforts. And it is still more difficult to do it in the historical center. Besides, it is very difficult to choose the appropriate premises meeting our needs. Apart from all, it is difficult to place a store in an old residential fund, since in the historical center in any case we are reasonably talking about rent. And this means that we will not be able to reconstruct the area and to zone it the way we need. More than that, it always involves certain risks to make repairs, arrange any drop-off drives for the unloading zone, because it may be prohibited at any moment, or not coordinated, - admitted Baimullin.

Moreover, according to the rules of improvement, it is forbidden to place a drop-off drives for unloading on the main street; this must be done in the backyard. - And again, given that we deliver goods in 15-ton volumes, it is harder to do it in the historical center, - the speaker noted. - In addition, placing a store in the central part of the city entails high rent, given the need in large areas.
- Our stores have a recognizable identity. The city administration is reverential to the exterior appearance of buildings, and they may ask us to change the color solutions or design. We are not always ready for this, because advertising to attract people in the passing stream is important for us, - Baimullin explained.

Thus, according to the speaker, the development of retail in the historical center is possible only in compliance with two conditions: expediency from the point of view of the business model (taking into account investments, rent, etc.) and the availability of a suitable location (with the possibility of carrying out repairs inside the building, installation of drop-off drives and unloading area).
Aleksey Elaev, Spar Kaliningrad Deputy General Director
Aleksey Elaev, Spar Kaliningrad Deputy General Director, noted that his city has its own peculiarities associated with being part of Russia. - We do not have a proper historical center in its capacity as such, there remaining 2-3 old houses in the center. The former historical center was demolished by the German invaders by 1945. And after 1991, the authorities started a random recognition as the monuments of all buildings which occurred at least 15 years before the start of the war. This was associated with “cleaning” of objects, perceived by everybody as wasteland or as warehouses, without the consent of the owners of the objects. This situation caused disagreements between local residents and entrepreneurs. All this was multiplied by prohibitions related to nature protection zones. That is why retail facilities in Kaliningrad sometimes cannot be opened due to purely regulatory reasons.
Elaev added that there are buildings in the city related to the special retail architecture dating back to German time, Stalin, Khrushchev and new Russian style, which leaves its influence on the construction of retail facilities.
- SPAR operates in several historic centers of different cities supplying tourists and ordinary citizens: in particular, in Salzburg, in the house where Mozart was born. In Kaliningrad we were constructing premises for the Spar Gourmet store. And since our object was located next to the building of the Hotel “Moskva” (built in 1920), we had to keep the uniform style of the facades and bring the same clinker bricks from Germany preserving the style, - he said.

In addition, according to the speaker, it is important to understand that historical buildings may not fit the functionality which is necessary for the placement of the retail.
Renar Bikkulov, Development Manager of the Fasol franchise network
Renar Bikkulov, Development Manager of the Fasol franchise network, said that the franchise is developing successfully. Fasol has 1,600 outlets in Russia, 22 of them are located in Kazan. By the way, four of the Kazan stores are located in the historical center. The speaker said that when opening a store on Bauman Street, the retailer faced a number of requirements and restrictions regarding the size of the shop sign, external, image elements. - We have developed our own marketing rules, which allow us, without violating the rules of improvement, not to lose the shop efficiency. We left the store windows open without covering them with any image-building material, and made a beautiful backlight in them. Of course, we have also worked out the assortment of the store, - he shared his experience.

According to Bikkulov, placement of a store in the historical center should be a matter of a certain amount of attention manifested from the point of flexibility and creativity, so as to work out all the tools of promotion and merchandising and get the necessary business effect. As a result, the case on Bauman Street, mentioned by the speaker, showed a good business effect.
Albert Ibatullin, Network Development Department Head of PVZ KazanExpress (giveaway outlet).
Albert Ibatullin, Network Development Department Head of PVZ KazanExpress (giveaway outlet), representing one of the most dynamically developing marketplaces in Russia, said that the giveaway outlets also exist in the historical parts of the cities. One of the first giveaway outlets In Kazan was opened on Peterburgskaya Street, which is very close to the historical center. And it became very popular rather quickly. - We do not use any special approaches to opening stores in such zones. But of course, one needs to take external marketing into account not to receive fines for violation of the requirements of the city municipality, - he gave an advice.

According to Ibatullin, it is difficult to find premises for giveaway outlets due to a number of requirements in terms of area, configuration and rental rate. - But here is the other side of the coin: the fantastic traffic. And this is a way to make ones presence known for those who, perhaps, will not be able to declare it with any other instruments,” he believes.
Vladimir Suntsov, Head of the Kirov Region Center for the Electronic Commerce Development
Vladimir Suntsov, Head of the Kirov Region Center for the Electronic Commerce Development, acknowledged that it is much easier for e-commerce representatives to open up, than for a grocery retailer which needs refrigeration equipment, super-wiring, complex refurbishing. - The only difficulty we face with is signage. We need the store to be recognizable. On the other hand, we do not have a problem of attracting traffic. We use internal marketing; our audience is used to being on the Internet: we do mailing lists, post information on our social networks, and people already know that we have opened a new store there, - he shared experience. - Plus, we do not have such large shipments for unloading. A small car pulls up, loading and unloading is carried out through the entrance group without any problems, - he said. However, Suntsov explained that he focuses not on the tourist flow, but on the inhabitants of nearby houses.
Grigory Lutenko, Deputy Director for Development of the Galamart Trade Center.
Grigory Lutenko, Deputy Director for Development of the Galamart Trade Center, warned that prior to the opening of a store or a giveaway outlet in the historical center one should decide: what he does it for, and who is his target audience. It is also important to determine: you just need to earn some money, or you make a flagship project. According to Lutenko, boutiques with unique gifts or brands which are not represented in small towns are mostly in demand, with the exception of non-food retail. It is for this reason the tourists arriving in a big city go to the promenade street and go shopping for things they can't find in their own towns. The development of such stores is staked by Galamart.

- We have stores in the historical center in Yekaterinburg, Saratov, Kazan, but not in their classical sense. For example, our store is placed inside the shopping center located on the street near the historical center. And there we still feel good, - he shared his experience.
Zhanna Belitskaya, the Chief City Design Director of Kazan, Deputy Head of the Architecture and Urban Planning Department, Head of Urban Design Department
Zhanna Belitskaya, the Chief City Design Director of Kazan, Deputy Head of the Architecture and Urban Planning Department, Head of Urban Design Department, answering the question of the moderator concerning the need which the city may have at all to open shops in the historical center, emphasized that the functions must be balanced.

Speaking about the installation of advertising signs in the city, Belitskaya said: - Since 2014, we have separated advertising and signs in the city, changes have been made to the project of improvement. And it was painful for business, since the changes went into effect in one day. However, there currently exists a working group with the participation of entrepreneurs to discuss pressing issues. There was also an artistic council, a collegiate body which allows you to get away from a single opinion.

- If someone starts his own business, he will need clear rules and a transparent procedure, - she is convinced. - We have compiled a description of the requirements for the types of signs. And for today, we have 90% of applications already submitted for approval of signs without any errors, which are being agreed within a few days. The main requirement: we want to see the city, not just signs. And on Cultural Heritage Site buildings the signs are in monochrome style, most often
in black or white.

- In addition, - Belitskaya continued, - the landscaping rules spell out the design of street cafes, the external design of objects in the historical part (as, for example, in Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda) and art objects next to the buildings of more than 1500 sq. m. Since 2016 a project has been operating in the city which helps developing a standard sign for small and medium size business. Another convenience is the lack of paper workflow. Everything is submitted electronically, and all information is entered immediately into the database. And business audits occur only if there is a discrepancy in information available in the database, - she summed up. - We've tried our best to simplify signage approval process. And the facts, when some businesses violate the decoration of facades or the procedure of placing the sign making the facade not balanced, are rather upsetting. If anyone has any questions, we are always ready meet and discuss them.
The results of the session
Summing up the results of the session, Suntsov called for a dialogue between business and government structures. - If the business does not understand the plans for the development of the region, it is difficult for it to make the projects and calculate their business effect, - he is convinced. In his turn, Ibatullin brought the leadership of Kazan as an example, which is open to a dialogue and acts in a partnership manner. Lutenko, on the other hand, expressed confidence: that the more beautiful the historical center is, the greater is the desire of the business to settle up there. - When there is a consistent design code, traffic raises its recurrence and increases the attractiveness, - he believes.

Towards the end of the session, Yashenkova expressed hope that in the future, new iconic retail facilities will appear in the historical center.