Antwerp: a retail city with many faces

Ann Hayen and her colleague Steven Callewaert guide retailers in their search for suitable locations. In doing so, they combine their expertise in retail real estate with legal services. Their client portfolio is extremely diverse, ranging from market-listed multinationals to starters looking for sites for their very first stores.

Ann Hayen and her colleague Steven Callewaert
Ann Hayen and her colleague Steven Callewaert

A city with many faces

‘Three elements are crucial in the choice for a site: surface area, price and location. Practical factors determine the desired surface area or the maximum price of the rent, but the choice for a location in the city is especially dependant on the identity and market position of the retailer. We always try to find a neighbourhood that is suited to the DNA of the retail concept,’ explains Ann Hayen. 

Antwerp is a city of many faces; the different shopping zones illustrate this. Luxury brands are grouped in the area around the Schuttershofstraat, with major fashion chains often choosing a site on the De Meir shopping street. Other popular shopping zones are the Antwerp Fashion District and the Wilde Zee. 

‘The different shopping zones in Antwerp each have their own character, but are all in walking distance from each other. That often isn’t the case in other cities such as Brussels. As a result, Antwerp is an attractive destination for tourists and day shoppers,’ says Ann Hayen. ‘The central location of the shopping zone means a shopping afternoon can be perfectly combined with a cultural activity or a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants or cafés.’

First location in Antwerp

Antwerp is also a popular destination for international retail chains that want to open their first Belgian branch. ‘Belgium is on a fault line between North European and South European countries, and combines both cultures to a certain degree. As a result, Belgian cities are interesting for retailers that are expanding internationally and want to test their concepts in a new market. As Belgium is not a large or expansive country, they can get to know this new market relatively quickly,’ says Steven Callewaert. 

Antwerp is a popular destination for international retail chains that want to open their first Belgian branch.

‘We often see that retailers from, for example, the Netherlands or Scandinavia, choose Antwerp for their first Belgian location. Furthermore, internationally, Antwerp has the reputation for being home to a lot of original retail concepts.’ 

Are you considering opening a location in Antwerp? Contact Investdesk.