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MBA Conference, 2006

Retail Market and Commercial Real Estate

The retail market is entering a new era according to the speakers at the 2nd Annual MBA Conference, which was organized by the graduate business department of the American College of Thessaloniki. The conference, entitled “Retail Market and Commercial Real Estate”, took place at the Conference Hall of the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry on November 4, 2006.

Dr. Nikolaos Kourkoumelis, Director of the MBA Program at ACT and Chair of the Business Department explained the rationale for ACT’s commitment to this and other such events: “Our strategic goal is to link the MBA program with the business community through research projects and seminars such as the 2nd Annual MBA Conference. I strongly believe that bridging the gap between academia and the business community is a must .”

The series of MBA conferences organized by ACT aims to create and disseminate knowledge relating to the changing environment of the retail market and the resulting implications for businesses in the retail sector. The conference focused on two main areas: The Present and Future of the Retail Market and Trends and Perspectives in Commercial Real Estate. Distinguished speakers and representatives of the retail and commercial real estate sectors presented their views on the subject and discussed their experiences.

Dr. Panos Kanellis, Executive Vice President and COO of Anatolia, and Mr. Jack Florentin, Anatolia Trustee and Chair of ACT’s Governance Committee welcomed the audience and opened the conference and were followed by Mr. George Pigadas, Commercial Director of the Oxford Company, who laid out a strong case for “outlet centers” as the next major trend in the retail market in Greece. Mr. Pigadas’s prescription for success in today’s changing retail market? The right positioning, the right products and above all, the right people.

Mr. Vasilis Vlaseros, Development Director of Lamda Development S.A., also discussed the emergence of outlet centers, noting his company’s interest in investing in them. However, he expressed reservations due to potential development barriers which include retailers’ misperceptions of the concept.

Mr. Serge Hadji-Mihaloglou, an experienced attorney dealing with commercial real estate matters, picked up on the theme, highlighting some of the obstacles associated with the potential development of outlet centers such as the constraints imposed by the Greek legislative system which, in turn, cause foreign firms to be relatively reluctant to invest in the Greek retail market. Similar concerns were raised by Mr. Dimitris Antoniou, Development Director of Media Saturn-Media Markt, who noted that there is an intense need for changes in the legislative framework, which will hopefully lead to the market’s deregulation and conformance with European standards.

Both Mr. Peter Chresanthakes, a business professor at ACT, and Mr. James Ward, International Client Services Manager, Lambert Smith Hampton Hellas, focused on investing trends in commercial real estate in the US, Europe and Greece. Highlighting the examples of malls like Village Park, The Mall and Mediterranean Cosmos, which vigorously entered the market in the last 12 months, Mr. Ward attempted some forecasts, noting the need for good management, a clear strategy, and a drastic change in the Greek business mentality.

A recent honors graduate of the MBA program at ACT, Ms. Ioanna Leontaraki, presented her research paper titled ‘Retail Industry of Greece’ to a very positive reception by an attentive audience.

Mr. Dimitris Tzivras moderated the opening part of the conference and Mr. Nikolaos Hourvouliades moderated the second session. ACT MBA alum and successful real estate developer, Mr. Nikolaos Grantas, was the Master of Ceremonies for the event.

Theme info: www.sxetika.com