ING Real Estate revealed that the restructuring and refurbishment of its existing retail stock will become central to its retail development pipeline.

At a briefing held at MAPIC, the property investment, finance and development firm said many centres, particularly in Western Europe, were ageing and no longer met their full potential in terms of competing with other schemes to attract retailers and shoppers. So it plans to create new identities for its refurbished centres and improve the shopper experience by introducing a wider leisure offer, including cafés, cinemas, restaurants and hotels.

For instance, ING Real Estate’s Nisa Liberec shopping centre in the Czech Republic re-opened last month after three years of extensive redevelopment, which has doubled its size to 50,000 sq m and increased the number of retail units from 70 to more than 160.

Meanwhile, other projects such as the Toison D’Or project in Brussels and De Opgang in Amsterdam are currently being refurbished with the topping out of De Opgang expected in December 2008.

Menno Maas, CEO for development at ING Real Estate, said: ‘All over Europe there are mature shopping centres that are nearing their sell-by date and are no longer able to compete with the new breed of fully integrated shopping and lifestyle destinations.

’We have built our track record over the years but believe that now is the time that refurbishments and extensions will not only be part of the centre development but instead answer to a very specific market environment in which we find ourselves today.

‘In an increasingly responsible society, it is no longer acceptable to ignore the many opportunities to rejuvenate these centres in favour of new development.

’By utilising our wide ranging cross-border expertise, we have demonstrated at Nisa Liberec how you can maintain and add value to existing shopping centres through redevelopment, and we look forward to accomplishing this many more times elsewhere.’