Natural born winner

Eurobuild Awards
A hat-trick is not something that only happens in a football match. They don’t happen very often and don’t happen to everyone – but once they do, they are something to celebrate. This is the third time tenants have chosen Grzegorz Czekaj, the director of Galeria Echo in Kielce, as the best shopping centre manager at the Eurobuild Awards. We asked the winner how he feels about receiving the statuette once again and about his plans for the mall. We also asked him to reveal some of the tricks of the management trade

After a year-long break, you have been chosen as the best shopping centre manager for the third time. How does it feel to be a natural born winner?

I’m proud that after a short break we’re back on the winning podium. This award is especially satisfying, as it is decided by the tenants. And they are rather ruthless judges; there is no more demanding jury for us than our tenants.

Whats the secret of your success?

There is just one secret. The team!!! No one can win an award like this on their own. Managing a shopping centre is all about team work, and the reward is the result of the work of many people. I have the honour of working with a team like that and this is my team’s award.

The world is changing and accelerating, new technology is emerging, and the market for shopping centres must face new challenges. How do you manage to stay at the top with all that going on?

Certainly, you have to follow all the changes occurring in the market, respond to them, and predict difficult situations. However, it’s a good idea to also respect some good old-fashioned values: integrity, sincerity and reliability in contacts with tenants. We should always bear these in mind.

Galeria Echo has undergone some major changes. Its been modernised and enlarged, and its tenant mix has also been refreshed. Have all these changes been effective? Is there anything else youd like to change about the building?

In the past few years the building has been re-commercialised. It always takes a few years to see how successful such processes are. A natural process of replacing some of the tenants takes place. The tenant mix has been supplemented with a few interesting brands and the introduction of Swedish retailer Jula to the mall has been the most spectacular success, after having opened a store of more than 3,000 sqm. You can never say everything is good. There is always another step you need to make to stand out among your competitors and retain the position of market leader.

In 2014 you said: Nature abhors a vacuum. It would be a mistake to think that when things are good, nothing needs to be done. That would be the beginning of the end. What are your plans for Galeria Echo in 2017?

In 2017 we are planning more changes in the choice of tenants. We are thinking of expanding the catering offer with a food court zone, for a start. In 2017 we will certainly be doing everything to make sure that this year’s award won’t be the last one.

In charge from the start

Grzegorz Czekaj is the director of Galeria Echo in Kielce. He is a graduate of the law faculty of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. During his career he has been the commercial director of publishers ‘Exbud’ Wydawnictwo, the marketing director of daily newspaper ‘Echo Dnia’ and the commercial director of Polskie Radio Kielce. He has managed Galeria Echo since 2002.