Qrf City Retail is an initiative of the Benelux real estate company Quares and was set up in 2006 by Freddy Hoorens and Herman Du Bois. By stocklisting Qrf Retail in 2013, the option to invest in inner city retail property was opened up for both institutional and private investors.
“At the initial public offering we had more demand than we were providing for, and ever since that beginning in 2013 it has been a huge success,” says CEO Anneleen Desmyter. “We more than doubled our investment from 114 million to 250 million EUR in assets under management. We have consistently worked on the quality of our portfolio and today, 70% of our properties are in one of the ten biggest cities in Belgium.”
Retail real estate is a very dynamic industry, reflecting consumers and their purchasing habits. In the last few years, new concepts have been developed.
“Shops in the inner city are a part of the social arena in which people and companies operate,” explains Ms. Desmyter. “Cities are growing and there is more potential for retailers. Moreover, inner city areas provide spaces to create brand identity, which has become increasingly important with the rise of e-commerce.”
Qrf City Retail monitors the development of the retail market, trying to find out what consumers want and in which direction retail is going in the future. As one of the main sponsors of the Retailer of the Year Award, Qrf also stimulates its retailers to listen to consumers and improve their offerings.
“We are an investment fund that is more than a financial product,” points out the CEO. “We are an operational organization that aims to know and be attuned to the world of our clients. And, we offer individual investors the opportunity to invest in the golden mile of inner cities in Belgium.”
The company, which is one of only a few to be stocklisted in Europe, also attracts great investors such as AXA, which is now an important shareholder with 13% and Capfi Delen with just over 5%.
Qrf City Retail’s portfolio includes several remarkable properties, for instance, Karl Lagerfeld in Antwerp, H&M in Hasselt, Gerry Weber in Ghent or properties along the Meir in Antwerp. In the future, the company will keep on focusing on inner city retail properties, attracting both new investors as well as retailers who plan to expand their businesses.