EPG Group has begun the reconstruction of Varyada, the 21,000 sqm shopping mall it owns in Karlovy Vary. This is no mere facelift. Varyada was a huge change for local residents when it opened back in 2005. Among others, its completion in 2005 meant they didn’t have to drive all the way to Pilsen to find fashion shopping. But shopping habits and trends have changed a lot over the past 20 years, making a radical re-think necessary.
The most basic change to the mall is that it will become roughly one-third bigger. The ‘new’ 33,000 sqm center should be able to expand its catchment area, which currently brings in 3 million customers annually. But EPG is convinced it will also be a more attractive destination for current visitors. “Customers will buy more in the new Varyada and more often,” says Martin Malý of EPG Global Property Invest. “The goal is to bring the sort of brands to this region that customers currently have to go to Prague or Pilsen to buy.”
The tricky part of expanding a mall is avoid making it too much of a hassle to visit. We live in the era of the retail park whose primary advantage is convenience, since they’re less annoying to get into and out of. EPG is extending the northern section of Varyada where loading docks currently stand. The new, separate entrance is positioned to enable day-to-day shoppers to get in and out quicker. Varyada will be extended to the south with a major new section leading from the parking lot to the current building.
However new the mall may have appeared to shoppers back in 2005, some components like its food offering were simply in need of a serious upgrade. Rather than simply replacing the existing units, the new food court is also placed in the new extension. It will feature up to 10 different restaurants, while a new drive-in restaurant concept will also be on offer. In order to take new Varyada even further up the shopping mall food chain, Premiere Cinemas will open a 2,500 sqm multiplex cinema.
“We’re looking for restaurant operators whose offering is both interesting and in demand by customers,” says Malý. “Connected with that of course is also profitability. In Varyada, we’ll definitely combine mainstream fast-food operators with local ones. Our goal isn’t just increasing the footfall of the center, but also to enable people to go shopping, have something to eat, meet for some good coffee or to be able to come for entertainment.”
Completion is planned before the start of the 2025 Christmas season.