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Turkish Company To Open Mega-Mall in Skopje

December 17, 2003

By Christopher Deliso

Koc Holding, one of Turkey’s largest holding companies, has announced plans to open what will be Macedonia’s largest and most modern shopping center, replete with parking garages and cinemas.

The $30 million, 25,000 square meter project, set to be completed by the end of 2004, will be located in the heart of the city center, near the old train station. A small hospital, police station and a few shops must be demolished to make room for it.

Dnevnik reported Sunday that a formal agreement was signed on Friday by Koc Holding’s honorary President and Migros Executive Board President Rahmi Koc and Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski.

According to it, Koc subsidiary Migros will operate the 3 floor-center, planned to contain 80 shops, 4 cinemas, a supermarket, restaurants and convention center. According to the newspaper, it will employee “hundreds” of local people.

The question, however, is whether the center of Skopje can handle two major shopping malls.   The nearby GTC Center, though much older and more modest in size, is the traditional shopping center of choice for Macedonians. Will this be displaced by the new competition? Or is there enough disposable income in Skopje to allow success for both?

Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency adds that the Skopje investment (to be called “Ramstore”) comes on the heels of similar recent investments in Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Bulgaria, and will be “…the biggest Turkish investment in Macedonia and in its retail market.”

The economic links between Turkey and Macedonia are vital. The Turks have long had a presence in the banking sector. And an important part of Macedonia’s retail clothing supply comes from Turkey, which allows for cheaper consumer prices. Perhaps the new mall will indeed live up to Prime Minister Crvenkovski’s expectations and signal to other countries that “now is the time to invest” in Macedonia.

After more than a year of governance with little visible results or economic improvement, the Koc deal comes at a fortunate time for Crvenkovski and his government.

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