Less fashion in Berghaus Plaza
Textiles – January 2003
Berghaus Plaza has been one of the figureheads of the Dutch fashion world for years. Since fashion business and founder Berghaus left the building on Koningin Wilhelminaplein in 2000, the proportion of fashion companies has fallen sharply. More and more businesses from other industries are joining the original tenants.
Berghaus Plaza is currently undergoing a transformation. The halls are being fitted with new lighting, the walls are being redecorated and new carpets will be laid in contemporary colors. Attention will soon turn to the entrance, where the porters’ room will be moved from the left-hand side to the middle, making room for construction of a new showroom. There is no sign of renovation on the outside of the building, although a ‘to let’ sign can be seen behind the first-floor windows. This laconic message characterizes the developments in recent years. Since Berghaus, the founder (and also the largest tenant) left in October 2000, there has been a large vacant area in the fashion center. The first floor of the space occupied by Berghaus is still empty. The owner of Berghaus Plaza, Kroonenberg Groep, is in discussions with several interested parties and hopes to have the space occupied by the end of the year.
The other space on the ground floor is let to advertising agency Bates Not-Just-Film. The third, fourth and fifth floors have been occupied by cable operator UPC since 2001. Originally intended for fashion, the center has increasingly been extending its boundaries in recent years. Currently there are 35 tenants (35%) originating from fashion or fashion-related businesses, including many menswear companies like Tenson, Gaastra, 4You, New Edition, Italy and Strellson. UPC and the advertising agency also occupy a large space. It is not yet known whether a fashion business will be the next tenant on the first floor, and there is a good chance that another non-fashion business will come to Berghaus Plaza.
Lesley Bamberger, managing director of Kroonenberg Groep, would like to have seen fashion in UPC’s space, but finally accepted UPC because it wanted to take 6,000 m² at one stroke. Since that time, the owner has profiled the complex as ‘Berghaus Plaza Fashion and Office Centre’.
‘I think separation between industries is important’, says Bamberger. ‘This is why the fashion companies have their own entrance marked ‘Fashion’ and UPC’s entrance on the west side is marked ‘Office’. The manufacturing companies are also very much grouped together on the ground and second floors. ‘In these difficult times for the office market, one has little choice’, says Bamberger.
Due to the oversupply of office space, complexes are happy to let to large companies. Berghaus Plaza is no different. Besides the departure of Berghaus, there were also numerous moves last year. Bauke Gast Agenturen with Gerry Weber left the building, Enrico’s Fashion chose to buy its own premises in the middle of the country and Cracker moved to the fashion center which opened last year in Almere [Mode Centrum Almere, or MCA]. The MCA is attracting more and more fashion businesses. Bamberger: ‘I do not think that MCA is the only problem. There is too much space to fill in the various fashion complexes. For instance, the WFC, which is far too large. Also, many agents and importers prefer to own their own commercial premises.’
Enrico’s Fashion moved to Berghaus Plaza nine years ago, but last year chose to move to its own premises in IJsselstein. Rogier van Kleef explained the choice was made to establish a separate identity for the company, and that there was less potential for this at Berghaus Plaza. ‘We were always happy there, but for companies like us, in the middle to high-quality menswear business, there was little volume. In this new location we can position ourselves better and show our own identity.’
Apart from one critical comment, most of the current tenants are satisfied. Particularly now that the building is being renovated and redecorated. ‘I have a great location, with plenty of space and daylight. And after the season it is not so noticeable if your showroom is dark and empty, as many of our colleagues are on the road at that time’, notes Marleen Schröder of CCDK. ‘I think it’s a shame that a lot of fashion is disappearing, but I’m still here.’
Antares was on the point of signing a contract with the MCA, but reneged at the last moment because there were too few menswear suppliers. Jochem Poort: ‘Berghaus Plaza has more brands at the same level as Antares. The declining share of fashion is a shame, but it is almost inevitable in these times. The WFC also includes a lot of diverse businesses. People are letting what they can. As long as the volume does not suffer, I think it’s fine.’
Some tenants even see benefits in the letting of space to non-fashion businesses. According to Otto Klein, whose brands include Ichy and Byoung, the advertising agency can be of help. They can for example advise the other tenants or the manager on the right image and communications. ‘I am not against it’, he says. ‘Yes, it is a pity that the proportion of ladies wear has declined with the departure of Gerry Weber, that the building does not look presentable because of the rebuilding and that not all the space is occupied. But since the beginning of this month, the place has been looking fabulous. It has lost nothing of its fashionable character, and it has now acquired a certain exclusivity.