21 August 2023 14:00

Safety is crucial to our business

Adequate investments and emergency procedures made it possible for IGD to limit the damages caused by the recent flooding to only one shopping center

Due to the heavy rain that struck the Emilia-Romagna region mid-May, 21 rivers overflowed and 37 municipalities were flooded.

Extreme weather, and floods specifically, were risks that were clearly mapped and, therefore, monitored carefully as part of IGD’s Enterprise Risk Management system. That is why the shopping centers struck by the floods had safety measures and emergency plans in place which were implemented immediately making it possible to protect the health and safety of both shoppers and tenants, as well as limit damages to the properties which were, however, covered by insurance policies.

Only the shopping center in Cesena had to close due to the flooding. Even though a large part of the hypermarket was reopened in record time, in order to provide the service expected from a “neighborhood” center, the mall is still closed. Restoration work is underway and the reopening is expected to begin in September. At the same time, a soft restyling project is being considered. The emergency can be transformed into an opportunity. IGD is deciding whether or not to proceed with a “soft restyling” as the restoration work progresses.

We spoke with Roberto Zoia, IGD’s Director of Asset Management, Development and Network Management, about it.


Let’s talk about the facts. How was IGD affected by the floods that took place in Emilia-Romagna between May 15th and 17th?

We have eight shopping malls in Emilia-Romagna and five of these were affected by the events: Centro Leonardo in Imola, Le Maioliche in Faenza, Puntadiferro in Forlì, ESP in Ravenna and Lungo Savio in Cesena. Only the latter suffered damages and has yet to reopen completely. The other centers never closed, with the exception of Centro ESP which was closed for a few days as a precaution and as requested by the authorities.


How did you handle the emergency in Cesena?

The flood took place unexpectedly on May 16th as the Savio river overflowed. From the moment the center was flooded, we worked to secure the property by unplugging the medium voltage transformer found on the first underground floor. We also evacuated the entire shopping center and the parking area immediately, without any injuries. Subsequently we made an initial assessment of the damages and we cleaned up all the mud and the tenants’ merchandise. We created a new temporary access road to the hypermarket, directly from the main entrance and set up new hookups for electricity and air treatment. We also immediately filed a claim with the insurance company and the appraisals began, which are still underway, in order to understand the extent and type of the damages caused.


What’s the current situation at the shopping center in Cesena?

About a month after the flood, the hypermarket is open to the public again as about 3,000 out of a total of 4,500 square meters can be accessed. The local families, for whom the Lungo Savio center is a point of reference for their daily and weekly shopping needs, were able to find the entire range of hypermarket products (including the produce section which was restored completely with fruits and vegetables from local producers) in as short a time as possible. A few Coop drugstore products found in the malls – and, therefore, not accessible by the public – were put directly on the hypermarket shelves with the personal care products. In the area that is now operational there is also a Coop Caffè, set up to satisfy the need for a quick break or breakfast in the morning. The drugstore will reopen in early August.


And the other areas of the Lungo Savio center?

The mall, comprising 25 stores, and the remaining part of the hypermarket need work. The insurance appraisers, as well as IGD’s internal resources, are still assessing the damage but all the systems, elevators, escalators, floors and walls will have to be rebuilt completely. The initial restoration work will be completed in September when the first reopening will take place, while the soft restyling will begin in the first few months of 2024.