A group of employees at the shopping centre holding a trophy and a prize cheque. Photo.
A happy team behind Norway’s most innovative shopping centre. Photo: NCSC

Sartor Storsenter won the innovation award for the third time

"We try to achieve what is new and difficult," says the centre director.

Norway’s perhaps most innovative shopping centre is located in Øygarden outside Bergen.

Sartor Storsenter has now won the Innovative Idea of the Year at the Shopping Centre Conference for the third time. A vacant premises and a collaboration with the Norwegian Cancer Society impressed the jury.

Read how they work actively to innovate and bring ideas to life!

- Shopping centres need to look beyond normal operations

Sartor Storsenter is located in an area with strong population growth and an increasing business community. The centre increased its revenue by 3.5% in 2021.

Centre director Thomas Skålnes believes that shopping centres must look beyond their normal operations in order to develop.

"We are keen to see opportunities and think long-term. We like to try to achieve what is new and difficult," he says.

Read more about the award-winning collaboration with the Norwegian Cancer Society further down.

Increasing number of visits and revenue with creative ideas

Sartor Storsenter won the Innovation Award for the first time in 2017 when the shopping centre collaborated with the municipality on "Gründerparken Vest" which was intended to help create new jobs.

"Gründerparken is alive and well. This has created many jobs and customers for us," says Skålnes.

The following year they won the same award when they persuaded the UCI Road World Championship’s organisers to re-route the race to pass the centre. It created a local festival.

"The shopping centre must be seen as an important member of society. Then think creatively about initiatives that are both positive locally and at the same time strengthen the centre’s position and profile, and preferably also increase visits and revenue. It’s important to take advantage of opportunities that arise," he advises.

Raised millions for cancer research

Sartor Storsenter has collaborated with the Norwegian Cancer Society for 12 years, and in that time has raised over NOK 6 million through various campaigns and projects.

In 2021 marketing manager Hans Jarle Einarsen wanted to create something new at the centre, while at the same time get more impetus for the collaboration with the Norwegian Cancer Society.

"We have some vacant premises every now and then, so I thought: Why not give the Norwegian Cancer Society the opportunity to have a pop-up space where they can show their presence?"

- Something completely new in the shopping centre context

"The aim was that the centre could create a meaningful meeting place between customers and the Norwegian Cancer Society," says Einarsen.

The Norwegian Cancer Society’s pop-up, which Sartor Storsenter has named the project, consisted of the organization having access to an entire retail space where the shopping centre organised exhibitions and activities, and employees and volunteers were given the opportunity to talk to customers about the issue.

"At Sartor, we were also able to demonstrate our social commitment. This is something completely new in the shopping centre context," he says.

Received international recognition

Sartor Storsenter has received great feedback following the project, and the local Norwegian Cancer Society has registered 122 new members.

"They have now established a similar pop-up in another shopping centre. We have also received positive feedback from the Norwegian Cancer Society’s sister organisations in Denmark and the USA," says Einarsen.

The Director of Shopping Centres in the Olav Thon Group, Thomas Rønning, says that this is a great example of how to develop a shopping centre.

"It’s a really good way to use an empty space, and that they’ve achieved this collaboration is very impressive.

Several nominations and winners in the Olav Thon Group

There were several nominees and winners from the Olav Thon Group at this year’s shopping centre conference.

The winners go on to a Nordic final in Stockholm in October.

Einarsen at Sartor Storsenter is looking forward to competing with the best shopping centres in the Nordic region.

"We’re optimists! And when we see that this is spreading to the whole world, it’s clearly an international idea. So we have got to win," concludes a confident marketing manager.