Katja Bolander is the center manager who loves challenges and who is good at recognizing what the customer wants. With the task of creating a more modern and inspiring mall, she is now embarking on a significant redistribution of the store offering. Everything to simplify for you as a visitor.
“This is where it all started,” says early riser Katja Bolander, when we converge in M.E.E.T. food court one Wednesday morning.
“The food court, right in the heart of the mall, was one of the first projects I took on as the new center manager almost a year ago. The goal was to create a warm and pleasant environment, where you can both have lunch with colleagues and invite family to a long dinner. I wanted it to be a natural meeting place for everyone who lives and works in Kista. And that's exactly how it turned out,” says Katja, looking out over the welcoming space with its greenery and harmonious, warm color palette.
We sit down on a blue sofa and are served coffee by Husman's restaurant manager Vesa, one of many wonderful colleagues in the center.
I wanted to start in the heart of the mall. To transform the environment into a cozy living room
Clustering stores into neighborhoods should inspire
“The renewal of Kista Galleria is an important part of the urban transformation that the Kista area is facing. For 45 years the mall has been perhaps the Järva area’s most important meeting place and a hub for trade and service,” says Katja.
She explains that the renovation of M.E.E.T. is just the beginning of the internal facelift that will make Kista Galleria stand strong against the competition from e-commerce and other shopping centers.
“Some of the changes we have in front of us are a ‘facelift of the Fashion Boulevard (Modeboulevarden)’, which will be warmer and nicer with new facades and seating lounges. We are also clustering the range of stores, which means that the stores are divided by category into different ‘neighborhoods’. This is all to make it easier for our visitors to find what they are looking for. It’s a big job that will take time but with clear communication and inclusion, our hope is that the journey will be fun and smooth,” says Katja.
At the time of writing, renovation of all stairwells is underway, new seating has been moved into Kistagången and the skylights have been clad with light wood paneling.
Beautiful nature experiences in the mall
We move on from M.E.E.T. and Katja guides us enthusiastically around the mall's different walkways. We stop at a stairwell in Kistagången where lifts go to the health center and BVC. Katja proudly shows walls clad with light wood paneling and lifts foiled with pictures from Järva’s meadows and fields.
“Hundreds of Kista residents use this stairwell every day. I want calming pictures on the way up to the medical centers, and to attract visitors to nearby nature experiences. Soon we will set up QR codes with location information for each image.
Who would refuse an opportunity to set the vision for the continued development of this place?
Gut feeling brought Katja to Kista
Katja is more than at home in "her mall". As a true local celebrity, she cheers on families with children, shopkeepers and retirees that she has gotten to know during her daily walks here.
But how did a steadfast Nacka resident really end up here, on the other side of town?
“I went completely on my gut feeling, which told me I could not say no when the headhunter called. After the interview, which was here in the mall, I was overwhelmed. Here are shops and restaurants of very different kinds, in a mix you will not find anywhere else in Sweden. In addition, Kista Galleria is a wonderful place with a swarm of people – office workers and residents – from all over the world. That’s what makes the place interesting and exciting. Who would refuse an opportunity to set the vision for the continued development of this place?
A real mall professional
Katja is also a professional in the mall business. She is someone who seeks out a challenge – a change leader at our fingertips.
Her list of merits includes various roles at shopping centers such as Fältöversten, Nacka Forum, Skärholmen's center, Ringen and Västermalmsgallerian. Most recently, Katja comes from Ica Fastigheter, where, as head of communications and sustainability, she gained valuable experience.
“In order to achieve such gigantic change work, great demands are placed on internal communication. You have to create trust with your own team and make all tenants feel included and heard in the mess that happens before everything is in place. But as I said, I'm not worried at all. The mall is open as usual in the meantime and we see great interest, both from shopping-hungry restaurant and café guests and new tenants who want to establish themselves here,” says Katja.