Introducing Finland's First Waterfront Designer Outlet

Finland’s first and pre-eminent Designer Outlet in a unique harbourside setting 75 minutes from the centre of Helsinki.

Much more than a retail destination, the development will include a marina, international ferry and cruise terminal, bus and rail interchange, hotels, restaurants, cinema and apartments as well as the existing award-winning National Maritime Museum.

There will be a mix of global and international brands, with an emphasis on core European, Scandinavian and Finnish brands plus strong independent retail names.

Kotka Old Port will provide a premium destination for designer brands to access the lucrative Russian market as well as attracting Finnish residents to the area.


The Location

A unique location between Helsinki and St Petersburg, accessible to both residents of Helsinki and Russian shoppers. The E18 motorway is the most important road in Scandinavia, connecting the capitals - Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and St Petersburg.


Distances and travel time to Kotka



Finnish Catchment

  • Finland’s GDP per capita is 20% higher than the EU average. The experts expect economic expansion of 2.4% in 2018 and 2.1% in 2019. (Source: Eurostat and Focus Economics)
  • Europe’s sixth most competitive country after Switzerland and an impressive tenth in the world. (Source: The Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018, World Economic Forum)
  • International travel to Finland broke all records in 2017. Nights spent by foreign tourists increased by 14%, Chinese travel increased by 63 %. Foreign tourists left 2.6 bln euros in the country, which is 500 mln euros more than the previous year. (Source: Visit Finland)
  • The Finnish people have one of the highest rates of car ownership in Europe and are used to driving long distances for shopping and recreation. Kotka consumers are expected to come from further away than traditional outlet catchment models suggest.

Helsinki Focus Groups

We recently conducted 5 focus groups in Helsinki amongst our target shoppers, with the key findings including:-

  • There is a strong desire for an international style outlet centre in Finland, and Kotka is seen as ideal for both location and experience.
  • Kotka is considered to be far enough from full price stores in Helsinki to attract great brands and a contrast to the border regions which are seen as distant, with little there to interest them.
  • The design was well liked with the centre being enclosed particularly favoured. 
  • Most of the respondents have visited Kotka, with many commenting on its strong relationship with the sea and are aware of the existing reasons to visit.
  • A desire to be able to purchase both well-known luxury brands and also interesting brands not easily available in Finland.
infographic_main2-1.png Download presentation (PDF)

St Petersburg Quantitive Research

  • Quantitative survey conducted July 2015 with 2,000 St. Petersburg residents, of whom 404 (20%) visited Finland to shop at least once a year.
  • Kotka was the fourth most frequently mentioned town for shopping in Finland (20%) inline with the findings of the TAK border survey.
  • 37% of respondents have visited Kotka, 8% of them regularly and only 10% of respondents had never heard of Kotka.
  • 39% would be interested to visit a new outlet centre in Kotka which  increases to 47% amongst those who have visited outlet centres elsewhere.
  • Valuable feedback on target brands and leisure attractions to make Kotka a success.

The Masterplan & Concept

The redevelopment of Kotka Old Port is designed to extend the current City Centre down to the waterfront, with the National Maritime Museum as the most eastern point.

The development is joined to the City Centre by extending the key civic spine of Kotka through the middle of the development. Key buildings, restaurants and entertainment facilities are located on and directly face the waterfront. An inner green spine links the key entrances together and back into the city.

The Designer Outlet is designed on the narrative of the traditional Finnish fishing village with buildings wrapping around the harbour and new marina facilities.

Surfaces and furniture are extended from the outside into the internal streets, while the use of natural materials reinforce this narrative.

Download Masterplan (PDF) Download Leasing Plan (PDF)

Destination Elements

In addition to Finland's first waterfront designer outlet, a range of leisure and other complementary uses will reinforce the attraction of Kotka Old Port, creating a true 'destination' location.

The presence of leisure and other uses will increase both visitor numbers and dwell times. It is a concept that outlet centres are developing across Europe as the outlet centre model matures.

Initial responses from tenants have clearly supported the proposal to develop Kotka Old Port as a ‘destination’ and confirmed that leisure and other complimentary uses would positively influence their decision to locate there.

Outside the masterplan area,  local and regional government will be investing in a new ferry and cruise terminal facilities for the cruise liners. The first 3 ships docked in the summer of 2017 and for ferry services planned to run between St Petersburg and Kotka.

Read our latest news

Stay up to date with Kotka developments...

June 19, 2018

Russian businessmen visit Kotka Old Port  

March 1, 2018

Kotka Old Port picks up speed: Freeport selected as operator

December 12, 2017

Kotka Old Port Press Breakfast December 12

October 17, 2017

Kotka Old Port enters its construction phase

September 20, 2017

Kotka Old Port - construction work in progress

September 11, 2017

Minister of Justice of Finland visits Kotka and speaks highly of Kotka Old Port Project

August 14,  2017

Kotka Old Port project leaps forward:
Outlet lease contract signed, extensive construction work begins

June 2017

Kotka Old Port Moves Ahead with Technical University of Southeast Finland Joining the Project

February 2017

Extraordinary results reached in leasing of Kotka Old Port Designer Outlet Center were marked by a reception hosted by the Ambassador of Finland to Italy

April 2016

The Core Group of Tenants in Kotka Old Port Revealed

Physical Works  at the Kotka Old Port Designer Outlet Village begin

Complaint about the City Planning Decision Withdrawn

Kantasatama: The City will take charge of the roads

December 2015 

Ferry link between Saint-Petersburg and Kotka to be launched in 2017

November 2015 

Kotka Old Port team enjoys a successful MAPIC 2015

October 2015

Kotka Old Port will be Finland’s first waterfront designer outlet

September 2015

Attractions put Kotka Old Port in pole position

August 2015

Go-ahead for Finland’s first Waterfront Designer Outlet Village: the Kotka Old Port

July 2015

Outlet Village would bring Kotka tens of millions

Waterfront designer shopping centre approved by Finnish authorities

May 2015

Kotka Old Port wins “Moscow Entrepreneur - 2014” competition as the most creative project

April 2015

Kotka - hub of investment opportunities

November 2014

Finland's new Designer Retail Centre takes shape

Kotka Old Port offers more

Kotka Old Port scheme


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The team behind the project

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    Cameron Sawyer

    Cameron Sawyer is Chairman of Board of Directors of the development and consulting company GVA Sawyer, founded in 1993, a member of GVA Worldwide.

    GVA Sawyer is the developer of the first outlet mall in Russia, Fashion House Moscow, and has nearly 20 years of experience developing various projects in Moscow, St Petersburg and the Russian regions. These include high-profile projects such as the former headquarters of the United Nations in Russia in Moscow. Two GVA Sawyer projects have been the subject of Harvard Business School Cases.

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    John Milligan

    John is CEO at Milligan, the specialist retail development company founded in 2002. At the heart of the Milligan philosophy is a passion and drive to develop places where people are inspired to shop. Milligan has the role of strategic advisor on the Kotka Old Port project. 

    From 1983 to 2002 John was an International Director at Jones Lang LaSalle. He set up and led the company’s European retail group which consisted of over 250 people advising clients on 2.5 million square metres of shopping space. He was also chairman of the JLL global retail group.

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    Gerald Parkes

    Gerald Parkes is CEO of Property Capital Partners Europe (PCPE) and one of Europe’s most prominent real estate investment managers and financiers. He was Head of European Real Estate Private Equity at Lehman Brothers.

    Prior to that he was the CEO of Invesco’s European Real Estate Group. Parkes has advised on multiple billions of retail real estate development and investment. He was the initiator of the Bluewater Shopping Centre in the UK and head of retail planning.

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    Byrne Murphy

    Byrne Murphy brought outlet shopping to Europe more than 20 years ago. He is the author of the book “Le Deal” which tells the story of his adventures building the first outlet mall in Europe and bringing McArthurGlen outlet centres to the European market. 

    Murphy’s former company McArthurGlen is the dominant outlet mall operator in Europe with 20 designer outlets in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.

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    Luca De Ambrosis Ortigara

    Luca de Ambrosis Ortigara was born in Milan in 1965. After graduating in “Economia and Commercio” at Cattolica University in Milan and having completed the studies at Reading University in Great Britain, he starts his career in a management and advisor estate company linked to his family investments portfolio.

    In 1990 become part of Cushman & Wakefiled team (ex Healey & Baker), one of the most worldwide influential estate consulting company which was entering italian market in that period. Responsible for the Retail Division, he developed promotional, management activities and lettings on behalf of important clients in both the retail and the large-scale retail trade sectors. He became partner of the company in 1994.