In the US, several shopping centres have closed or are now gasping their last breath, especially ones that were developed and designed around department store like Macy’s or JC Penney.
Shopping centres in Australia are recognising this big shift and have responded by expanding their food, events and experiences, like for instance, the redevelopment of Chadstone shopping centre in Victoria. The mall now includes a new dine-in restaurant precinct, an up-market movie theatre and a Lego Discovery Centre, giving their customers experiences other than shopping.
While shopping centres in other parts of the globe are finding it hard to survive, the retail sector in the Middle East is thriving and growing. A flurry of malls have opened in the region like the Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, the 418,000sqm Nakheel Mall in Dubai and the Mall of Egypt in Cairo, to name a few.
And demand for retail spaces in these malls are high.
According to Stuart Elder, CEO of the 500,000sqm Mall of Qatar, 97 per cent of the shopping centre has been rented.
“We are seeing demand from retailers to be a part of our mall,” Elder told Inside Retail. “Our retail mix is without par in Qatar and we are proud to have brought many new retailers to the region.”
The mall, which opened on December 10 last year, is taking recreation, leisure and entertainment to a new level. The centre features its resident troupe, a world’s first, offering mall-wide entertainment with 52 weeks of headline shows on a 360-degree custom developed revolving stage, as well as a multilevel Family Entertainment Complex integrating an international edutainment concept, advanced gaming machines and rides.
The mall also includes a 19-screen Megaplex inclusive of IMAX’s revolutionary laser projection and 12 channel immersive sound system on the region’s largest screen, 28 metres wide by 15 metres high. The cinema also features the latest 4D projection technology screen, VIP screens, an eight-lane bowling alley and in-theatre food services.
The Mall of Qatar, which is situated next to the Al Rayyan FIFA 2022 stadium, was designed with the customer in mind.
“When we were conceptualising Mall of Qatar, we recognised the importance of the customer experience,” Elder said. “At the core, we are a mall that offers superior shopping, dining and entertainment.”
“Our strategy has always been to elevate this standard and create incredible experiences that will drive footfall. This is how we envisioned retail and entertainment coming together and being brought it to life,” he added.
According to Elder, the shopping centre has the best mix of “most wanted” and “most needed” retailers, and this alone will shoppers coming back to the mall.
“We have a truly unique concept that entices and excites both local and international customers every day,” Elder said.
“The Mall of Qatar was designed with the customer in mind, meaning that every decision made about the décor, materials, lighting and everything pertaining to the mall was carefully considered,” he added.
Elder said they worked with architect firm Chapman Taylor with the mall’s design.
“In terms of the interiors, we have 13 types of marble from around the world covering more than 62,000sqm of floor finishes and vertical cladding,” he said.
“We also added a natural appeal with over 10,500sqm of extensive natural sky lighting including a 28-meter high skylight in the luxurious court, and 24 relaxing water features both inside and out the mall.”
“In addition to that, we worked with international artists to create seven artworks with a dual purpose of lighting the mall and surprising and delighting our customers,” he added.
“The design aesthetic is definitely strong throughout the mall, and it truly adds to our unique offering, creating an interesting experience for our consumers on its own merit.”
Elder said they have not had the chance to work with Australian retailers yet but are looking forward to welcoming some of the more prominent Australian retailers to their mall.
“There are some great Australian brands that are working on global expansion plans at the moment, and Mall of Qatar would be an excellent opportunity for these brands to enter the market.”
According to Elder, as interesting as it seems to expand in the APAC region, especially in Australia, they don’t have expansion plans at the moment.
“We do know that the Australian market is dominated by some excellent mall operators such as Westfield and Vicinity, and we are always interested to see what is happening around the globe to stay on trend so that we can continue to excite our customers and attract the best retailers.”
But, he said, “our focus for 2018 is on giving our customers the best experience that we can, working with our retailers on growing their sales, and entertaining and connecting with our communities.”
Access exclusive analysis, locked news and reports with Inside Retail Weekly. Subscribe today and get our premium print publication delivered to your door every week.