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A mall that focuses on the family Images RetailME November 2016

  1. 1. 56 | RETAILME | NOVEMBER 2016 MALLWATCH A mall that focuses on the family “We first thought of opening a mall in the late 1990s,” he recounts. “We visualised a mall to cater to family needs that would be centrally located and accessible to neighbouring areas as well as the King Fahd Causeway connecting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.” Spread over 452,084 sqft across two levels, The Bahrain Mall has a retail mix that caters for middle income families – somewhere between high-end and mass. “Visitors can find brands of their choice ranging from apparel to footwear to cosmetics. There are adequate options in kidswear as well, while the F&B offerings are also quite B ahrain got its first hypermarket in May 2001, when The Bahrain Mall opened, anchored by the Géant hypermarket. In those days, the retail landscape mostly featured traditional souks and high streets, plus a few shopping centres, not unlike the rest of the Middle East. Seef Mall was, perhaps, the first organised mall in the Kingdom. “Bahrain had not seen a hypermarket before we launched Géant, which continues to be one of our key anchors,” says mall manager Abhishek Shrivastava. “We were one of the pioneers of the shopping mall business in the country.” Its fortress-like red brick façade captures the cultural essence of the country. The Bahrain Mall exudes a unique ethnic flavour with its desert palms, water features, flaming torches and tent structures of the Centre Court. Situated in the heart of Bahrain’s retail district at Sanabis in Manama city, it offers world-class shopping options for consumers. RetailME traces the evolution of the mall since the time it was opened by Fucom International 15 years ago diverse. However, leisure and entertainment is a space that is still evolving,” says Shrivastava. Regional tourists contribute to footfall The mall attracts a fair number of tourists, mainly from Saudi Arabia, who drive across over the weekends and on holidays, in addition to tourists from Kuwait and Oman. “When we opened 15 years back, there were few organised retail developments in Bahrain so we faced little competition and attracted a fairly large clientele. But three more shopping malls opened between 2002 and 2006, City Centre Bahrain being one of them. That took away some traffic from us, although our footfall from 2002 to 2004 still averaged a healthy 5.5-6.0 million annually. But things got bad in 2011, one of the worst periods in Bahrain’s history. Our mall took a big hit, with footfall dipping significantly as the situation worsened in the Kingdom. But then, it wasn’t different for other shopping malls in the region as well,” he continues. “We have now begun regaining the earlier momentum of the 2002-04 era. We currently undertake joint marketing initiatives with our anchor tenants
  2. 2. NOVEMBER 2016 | RETAILME | 57 including Géant, REDTAG, Twenty4 and the only Home Store in Bahrain. So we have been seeing a rise in footfall. Géant still brings in maximum traffic. On a scale of 100, Géant would account for at least 60-65% of our clientele. The hypermarket is our biggest pull factor,” Shrivastava explains. Offering a balanced retail mix The Bahrain Mall has a strong fashion category with brands like Promod, La Senza, Lee Jeans and Giordano, while the footwear and accessories category is also well represented by brands like Skechers, Hush Puppies and Accessorize. For children, there are Adams and Mothercare. “Our fragrance and beauty segments are quite strong, especially the perfume mix. That’s because of strong demand from local Bahrainis as well as the Saudi visitors who are fond of fragrances,” Shrivastava points out. “We house The Body Shop and regional concepts like Mikyajy as well as fragrance houses like Ajmal Perfumes, Al Hawaj and Arabian Oud. We also have several home- grown fragrance concepts and kiosks strewn across the mall that have struck a chord with our audience.” Almost 60% of the mall’s original retailers have remained since the last 15 years, even though the mall continuously sources new and innovative concepts. The Bahrain Mall houses brands from some of the major regional retail players including Apparel Group, AZADEA Group, Lals Group, Majid Al Futtaim, Jawad Business Group and many more. “Our F&B offerings have changed quite a bit. The food court was initially limited to some international chains and a few restaurants that offered Arabic food. It had a minimalist look and feel – some wrought iron tables and chairs strewn across a central area. We realised that F&B could be another strong pull factor like the hypermarket so we decided to upgrade our food court. We added several new options, ranging from Italian to Indian and from cafés to ice-cream parlours,” he says. The Bahrain Mall has a wide selection of F&B offerings ranging from fast food joints like KFC and Burger King to Papa John’s Jasmis, Yum Yum Tree and Abhishek Shrivastava 3 factors that make a regional mall a success ■ Easy access to a shopping mall is crucial. The parking lot must also be conveniently located. ■ Customer service is crucial. When visitors come to the mall, the environment must be welcoming from the parking to the main entrance and the rest of the mall. ■ Personal hygiene is high priority for the people. So the washrooms in a shopping mall must be clean and well maintained. Category (tenants) Area percentage Antiques/Handicrafts/Gifts 0.27% Beauty Products / Cosmetics 0.42% Bookshop 0.03% Electronics 0.15% Eye ware 0.27% Fashion (apparel+ accessories) 22.85% Fitness 0.49% Food Outlet (food-court+ restaurants) 9.03% Furnishing & Home Décor 20.55% Health Care & Nutrition 1.35% Hypermarket 38.04% Jewellery 0.56% Leisure / Entertainment 0.97% Pets/Pet Supplies 0.37% Scents & Perfumes 1.61% Services + Financial Inst. 3.04% Grand Total 100.00% Mumbai Spices. Adding an Indian restaurant to the food court was a huge differentiating factor because other malls lack this option, feels Shrivastava. There is also a good balance of local Arabic food with concepts like Al Abraaj and Aljazeera Roastery. Among the café chains are Starbucks and Costa Coffee, with Baskin & Robbins in the ice-cream space. “Currently, we have a restaurant called Med Café with outside seating arrangement that’s quite popular in Bahrain. We plan to add another restaurant with outside seating in the near future,” Shrivastava adds. The leisure mix is evolving Leisure and entertainment is a crucial segment for a family-oriented mall. But it accounts for only a small percentage of the overall space. Nevertheless, the mall offers a fair share of amusement options, including a soft play area and video gaming arcades for young adults. “Today, technology-driven entertainment like virtual reality is a big thing so we
  3. 3. 58 | RETAILME | NOVEMBER 2016 MALLWATCH would like to add more excitement by introducing innovative futuristic concepts to our existing amusement offerings in the days to come,” says Shrivastava. “Our central location, with ample parking space, allows us to organise some exciting events every year. The Bahrain Bike Week is one such event that draws at least 4,500 people from across the Middle East. This year the event will take place next month,” Shrivastava shares. “In the days to come we will bring in new brands to the mall, including some unique, one-of-their-kind leisure concepts,” he adds. One category the mall lacks is a cinema. “The architecture of our mall – a heritage fort-like structure with a big canopy on top – leaves no scope for upward expansion. True, a cinema would attract more footfall but it wouldn’t make a significant difference because there are three-four cinemas in the vicinity – some with 15 screens. Even these don’t cross 80-90% occupancy over weekends, leave aside week days. However, if we feel a strong demand for cinemas in future, we will definitely consider the option,” he explains. Adding the services component The Bahrain Mall now offers a bouquet of service options ranging from money exchanges to banks to telecom outlets on the ground floor. They include Citi Bank, Bahrain Financing Company, Viva, Nonoo Exchange, Nasser Pharmacy as well as a post office. “Earlier, we had a huge mix of retailers on the ground floor, including an art and craft store, sweet shops and food kiosks. But we didn’t have a services component, which is essential for a family- oriented mall. People like to do their grocery shopping, their bank-related work as well as pay their telephone bills all in a single visit under one roof. That’s why we added several service-oriented outlets on the ground floor of our mall,” Shrivastava states. Parking is a crucial aspect in any shopping mall today. The Bahrain Mall offers enough space to accommodate 1,600-plus cars, with four entrances to the parking area in addition to a simple and easily accessible layout with wide walkways and a very relaxed atmosphere for all family members. ■ Almost 60% of the mall’s original retailers have remained since the last 15 years, even though the mall continuously sources new and innovative concepts.