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Sharjah offers room for more entrants

posted on 18/05/2003: 1452 views

Three shopping complexes that have been operating in Sharjah for some time now with varying degrees of success, are Al Fardan Centre, generally recognised as the one that first introduced Sharjah residents to the mall culture; Al Taawun Mall in the fast-developing Mamzar area; and The Gold Centre, set slap-bang in the middle of the city, and which has carved out a distinctive niche for itself. With other malls and upmarket retail complexes now jousting for visibility on the Sharjah skyline - which, however, still offers room for more entrants - these first generation of malls are either in the process or have recently implemented significant make overs, as they, too, seek to retain their place in the sun.

Of the three, Al Taawun Mall perhaps is the one complex that has yet to fully live up to its initial potential, as the mall officials themselves agree. They also suggest its time may have come now. "We have started to attract international brands, such as Red Earth and A to Z, and Damas should also be opening their outlet shortly," pointed out Shadi Al Awad of the mall management. He attributed the current upswing in the mall's fortunes to two factors: a shift in marketing strategy, and major changes in the mall itself.

This modestly-sized mall occupying, however, a great location on the Buhairah Corniche, fared very well in the first few years but appeared to take a back seat with the simultaneous development of a flyover that today partly obscures the property, and the mushroom growth of other modern shopping complexes throughout the city.

Some parts of the industry have even speculated the project might witness a change in direction. "Not a bit of it," declared Yousif Othman, promotion executive. "The mall is here to stay, and we are even mulling expansion at a later date." Othman asserted a fresh marketing campaign launched recently has resulted in the mall currently enjoying 97 per cent occupancy, with the number set to hit 100 per cent by end-year.

The mall has a gross leasable area totalling 67,000 square feet, with space for 60 outlets on the ground, mezzanine and Food Court levels. (The Gulf News Special Report)


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