Feb 01 2013
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High-profile retail in Kuwait
The number of high-profile, international retailers moving into the new shopping centers is also on the rise, signaling a growing confidence in the Kuwaiti market. However, as competition in the sector heats up, industry players are recognizing the need to attract both new and repeat business, citing customer loyalty as a key component of long-term success. Rising consumer demand has led to a wave of new shopping centers opening their doors in Kuwait in recent years. 360 Kuwait, which began operating in 2009, is home to 82,000 sq meters of retail space, and the Mall of Kuwait is expected to have a 150,000-sq-m capacity when it opens. In its expansion, which covers an area of more than 100,000 sq m at a cost of KD 150 million ($533 million), The Avenues has adopted the increasingly popular model of combining retail outlets with family entertainment options. The new sections of the mall include the Grand Avenue, which has become a talking point due to its unusual architectural design.
The Avenue sets out to conjure up an outdoor, European shopping experience, with retailers located on a 500-m-long, 20-m-wide, tree-lined boulevard. The mallas new sections contain a number of small boutiques and international retailers, as well as popular restaurant chains. New retailers include the first overseas branch of the American kitchen supply and gourmet goods store Williams-Sonoma. The store opened in November in partnership with M H Alshaya , a Kuwait City-based global franchise operator. Even more new sections are set to open in the coming months, including Prestige, which will house a number of high-end retailers, including a branch of Harvey Nichols. The third phase will also witness the construction of the Mall, which is to serve as a connection between the buildings constructed in the shopping centre first two phases. The Mall is set to contain a jewellery souk, and a 5000-sq-m section of the first floor has been dedicated to childrens entertainment. Another area of the mall, SoKu (South of Kuwait) is modeled on New Yorks famous SoHo district and is intended to attract a younger segment of the Kuwaiti population. While the expansion of the retail sector is gaining pace, luxury goods sales have suffered in recent years due to a wave of consumer wariness sparked by the global economic crisis. Shahzad Gidwani, the general manager of the trading division at Kuwait-based luxury goods trader Mourad Yousuf Behbahani Company, told OBG that overall luxury sales were flat in 2012 and that future expansion may necessitate a change in the way retailers interact with their clients.
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