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Tue 28 Feb 2012 07:58 AM

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Dubai Festival City mall to get ‘major’ revamp

Owner Al Futtaim plans to boost entertainment and add more retailers in 2-year plan

Dubai Festival City mall to get ‘major’ revamp
"You can’t just refresh by spending AED1m."

Dubai Festival City mall is to get a major revamp over the next two years in a bid to boost the number of shoppers, the group director of Al Futtaim real estate has said.

The waterfront centre will feature more entertainment aspects and a mix of new retail brands, as well as large structural alterations to enhance sections of the mall with low occupancy rates, Vishesh Bhatia said.

“The mall is about five years old, it needs a refresh,” he told Arabian Business.

“In the next six months, you will see substantial activity in this direction. It will be phased, so some things will be done immediately – small things like improving lighting and navigation around the mall – and then there are the more structural [changes], which will take a bit longer.

“It will probably take us 24 months before we finish the whole thing. Part of our mall is less occupied than it should be, so we’re also talking to some new retailers to see if they would be interested to come here.”

He declined to specify how much would be spent on the upgrade, but said the investment would be significant.

“There are plans to do exciting things here; this is a major refresh. The group is prepared to invest.

“It will not be insubstantial. You can’t just refresh by spending AED1m.”

Recently, some industry experts have observed that Dubai’s retail sector is evolving into a two-tier market as competition heats up.

The emirate, dubbed the Gulf’s shopping hub, has added more than one million sq m of shopping space since 2006, and is now home to about 40 malls, according to estimates by Standard Chartered.

Experts warn that the glut of prime mall space has seen older centres suffer, with many being forced to slash rental rates in order to keep retailers.

Some malls are also under pressure to boost their entertainment and food and beverage (F&B) offerings, analysts say, as family-friendly amusement becomes vital to increasing the time visitors spend in malls.

“We actually have a very strong F&B offering, we have close to 80 F&B outlets, that’s a lot. Some are doing very well, Hard Rock Cafe is one.

“But we need to have an entertainment aspect. We are looking for people with experience and background to come into our organisation and give this a fresh impetus.”

Analysts say it is encouraging to see malls reviewing their position.

“A mall must evaluate itself to meet the challenges of a changing market, remain relevant and analyse the demand not only from a visitor's point of view but also a retailer's point of view,” said Stuart Gissing, a retail analyst at Colliers.

“It is encouraging to see mall owners looking at the health of their assets and looking to evaluate what the longer end game is to be, and existing performance rather than building for a specific moment and trying to stay there.”

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Jag 8 years ago

Well done Vishesh Bhatia !

DFC inherently has strong fundamentals....Parts of it suffer from critical design flaws...fix those and you have a winner on your hands!

Original Joe 8 years ago

Where to begin?? The Al-Futtaim executive said the mall is 5 years old and it needs a re-vamp. Anyone who has been visiting Festival City since the beginning knows they needed a revamp after the 5th day!

Your children's play area is absolute rubbish!!! Dirty, dingy looking, really, really poor with employees who are bad as well. You want to attract families? Go take a look at Mirdif City Centre's play area then go back and look at yours....see the difference???

Where are the Al Shaya brands? Haven't you guys kissed and made up yet with them? Starbucks, Boots, Mothercare, Next, PF Changs, Shake Shack, Texas Roadhouse, etc.

I believe Festival City will continue to be a Tier 2 mall at best unless they get their act together!

Richard 8 years ago

This mall is dirty and poorly maintained. Good shops and restaurants have closed because of low number of customers and poor management. The car park is a monument to traffic cones and red/white tape. This malls survives purely because of Ikea.

charles 8 years ago

apart from the glaring omissions in stores that should be there and are not, you also need to talk to RTA.

The road network getting in and out and around that area (to paraphrase Churchill) is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma

Fanny 8 years ago

We are spending a lot of time time in DFC Mall, the canal walk , Promenade are place to enjoy, not just to shop. IKEA, Hyperpanda are great place to shop.
Cleaning of the Mall is good and acceptable for the car parking. Still a lot of external area is required development , which we pleased to see to be happened.

Buenaventura Zialcita 8 years ago

I find DFC Mall compare to other malls around Dubai to be well maintained. I am more comfortable visiting this mall. except from the flaw in some ways I still go to DFC

Aisha Suweidi 8 years ago

DFC is an amazing waterfront destination. We always take kids to enjoy the shows at festival centre; great outdoor and indoor activities.

Ismail Marzouqi 8 years ago

Really nice approach from DFC management though it has always been an iconic destination for tourists as well as for residents of UAE. Al Futtaim has always shown that how caring they are by deploying high class service providers to maintain their standards.

Suzanne Turner 8 years ago

Thank you DFC for bringing back the HRC to Dubai