By Andy Sambidge
United Development Company says mSquared will develop new retail strategy for island
The developer behind the Pearl-Qatar project off the coast of Doha has appointed consultants to develop a new retail strategy for the island.
United Development Company said in a statement that it has appointed mSquared Shopping Centres as retail consultants for The Pearl-Qatar.
It said the consultants will work closely with the UDC management team to devise a "holistic strategic plan for the mixed-use urban development".
The statement added that mSquared will "address issues of retail planning and merchandising, market positioning, anchor strategy and tenant selection for the various retail components on the island".
"The plan will add substantial value through design review and identification of areas for improvement, which ultimately will translate into revenue optimization, front end cost savings, operational efficiencies and leasing momentum," UDC added.
Ebrahim Al-Sulaiti, CEO of UDC, said the hiring of mSquared was "a step forward", adding: "mSquared's retail expertise and its vast network of established relationships in the regional and international retail community will add substantial value to our already well-developed retail and retail leasing operations."
Al-Sulaiti added: "This is a step towards creating a diversified shopping hub and repositioning the retail identity at The Pearl-Qatar from one that is perceived as being heavily upscale to the more comprehensive, welcoming, flexible and balanced shopping personality we'd like to have for the island."
Rashid Doleh, co-founder of mSquared Shopping Centres, said: "We are thrilled to accept the appointment and are looking forward to work closely with the UDC management.
"The Pearl-Qatar is a unique waterfront development, which promises to provide the people of Qatar with a premier leisure and entertainment lifestyle destination."
Developed by United Development Company, the island is located 350 metres offshore of Doha's West Bay District and is one of the largest urban developments in the Gulf.
It has previously been dogged by a row over an alcohol ban forcing some restaurants to close.
In January, celebrity UK chef Gordon Ramsay weighed into the row, which led to the closure of his Maze restaurant in March 2012 after just two years of operation.
Ramsay told one local news outlet that he did not see the rule "lasting much longer".
Finally making some sense.. The Pearl Qatar is a fantastic project that deserves a sensible retail and marketing strategy. No point in bringing in only upscale brands. The place needs high footfall brands that can attract a large number of customers. I don't mean Mc Do and BK, but lifestyle brands, mid-point price range, that create a unique proposition.
The absence of alcohol is a big issue, but not necessarily a deal breaker. JBR in Dubai is very successful despite not having an alcohol license. The key is to create market drivers, organize special events, attract the right brands, and create a "sense of place". All can be done. The place is beautiful, the infrastructure is in place and the residential towers have enough occupancy to guarantee minimum sales. It's just a management decision..
On paper The Pearl Doha is an amazing project however unless there is substantial investment in marketing the project as a retail, entertainment and leisure destination unfortunately it will never succeed.
The 1st part of the equation is the marketing strategy and the 2nd is the tenant mix and the only way to attract the right tenant mix is to first establish a competitive leasing strategy in respect to commercial terms demanded. Whomever you bring as a tenant the first question they will be asking is how the landlord is going to attract footfall and therefore what is the marketing strategy.
Just down the road from The Pearl you will find Katara. This place is buzzing every evening EVEN during the week day when just a stones throw away is this amazing project The Pearl which is dead. The Pearl is MUCH nicer project than Katara so the potential is enormous. What Katara have done which The Pearl hasn't is invest heavily in marketing and awareness.
Lessons need to be learnt.
Market it as a Alcohol and Pork free environment for Muslim Sport Fans . It should be a raging success by all accounts. Use local Middle East brands to attract customers to a place where locals can feel the love of there own kind : )