Top retailers snub Qatar for Dubai's luxury shopping malls

World's ultra-luxury brands refuse to back Qatar's dozen new malls; sales per sq ft set to be as little as one-third of Dubai's best malls
Top retailers snub Qatar for Dubai's luxury shopping malls
An artists impression of the Mall of Qatar.
By Courtney Trenwith
Thu 14 May 2015 01:50 PM

Retailers in Qatari malls could make as little as one-third of the sales recorded in Dubai's Mall of the Emirates and only half that of stores in Dubai Mall, shopping centre expert Phil McArthur told Arabian Business in Doha.

The ultra-luxury brands, such as Chanel, Prada and Gucci, also are uninterested in opening second stores in Doha, despite having an average of three in Dubai, the founder and managing director of shopping centre analysts McArthur+Company said, speaking on the sidelines of Cityscape Qatar.

McArthur said retailers in Mall of the Emirates – the most successful super-regional mall in the world – earn an average of $1800 in sales per square foot each day.

The world's largest mall, Dubai Mall, recorded an average $1000-1200 in sales per square foot, with stores on the lower levels achieving the higher results.

But in Qatar, McArthur said malls were hoping to target between $600-900 in sales per sq foot, even for the same retailers present in the Dubai malls.

And that level still was not certain as a dozen new malls under construction open up, increasing Doha's retail space by four times.

“Those will be very difficult averages to achieve,” McArthur said.

Qatar's new malls also will struggle to attract the world's most luxurious brands, including Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren.

“If they're there trading in Dubai Mall and blowing the doors off, which they are, and if they're trading in Mall of the Emirates and blowing the doors off, then they're going to say 'where else [in Dubai] am I going to go to to blow the doors off?' Why would they go [to another city]?” McArthur said.

The only shopping outlet with the likes of Chanel and Louis Vuitton in Doha is Villagio Mall, and that is likely to remain the case for years to come, according to McArthur who said he had spoken to the brands to gauge their interest in Qatar.

“Luxury wants to stay in Villagio for a while and possibly move to a new mall in three years,” he said.

“I don't think you're going to see a lot of luxury in Doha.”

Yet several of the new malls have branded themselves as being just that.

Mall of Qatar, which is due to open in March next year, has signed lease contracts for about 75 percent of its retail space and has “hundreds and hundreds” of retailers on a waiting list. But it seems to be waiting itself – for that super luxury brand.

McArthur, who works with Mall of Qatar, said developers would be disappointed.

“Every mall [developer] wants luxury because they're luxury consumers, but their customers aren't,” he said.

If any new Qatari mall is able to convince the global luxury brands – who are likely to move together – to open second stores in Doha, it would be Vendome, McArthur said.

The mall is being built by the same developer of Villagio Mall, Abdul Aziz Mohammed Al Rabban, who reportedly rented a mansion in Paris and entertained executives and owners of the luxury brands in a bid to woo them to the Gulf state.

The French-themed mall is yet to announce any retailers. It is due to open in 2017.

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