Abu Dhabi’s World Trade Centre to open five licensed restaurants in retail mix shake-up
One of Abu Dhabi’s newer malls has realised that its retail mix was wrong and is working to fix it with a plan that includes five licensed restaurants.
Not quite two and a half years old, Abu Dhabi’s World Trade Centre (WTC) Mall is making several changes, but the one that stands out is “The Hub” area of licensed restaurants – a first for Abu Dhabi as the licences are not tied to the mall’s hotel, the Courtyard By Marriott.
Other changes include a new food court, a shooting gallery, and a big box hypermarket.
“We realised there have been some mistakes with the retail mix of the mall,” said the mall’s general manager, James Waugh. “We are looking to put that right.”
He said that while the WTC has had some outlets close – including several restaurants near its cinema – 90 per cent of the mall’s space is still leased.
The first licensed restaurant signed up, and now opened, was Jazz@Pizza Express. It is to be joined shortly by Bu, Tamba, BYB and Original Fusion on the upper levels of the mall.
The new food court, located on the overhead bridge that connects the two ends of the mall, opened on March 22.
Mr Waugh said the food court has increased WTC’s footfall by 10,000 visitors a day, though he declined to specify what the current level of footfall is.
The north end of the mall, known as the Souq, has been a traditional Arabic styled collection of SMEs across two floors.
“We have some major new plans for the ‘Souq’ that will give the whole mall a lift,” Mr Waugh said.
It will be remodelled to bring in a big box hypermarket on the first floor – Mr Waugh said the deal is almost done but it is too early to name the hypermarket operator. The Souq’s second floor will become a children’s entertainment zone.
“Souq concepts are a tough sell in this environment, we have seen a number of Dubai malls change them,” observed Matthew Green, head of research and consultancy at CBRE. “The licensed restaurants will be a driver of traffic in the evenings for many expats although the concept has to be handled sensitively. One only has to look at the popularity of the restaurants in DIFC to show the stand-alone concept works.”
While the World Trade Centre Mall is not eschewing tourist traffic, having recently tied up with the Abu Dhabi cruise terminal to bring visitors to the mall, its focus will be more to its neighbourhood than further afield.
“We have to focus on the first three blocks around us,” said Mr Waugh. “We are in the middle of a remarkably dense area for residential, commercial and office space. Everyone that lives and works in the immediate vicinity must be given a reason to shop here and not other destinations. Al Wahda Mall is only a short drive up the road so our immediate neighbours must become our best customers as they are spoiled for choice.”
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Updated: April 2, 2016 04:00 AM