x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Carrefour is first at Deerfields Townsquare to open for business

Thousands of shoppers flocked to Deerfields Townsquare shopping centre on Saturday as the Abu Dhabi mall’s first outlet, Carrefour, opened its doors to the public.

Shoppers push carts loaded with goods bought during their visit to Carrefour on its opening day at the brand new shopping centre Deerfields Townsquare on Sheikh Zayed Road in Al Bahia, near Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National
Shoppers push carts loaded with goods bought during their visit to Carrefour on its opening day at the brand new shopping centre Deerfields Townsquare on Sheikh Zayed Road in Al Bahia, near Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National

Thousands of shoppers flocked to Deerfields Townsquare shopping centre on Saturday as Carrefour became the Abu Dhabi mall’s first outlet to open its doors to the public.

Carrefour’s 6,700-square-metre hypermarket is the anchor tenant of the Dh750 million development, that was beset by delays linked to the global financial crisis and regulatory approval.

“By continuingly engaging in new activities and expanding our Carrefour stores and offerings we can consistently grow the brand throughout the region while maintaining the same high standard of service that is now synonymous with all of Majid Al Futtaim’s endeavours,” said Younis Al Mulla, a senior vice president at Majid Al Futtaim Retail, which fully owns the Carrefour franchise in the region and now operates 19 hypermarkets across the UAE.

Located outside Abu Dhabi city in Al Bahia, the mall is expected to provide a boost to one of the emirate’s less developed and less affluent areas. Until now, the area’s retail offering has been limited to petrol station service shops and some small grocery and convenience stores.

Officials hope to service the catchment area of the mall, which includes 150,000 people living nearby, as well as some of the 500,000 cars that pass by on the Dubai-to-Abu Dhabi highway every week.

“The suburbs of Abu Dhabi didn’t have much retail offerings other than the little convenience stores around the streets,” said Banu Tas, the general manager of Deerfields. “This provides a proper retail environment for the residents of Al Bahia, Shahama, Khalifa City, Al Rahba and Al Raha.”

About 80 per cent of the 80,000-square metre retail space has been leased, mainly to mid-market shops and food-and-beverage outlets. More stores are expected to open in the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year. The mall, which also includes a cinema and a gym, is expected to attract about 12.5 million visitors in the first year.

By mid-afternoon yesterday, about 16,000 shoppers had visited the mall, with many tempted by Carrefour’s discount offers. The retailer said it would normally expect to receive up to 5,000 visitors a day.

“We have been waiting for this opening for a long time,” said Ali Ahmed, a 36-year-old school teacher from Shahama who was buying a widescreen television for Dh1,300. “I’ve been telling my friends to come too, as Carrefour has some special offers.”

Deerfields was due to open in May, but the opening was postponed as executives waited for a non-objection certificate from the Civil Defence department.

Planning for the development started five years ago, but construction was hindered because of the global financial crisis.

“The downturn affected us, as it did everyone, but fortunately we have overcome that,” said Mohammed Al Haj, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi-based Mubarak Brothers Investments (MBI), an investment firm that helped finance the mall’s construction.

MBI and Fibrex Construction Group helped contribute about 20 per cent of the building costs. A Dh450m loan was also provided by Emirates NBD and National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

tarnold@thenational.ae