Yas Mall in home stretch on leasing programme

Yas Mall, Abu DhabiAn artist’s rendering of Town Square, the heart of Yas Mall, which is set for a November opening. Retailers are currently onsite at Yas Mall and fitting out ahead of the opening l Image Credit: Courtesy: Aldar

Dubai: Just about every global brand of repute — and even those aspiring for that status — now have a roadmap that points to Abu Dhabi. If they haven’t already found a choice location at some of the city’s existing malls or swanky newer ones such as The Galleria and the World Trade Centre (WTC) Mall, they needn’t wait that long for more options.

Yas Mall, which has confirmed a November opening date, still has 15 per cent of space yet to be signed up. But interested retailers will need to tick quite a few boxes to get a foot past the door. “For the final 15 per cent we are keen to attract the right brands that complement our diverse tenant mix rather than just filling the space — so we are being selective with our retail partners,” said Talal Al Dhiyebi, executive director for asset management at Aldar, the developer.

Retailers are currently onsite at Yas Mall and fitting out ahead of the opening. Of those who have signed up and are fitting out, “There are a number of new concepts for Abu Dhabi such as Funworks, a family entertainment centre that will offer a unique edutainment concept, and The Cheesecake Factory,” said Al Dhiyebi. “We will be revealing more in the coming months... but they are a surprise for now.”

Abu Dhabi has been a virtual magnet for global brands in the last 24 months, coinciding with the coming to market of The Galleria and WTC Mall. That was enough to propel the city to the Top 5 global rankings in terms of new brand entries during 2013, according to recently released findings by CBRE. The 2.5 million square feet Yas Mall’s opening is all set to consolidate the trend.

But can Abu Dhabi’s mall landscape develop into an all-year destination, similar to the status enjoyed by Dubai’s top retail centres? Or will Abu Dhabi’s retail calendar crystallise around a couple of peak seasons and a relatively fallow period in between?

Al Dhiyebi will not have any of that negativity — “More than 75 per cent of the world’s population is within an eight to ten hour flight of Abu Dhabi and this region has become a globally recognised shopping destination of which Yas Mall will further cement this position.

“Yas Mall is an all-year around destination — it is roughly 10 minutes from the Abu Dhabi International Airport and 20 minutes from downtown Abu Dhabi, making it accessible for both residents and tourists.

“There are a number of large-scale residential developments in close proximity to Yas Mall such as Raha Beach and Al Reef and these [will] drive consistent footfall to the mall. The recently launched Ansam residential development has seen significant demand and will add to the growing population on Yas Island when it is complete.”

Market analysts contend Yas Mall’s reach among domestic shoppers need not be confined to within Abu Dhabi city. “Unlike existing malls, Yas Mall’s location means it is only 45 minutes from the highly populated areas of Dubai, which will mean retail spend will not just come from Abu Dhabi,” said Simon Townsend, business development manager at the consultancy DTZ.

“From a location standpoint, it is expected that this mall, despite its size will expand the retail platform for many of the brands and support their trade in existing outlets rather than replace it.”

Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor, gulfnews.com GN

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