Mart City

The Malta Business Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

There are nu­mer­ous suc­cess­ful des­ti­na­tions where strong place­brands have only re­cently been de­vel­oped to en­hance some­thing that has been there for­ever. One ex­am­ple is the Wild At­lantic Way in Ire­land – the world’s long­est con­tin­u­ous tourism driv­ing route at 2,500km – es­tab­lished through a com­pre­hen­sive des­ti­na­tion brand and mar­ket­ing strat­egy de­vel­oped by Al­lan for Failte Ire­land, the Ir­ish tourism devel­op­ment agency.

In that case, are there any par­tic­u­lar strengths that could be mar­keted to build up the iden­tity of The Shore­line?

As con­sul­tants, this is one of the key is­sues that we will fo­cus on in one of the next phases of our brief. With much of ur­ban Malta densely de­vel­oped, SmartCity of­fers The Shore­line an ex­cel­lent phys­i­cal plat­form to cre­ate some­thing re­ally spe­cial, in terms of the re­tail as well as the res­i­den­tial pro­pos­als. From a re­tail per­spec­tive, The Shore­line of­fers res­i­dents in the south of the is­land fa­cil­i­ties that to date have not been avail­able with­out trav­el­ling to the north into Sliema. Most of all the strengths that will form a key part of the brand iden­tity for The Shore­line will be the di­verse and unique con­sumer brands that it will be at­tract­ing.

How do you in­tend to add value to the devel­op­ment through brand­ing?

As noted above, brand­ing, done well, re­duces devel­op­ment risk and boosts prof­itabil­ity through faster and higher rates of oc­cu­pancy, vis­i­ta­tion and spend by peo­ple. Brand­ing is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal to any des­ti­na­tion; par­tic­u­larly a re­tail des­ti­na­tion. Oxford Street (where we have ad­vised), Re­gent Street, Man­hat­tan’s 5th Av­enue or Av­enue des Champs Elysée in Paris, all in­vest heav­ily in the man­age­ment and devel­op­ment of their brand on an on­go­ing ba­sis.

What are the chal­lenges for The Shore­line shop­ping mall?

It would be un­fair to im­ply that The Shore­line faces any greater chal­lenge than any other re­tail devel­op­ment cur­rently pro­posed in Malta. Over the years, we have seen a range of new re­tail pro­pos­als come for­ward; some have gone ahead, while oth­ers have dropped from sight with­out even a whim­per. We are well aware of the sort of chal­lenges that can be faced: The Point pre­sented a num­ber as did other schemes such as Pama.

Pos­si­bly the great­est chal­lenge that will be faced is the sheer num­ber of re­tail schemes and the quan­tum of space that could be de­liv­ered by cur­rent re­tail devel­op­ment pro­pos­als in Malta. The Shore­line has the po­ten­tial to tran­scend all of these, partly be­cause it is to be de­vel­oped on the least con­strained of all the sites be­ing brought for­ward, and partly also be­cause the lo­ca­tion at SmartCity presents some­thing of a blank can­vas on which can be “painted” a dis­tinc­tive and com­pelling im­age of a great place to live, work and visit. In this way, a per­ceived dis­ad­van­tage of lo­ca­tion can be turned around into be­ing its great­est ad­van­tage. A key chal­lenge will be to at­tract cus­tomers to The Shore­line. We hope to achieve this with a unique range of re­tail oc­cu­piers and by cre­at­ing Malta’s first Ex­pe­ri­ence Re­tail Des­ti­na­tion.

But The Shore­line shop­ping mall is not in Val­letta, Sliema or in one of the ma­jor re­tail­ing lo­cal­i­ties. How do you in­tend to at­tract the right type of users?

Look­ing at re­tail devel­op­ment in the UK, it is in­ter­est­ing to ob­serve that the big­gest and most suc­cess­ful re­gional shop­ping cen­tres have been built, not in town cen­tres, but in re­mote lo­ca­tions, quar­ries and in­dus­trial es­tates. See Mead­owhall, Cribbs Cause­way, Metro Cen­tre, Lake­side and Blue­wa­ter (which is in an old quarry and only given con­sent be­cause it was be­low ground and out of sight).

The fact that The Shore­line is not Val­letta or Sliema or St Ju­lian’s should prove to be an ad­van­tage rather than an im­ped­i­ment. In cre­at­ing a unique des­ti­na­tion to sit at the heart of SmartCity, around which will be an ex­cit­ing mix of em­ploy­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and tech­ni­cal es­tab­lish­ments, sup­ported by res­i­den­tial apart­ments, we will be able to at­tract the most di­verse range of both re­tail­ers and cus­tomers. It will help make SmartCity be­come Malta’s only true mixed-use des­ti­na­tion devel­op­ment.

So this should in­crease a brand de­sire to be at The Shore­line? … and the pro­jected de­vel­op­ments in the com­ing few years?

Cor­rect. SmartCity will be Malta’s only true mixed use des­ti­na­tion devel­op­ment and The Shore­line will sit at its heart. It will be the “town square” for SmartCity where res­i­dents, work­ers, stu­dents, Mal­tese and tourists con­gre­gate. We of­ten re­fer to the key in­gre­di­ents that de­fine a des­ti­na­tion as be­ing the abil­ity to live, work, shop and play. Only SmartCity and The Shore­line will of­fer this in Malta.

The aim is to cre­ate a rich mix of qual­ity re­tail, leisure and food op­er­a­tors, many of which we be­lieve will be new to Malta. Many will come un­der their own steam; oth­ers will seek to part­ner with a Mal­tese op­er­a­tor. But above all, they will re­spond to the con­fi­dence they will feel about the brand for The Shore­line which the con­sul­tant team will en­gen­der and will re­spond to the unique com­bi­na­tion of global and lo­cal mar­ket knowl­edge, cou­pled with our abil­ity to bro­ker new re­la­tion­ships be­tween the lead­ing global brand own­ers and lo­cal part­ners.

We aim to cre­ate a re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence where the “dwell fac­tor” ex­ceeds any­where else in Malta by mak­ing avail­able to res­i­dents and vis­i­tors alike the abil­ity to com­bine their shop­ping needs with their re­lax­ation and recre­ational as­pi­ra­tions, and this is what we de­fine as Ex­pe­ri­ence Re­tail. Thus, we seek to make The Shore­line the first Ex­pe­ri­ence Re­tail des­ti­na­tion in Malta where as­pi­ra­tional brands will be de­ter­mined to be rep­re­sented along­side house­hold names, where peo­ple can find plea­sure in vis­it­ing, not oc­ca­sion­ally, but ev­ery week, where peo­ple of all age groups and back­grounds can re­lax and be en­ter­tained – for break­fast, lunch and din­ner.

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