The FINANCIAL — Batta, Bosanova, Parfois, Burger King, Smile, Vestel, Go Electronics, Philips, Zifrovik, Monte Napoleone, Columbia & Converse, Alberto Guardiani, Romantica, Shoes Gallery, Elvis, Mama’s Pizza, Alta, Popei, GPC and Ginno Rossy are the list of shops that are soon to be added to the 68 currently open mixed unites in Tbilisi Mall.
The FINANCIAL — Batta, Bosanova, Parfois, Burger King, Smile, Vestel, Go Electronics, Philips, Zifrovik, Monte Napoleone, Columbia & Converse, Alberto Guardiani, Romantica, Shoes Gallery, Elvis, Mama’s Pizza, Alta, Popei, GPC and Ginno Rossy are the list of shops that are soon to be added to the 68 currently open mixed unites in Tbilisi Mall. In addition to these a cinema and food court will also be opened in the near future.
Tbilisi Mall is the first modern shopping centre to have been created in Tbilisi, opening its doors in April 2012. Today Mall has leasable area of around 73000Square Meters and at present they have filled approx. 53000. The average price of renting space in Tbilisi Mall is USD 45 per square metre. The exact price is negotiable and depends on how much space exactly is wanted. More than 1,500 individuals are employed in the mall which is a quite good number for Tbilisi, so claims Gary Dunkley, Mall Director since November 2012.
Gary Dunkley is originally from the North of England and has 15 years of work experience in the retail sector in his homeland. “Before being the director of large shopping and leisure complexes in England I spent 23 years in the army,” he said. “Challenges attracted me to this business. Today is a different day from yesterday and we have to follow these changes. This is a big challenge. I have a fantastic team here, otherwise I would not have come. I want to be part of the sector’s development in Georgia. Georgia is a great country for doing business as well as for its nature. My family will be visiting Georgia and Tbilisi for first time in February and we plan to take advantage of the excellent skiing on offer here in Georgia.”
New Year was a great success for Tbilisi Mall. “We have nothing to compare it to though as it was our first year, but in principle all the shops are very happy. Regardless, we aim to do much better next year. We are always learning from experience.”
On one day alone, 29 December, Tbilisi Mall hosted 55,000 visitors. On normal days, the average is from 10,000 up to 25,000 people. It depends on the day. Weekends are always better for turnout. Weekdays are a little bit quieter but still, the number of visitors is never dramatically low.
“For New Year we hosted ‘Santa House’, which was a charity project. The mall implemented this project in cooperation with Zedazeni and Barambo. I’m trying to understand Georgian culture having come from England. In England everything happens on 25 December, but here in Georgia it goes on a little later. We organized Santa House and it was a very good idea as it attracted many people. There was a real Santa with elves and everything. We have something similar in England but visiting Santa there costs money. Here however, it was free to see Santa and take photos with him in the mall and that’s great. As a result we managed to help people from an orphanage. Next year we will improve on this. In general Tbilisi Mall is trying to be involved in as many social projects as possible. We have some other charity projects we are connected to as well,” he explained.
Carrefour is the biggest brand in the mall and therefore gets the biggest amount of visitors. That being said however, all the retail brands are prominent. “It is difficult to single out one particular brand. Zara, Massimo Dutti, Pull and Bear and Waikiki all do very well. But overall, sales are very good at all the shops,” Dunkley noted.
Tbilisi Mall is working on leasing with Veritas Brown | Cushman & Wakefield. The team hopes to have all units leased by the last quarter of 2013.
Tbilisi Mall put the concept “All under one roof” into practise for the first time in Tbilisi. Tbilisi Mall has definitely improved the shopping experience in Tbilisi.
“This is the first mall of this size in the Caucasus region. To compare it to anything else is very difficult because we have had nothing like this before. We provide everything in one place. If not for us, people would have to go to different areas and shop for everything outside. Here we have a bank, various shops, a book shop, cafés etc. As a result people have got used to comfort, and the culture of shopping has really changed since we entered the market. We don’t want people to only come here for Zara. We would like people to spend more time here in general. It’s important that we become a destination for people to visit offering many choices both retail and leisure. We are therefore creating a space for leisure and shopping together. We have a cinema opening in April.”
“If other centres want to gain customers then they have to offer more. They should grow professionally and improve service. In spite of our success, we are still working on being better. Other malls have to do the same. They don’t have proper brands and that’s a problem as people in Tbilisi already like to shop worldwide brands. That’s why we have managed to win over so many customers.”
The mall still considers other centres its competitors, but not on the same scale. “Shopping centres like Kidobani and Passage are competitors of each others, not ours. We have nobody that we are in direct competition with. This will change in 2014 as another mall is in the pipeline which means that next year we will have direct competition. We don’t have any now but that doesn’t mean that we are not working on our development. We are trying to bring something interesting to the table daily. There will be a cinema, food court and entertainment centre here. We need to do a lot at the moment. We are happy for today but we have to do a lot to be strong in the future as well. We are preparing for the competition. We don’t want to be left behind.”
Then again, small centres can compete with Tbilisi Mall in terms of distance. We are situated a little bit far from the centre of the city and this makes it difficult for some shoppers to get to us. But there are buses, mini-buses, taxis, even our own taxis. There are also Car parking spaces which are all free and this is another big advantage of ours; parking lot can accommodate over 2700 cars.
Tbilisi Mall doesn’t have any set, specified criteria for businesses wanting to open here. The only thing is that they have to have the right balance and a generally good mix of everything. The mall can’t offer only men’s or women’s fashions for example.
“We discuss this with our leasing group every week and plan everything accordingly. Brands have to be official ones. We haven’t refused anyone yet. Our leasing team is in talks with many people throughout the world. There are not many countries that are developing as well as Georgia is. The Government is very helpful as well. It is not easy to bring new brands in to the country but we manage to convince them. We have to show them why it is good, and as a result we are receiving interest from all over the world.”