Amid a softening in consumer spending, millennials interested in fresher fashion options will bolster demand for the Chalhoub Group’s Tryano department store in Abu Dhabi, according to its general manager.
Tryano is gaining traction after completing its first year of trading in Yas Mall this month, said Hamdi Kulahcioglu.
“The market is soft at the moment. The only way to win in a challenging environment is to offer something fresh and vibrant,” he said. “We have now found brands are asking us for space. It’s a complex business with multiple categories, hundreds of brands and thousands of customers, but we have created something that has gained traction. Tryano will be rolled out to other geographies once we are certain of every step and harmony is assured.”
The retail climate has been challenging for the past 18 months, with many operators hampered by an economy hit by a stubbornly low oil price, the strength of the US dollar, lower spending visitors from countries with their own domestic problems such as Russia and China, and the recent fall in the value of sterling after the Brexit vote.
A focus on the Abu Dhabi market is part of Tryano’s long-term strategy to build a strong relationship with its customers, by offering an “experiential rather than transactional environment” that includes the kind of personalised service that is synonymous with some of the world’s most famous department stores, such as Harrods.
“We have over two-thirds of our customers as locals from Abu Dhabi,” Mr Kulahcioglu said. “We have tailored our store experience offering a four-person concierge service, childcare from trained assistants while you are shopping, free make-up sessions and we are opening a beauty room early next year that will allow local ladies an option of private beauty sessions.”
While the store is primarily aimed at women and children’s fashion, it also provides space for local and regional designers to promote industry and creativity across the region.
“The typical Tryano customer is young, well travelled and knowledgeable about popular culture,” Mr Kulahcioglu said.
The store itself straddles 200,000 square feet over three floors and looks more like a hip hangout in Barcelona or Ibiza, with the four seasons represented throughout its different sectors.
“If you look at the demography of Abu Dhabi, it is young families in their late twenties or early thirties that want sophistication. Millennials today will shop at Fendi and H&M [and] they want high-end and high street, and that is what we offer. Our beauty range starts with Mac products, which have a very achievable price point and then move up to higher price points. Abu Dhabi locals are remarkably loyal to a brand and an experience, and we believe we have created an arena where they are well catered to.”
A number of high-end department stores are planned for the capital, with Gulf Related’s Al Maryah Central development to include a 205,000 sq ft Macy’s and a 230,000 sq ft Bloomingdale’s. The opening scheduled is for 2018.
Broker JLL says there is currently 2.6 million sq metres of gross leasable retail space in Abu Dhabi, and this is forecast to rise to more than 3 million sq metres in 2018. Retail rents held steady in the third quarter, JLL said.
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