Qatar's rapid infrastructure growth may have led to an over-abundance of malls in the Gulf state, the vice chairman of Darwish Holding said Tuesday.
"There have been nine malls built in recent years, and maybe that's a bit too much," said Saoud Abdullah Al Darwish, speaking at the Arabian Business conference in Doha.
Darwish Holding itself soft-launched the 128,000 sq m Lagoona Mall in the Qatari capital a week ago, which the vice-chairman said had already witnessed considerable interest.
"Our average daily figures for the shops in Lagoona Mall shows that they are already matching stores that we opened 10-15 years ago," Al Darwish added.
A key feature of Lagoona, in which the company has invested $348m, is Fifty One East, a 13,000 sq m branded department store.
"In terms of the conversion rate at the store - or the number of visitors who actually buy a product - retailers will tell you that the best-case success ratio is, say, 15-20%," said the vice chairman. "But we opened last week, and our conversion rate is hitting the high 30s, which is nothing short of astonishing.”
However, the launch of Lagoona adds yet another mall to Doha's already over-crowded shopping sector. Alongside the giant City Centre development in West Bay, recent additions to the local retail scene include the Villagio luxury mall and The Gate.
Earlier this year, real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle warned that Gulf malls could become obsolete unless they revamped their offerings to provide more entertainment options.
Older malls that lack pull factors such as entertainment and F&B options will ultimately suffer and some may be converted to non-retail uses, analysts wrote.