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ABC opens new outlet in Achrafieh - Traditional shopping neighborhoods face hot competition (Daily Star)

The newly opened ABC Mall in Achrafieh has not only set a new shopping standard in the country, but will also grasp a large chunk of Beirut’s retail market, depressing trade in traditional commercial neighborhoods.

The newly opened ABC Mall in Achrafieh has not only set a new shopping standard in the country, but will also grasp a large chunk of Beirut’s retail market, depressing trade in traditional commercial neighborhoods.

The mall was officially inaugurated on Sunday, just in time to attract Beiruti’s wallets for the Christmas spending period. The 120,000 square meter site is one of rare quality, competing with top malls in the US.

ABC Achrafieh, as its owners have called it, comprises a 40,000 square meter shopping area, 30,000 square meters of entertainment facilities and open space and a 50,000 square meter car park that can hold over 1,500 cars.

The shopping area will soon include brand names, such as Virgin ­ since not all the shops are open yet ­ and will also have 15,000 square meters of galleries just for women’s clothing.

The state-of-the-art mall houses two department stores. Excluding the department stores, there will be a total of 170 shops and according to Robert Fadel, the son of owner Maurice Fadel, “more than 95 percent of the retail units have been leased.”

Fadel added that the cost per square meter for retail units has averaged $1,000 ­ prices nearly as high as Downtown’s. The semi-covered mall will feature eight restaurants and a modern eight-screen cinema complex, which will be one of the largest in Lebanon and able to accommodate up to 700 people.

According to a United Kingdom retail consulting firm, Horizons Europe, ABC Achrafieh should realize annual sales of $255 million, equaling a 16 percent share of the $1.5 billion Beirut retail market.

However, in the next four to five years there will be four similar new projects that will emerge in the Beirut retail market ­ ADMIC’s (the company that owns the BHV and Monoprix franchise) Casino Geant in Dora, Solidere’s Souqs of Beirut in Downtown, Al-Habtoor’s Metropolitan City Center in Sin al-Fil and Landmark’s project also in Downtown.

Statistics show that Beirut has 58 square meters of shopping centers per 1,000 inhabitants today ­ a figure that is far lower than the 167 square meter European average.

After the four other malls open Beirut’s average per 1,000 inhabitants will radically increase to 230 square meters, thus exceeding the European average. However, the problem with such a high increase of shopping centers in such a short time is that GDP per capita will remain at approximately $4,700. This will create cut-throat competition between malls and directly affect traditional shopping neighborhoods, such as Hamra or Verdun.

However, according to Ziad Shaar, assistant managing director of Landmark, the projects will create an effect known as coopetition ­ a mix of cooperation and competition ­ instead of competition. “All these new malls will help make Beirut a regional shopping destination,” added Shaar

Beirut 08-12-2003
Tarek El Zein
The Daily Star



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