Being regarded as one of the most talented architects in the retail and leisure industry, CEO Davide Padoa talks to RLI about his company Design International, and the new opportunities ahead.
It has been a rollercoaster 12 months for London-based international architectural design specialist Design International (DI), partly due to the economic climate and the difficult conditions experienced world-wide, but also thanks to a recent significant strategic restructuring programme and also to a number of new opportunities and imminent openings. Because the group has always placed its emphasis on building close and lasting relationships, it has remained extremely positive during the global slowdown and many of those clients forced to put projects on hold have retained DI on a consultancy basis, preferring to keep the company involved.
In fact, the group has actually seen a growth in both project portfolio and turnover in 2009 ity to develop a strategy for the next 5-6 years and to fully understand where it is that we want to be,” explains Chief Executive Officer, Davide Padoa.
Expansion in North Africa remains the key priority, he says, with the practise opening a new office in Cairo at the beginning of April. “What we particularly like about this market is that we have established a very strong relationship with a client that is normally more of an investor than a developer, so they are looking for a development consultancy se rvice and somebody that can provide true expertise and ultimately add value to their development.”
In addition to North Africa, further expansion is planned throughout Far East Asia with a new project win, Midan in Incheon, Seoul in Korea, progressing very well.
Of course the ability to establish quick communication and a line of trust with clients is the key to access a market such as North Africa, and this is where Padoa’s pedigree comes to the fore; having worked in Indonesia, the US and throughout Europe, he has a huge arsenal of experience and understanding necessary to create opportunities in diverse cultural markets.
The group has recently inked a deal with the owner of Egyptian company Cleopatra, assisting in its ambitious programme to open about six shopping malls in Egypt over the next ten years, as well as expanding his luxury resort real estate business throughout the country. In addition, DI is working in Tunis on Tunis Lifestyle Mall, situated close to La Goulette cruise liner terminal.
“In both cases, in Tunis and Cairo, we are talking about schemes in excess of 350,000sq m, with mixed-use elements such as five-star hotels water parks and a number of entertainment features,” says Padoa.
The group has seized the opportunity to restructure its offices in Mumbai, and in Abu Dhabi and Toronto whose markets had become quite fragile. In Jakarta and London, the offices have been expanded significantly.
New completions for 2010-11 include the Morocco Mall in Casablanca and Cleopatra Mall in Cairo. Morocco Mall is due to open in March 2011 and is anchored by Galeries Lafayette, the retailer’s first store in North Africa, and the luxury brands Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi. The scheme features an Imax cinema and the largest aquarium in the northern hemisphere, making it a landmark destination for the entire country.
For the full article, please see the May 2010 issue.