A first of its kind in the country, Prime Outlet Cairo will offer customers the first available brands in an outlet setting in Egypt. Here, RLI speaks with Prime Group Chairman Tamer Wagih to discuss how the development came about and what guests can expect when it opens its doors next year.
Regular partners in designing and developing outlet centres, in 2016 BCIstudio and Freeport started looking at spaces in Egypt, prompted by the significant growth in full price retail, the entry of major international brands and the rise of a prosperous middle class. While it has not been easy to find suitable sites and local development partners, the Egyptian government’s programme of major infrastructure investment around Cairo has unlocked something new over the past couple of years, with locations previously somewhat inaccessible now well linked to the major population centres.
The upcoming Eastgate development will be home to many different elements, including premium residential accommodation such as hotels and serviced apartments. Also on site will be a major educational campus encompassing an international university and school, office and commercial buildings and finally, an “Auto World”, a high end showroom plus test circuit to enable top car manufacturers to showcase their products. “This is a new concept to the Egyptian market, so we have decided to go for a phased development strategy,” explains Tamer Wagih, Chairman of Prime Group, the company behind the development. “There has been terrific interest in the project since we first announced it and the first phase will open with a 14,000sq ft site that will include mostly merchandise but also a lot of food and beverage offerings. The second phase will be 10,000sq m and finally the last phase will add an additional 5,000sq ft. However due to the clever design from BCIstudio we can extend this further if there is more demand.”
Since announcing the project back at MAPIC last year, progress on site has been moving forward at an exceptional rate and the opening date in 2021 is very much achievable, especially given the building-friendly conditions in Egypt which means construction can take place 12 months of the year. While it is a little too early in the centre’s development to talk about signings on-site, discussions have been ongoing since the start of the year and enthusiasm from core anchor brands has been high. This process is expected to step up a gear during and after the MIPIM event in Cannes. “We are hopeful that we can bring some new entrants, perhaps facilitating the entry of retail brands that are currently considering Egypt but are not sure yet. We must of course also point out that there are some truly excellent local and regional brands that we hope to attract to Prime Outlet Cairo,” explains Wagih.
Away from the retail brands, the outlet is looking to achieve a comfortable mix of indoor and outdoor dining options which initially will be more child and family oriented options. When explaining how the project will bring something different to Cairo, Wagih says with this development they are looking to bring a different flavour to the city, a more leisurely and more relaxed feel, much like a Mediterranean summer evening along with offering a juxtaposition of brands and leisure options. “The scheme will be very different, it will have that outlet feel, something entirely new for Egypt that is architecturally inspired equally by the Mediterranean and by local vernacular,” says Wagih. Being designed as a whole new neighbourhood, the teams behind this have a blank canvas in terms of creating something that feels as if it fits together with sustainability in mind. As Egypt is not an oil economy, energy and water sustainability is a core element of the design of Prime Outlet Cairo. Inspiration for the project comes from the wider industry itself; the people behind this upcoming outlet are constantly monitoring the market and taking inspiration from emerging trends and new concepts.
As the project builds momentum before opening, Wagih believes that social media, particularly in a fast growing city like Cairo, is going to be the most effective way of communicating with potential customers. “Marketing and communication will be a huge challenge moving forward and social media will be a massive part of our work. This new scheme has a catchment of over ten million within a 45-minute drive time, but we have to create a whole new set of shopping habits and explain the outlet concept to a new audience,” explains Wagih. Following its successful launch at MAPIC 2019, the scheme will be showcased at MIPIM and Wagih is delighted that Prime Developments, supported by Freeport Retail, BCIstudio and Injaz Developments will be in attendance alongside the Egyptian Government as this exciting new project begins to take shape.