Since the acquisition of Tamdeen Real Estate in 1996, the Tamdeen Group of Companies has grown into a driving force of development in Kuwait and a dynamic regional powerhouse. For this month’s cover story, we sat down with Tamdeen Mall Management CEO Avijit Yadav to discuss the company’s retail real estate portfolio and upcoming development pipeline.
Driven by inspirational leadership and a strategic vision, the Tamdeen Group now owns assets valued to more than $3.9 billion and has a combined paid-up capital of more than $1.3 billion. With a primary focus on retail real-estate, innovation and diversity remain the main pillars of the Group as it continues to consistently deliver growth for partners and shareholders alike.
The Group’s leading destinations include 360 Kuwait, the region’s first mixed-use sports, retail, office and leisure destination; Al Kout, Kuwait’s largest waterfront retail and leisure destination; Al Khiran Hybrid Outlet Mall, which is currently under construction and is set to become the region’s first hybrid outlet, F&B, entertainment, leisure and lifestyle destination. Other projects include Tamdeen Square, the first integrated retail and lifestyle community and the neighbourhood community centres, Sama centres and The Warehouse, which is in the early construction stages and will be positioned as a Power Centre offering a premium value shopping experience.
“At the very basic level, today’s customers look for two things: a superlative experience and solid value. The new generations, Generation Z and Generation Alpha after them, are becoming very conscious about value,” explains Avijit Yadav, CEO of Tamdeen Group. “So if you take Al Khiran for example, we are taking value through the outlet component, and experience through curated F&B, the latest entertainment concepts, large format events and leisure and are putting these together to meet the new expectations of shoppers.”
Set to be the main commercial centre of the Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City, a city the size of Manhattan, upon completion next year the project will bring together components that enable a year-long calendar of unlimited events and activations. Set across a project area of 350,000sq m, the site will be home to 70,000sq m of gross leasable area, 300 retail stores, eight cinema screens, a 1.25km landscaped park and boardwalk, a 900-berth marina (the largest in Kuwait) and 3,700 parking spaces. The project will cater to a catchment area of four million people including the approx. 2.5 million visitors from Saudi and cities in Eastern Saudi Arabia across the border. Having a unique concept that meets core shopper needs has played out well for Al Khiran Hybrid Outlet Mall with almost all anchors leased and major retail and F&B groups participating in the project.
“In all our projects, the vision is always to build Great Places and then strive to offer Exceptional Experiences in one form or another. This has always been our key point of difference and is the vision of our Owners and the Company and results in Exceptional Sales for our retailers,” says Yadav.
This vision is evident in 360 Kuwait, which launched in 2009 as a Luxury Mall with a significant luxury offering in a beautifully designed environment featuring Chihuly chandeliers, vertical gardens designed by Patric Blanc, marble, parquet and carpeted floors, water features and more. Keeping in mind changing shopper needs and expectations, in February 2020, the project evolved from being a Luxury Mall to a Lifestyle Destination, incorporating the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy with its own Gym and clubhouse, the Arena; a 5,000-capacity multi-purpose facility, the 300 key Grand Hyatt five-star hotel, the headquarters and offices of the Kuwait Tennis Federation and additional retail and parking. All these components are interconnected under the banner of the Shaikh Jaber Al Abdullah Al Jaber Al Sabah International Tennis Complex.
Yadav believes that the relationships the company has with its tenants, operators and partners are successful because they listen to each other. Whilst this may sound simple, having a healthy communication channel is a pivotal part of the strong relationships they have forged down the years.
The inspiration behind the company’s projects comes from the vision of the Chairman, Mohammed Jassim Al-Marzouq who is driven to build great places and give the best to Kuwait. “He believes that somebody must raise the bar and do things that offers the community a better experience. We do compete with bigger malls but when we speak about the special and new ideas and experiences we have brought to our projects, we are made proud and feel we have achieved something special here,” explains Yadav.
Looking ahead and to the prospect of additional concepts being added to their projects, Yadav says they are always on the lookout for additional retail concepts and an example of this is IKEA, who recently opened its first small format store in 360 Kuwait. Another was the introduction of the first Gucci Kids store in the world and in February of this year, the opening of the 360 Food Hall, the region’s first indigenously developed Food Hall with local Kuwaiti concepts, which opened to a resounding success. We keep trying to ensure our productivity is high, and that our destinations remain innovative and attractive to inventive and creative local, regional and international brands.”
Today social media is the Group’s main channel for communicating with our shoppers and stake holders. Instagram is the key app as many Kuwaitis spend most of their time on this platform and many even run their own businesses through it. Tamdeen Group projects are constantly using social media to engage with customers and potential consumers and now have a team solely working on this.
Discussing the challenges that lie ahead for the real-estate part of the Tamdeen Group, Yadav feels the pandemic is still an important challenge to be navigated. “We are not sure how Covid-19 is going to progress because it impacts the entire pipeline of vendors we work with and the quality of the people in the country, this is a major challenge we face on a daily basis,” he explains.
“If we continue to build great locations and make sure that our upcoming schemes are grade-A locations, we feel convinced we will navigate the challenges this pandemic has presented and continue to grow in the future,” Yadav concludes.