As the COVID-19 virus situation begins to stabilize in China, shopping malls, which have been hit hard during the crisis, have begun rebounding. Mosaic Metro Park, managed by retail asset management expert Pradera Retail Asia, is one of the malls leading the retail recovery in Chongqing.
In April, Mosaic Metro Park saw a steady and significant increase in footfall in the mall and upswing in sales for its tenants. Turnover during the Tomb-Sweeping Holiday period in early April this year exceeded the sales during the equivalent period’s sales in 2019.
Pradera Retail Asia CEO Alison Rehill-Erguven attributes this quick recovery at the shopping centre in Chongqing to the company’s continuous upgrading of the mall as well as to an improved trade mix in the mall, especially a focused repositioning last year that led up to a relaunch in January 2020, right before the virus outbreak.
Since taking over management of the mall in 2017, Pradera Retail Asia has done a complete review of the mall and implemented strategies to upgrade the more than 100,000 square metre facility. In 2019, the centre showed the return on this strategic review through a more than 25 percent increase in sales over the previous year, with footfall climbing by an even steeper margin.
Pradera Retail Asia’s relaunch of Mosaic Metro Park at the beginning of this year, brought the mall into the year with a trading rate of 95%, a trade mix targeted to the interests of the urban centre of over 30 million people, and an improved shopping environment and services.
Starting with a Study
“The first step was real research,” Pradera Retail Asia CEO Alison Rehill-Erguven explained to Mingtiandi. “Our research told us that the community had a strong millennial base as well as young families, and once we understood this, we could get to work developing a strategy that meets their needs.”
Surveys and studies done found that over 40 percent of the visitors to the facility in Chongqing have children of pre-school age, school age or slightly older. Armed with this knowledge, PRA’s team began looking for opportunities to add value to the existing asset by providing experiences and entertainment that would stand out in the city of over 30 million people.
In enhancing the facility, Rehill-Erguven’s team set out a plan based on their research. Central to this plan was pulling in attractions and stores that would appeal to the young people and young family in the urban district and give visitors more reasons to engage with the property and its tenants.
With new businesses and experiences now operational and enhancements to the shopping layout in place as of the end of January, the mall’s round of upgrades are now complete.
Mixing Experience with Entertainment
Executing the mall makeover meant in part taking advantage of some of the ongoing disruption to the retail landscape to reshape the tenant mix and the visitor experience.
To provide more experience to customers, the mall offers great shopping with an entertaining twist. It hosts Century Star – an over 3,000 sqm national standard ice rink for ice sports professionals and fun lovers, MOCO Zoo as the first indoor Zoo in the city, and newly opened Mei KTV for music lovers as well as the city’s first internet-famous worry-free grocery store KKV welcomed by the millennial market with bestselling products and “Instagram Style” design.
The mall also spent a lot of effort on placemaking to create a more inviting and experience led shopping environment for its customers. On the L4 / L5 F&B dining area, the space has been decorated with a Nature theme where customers are immersed with elements of nature. L3 was dedicated to children and clustering the area with children’s fashion, a playground, and entertainment with interactive facilities for the young and those young at heart. On UG level, the public space was enlarged and transformed into a lively and vibrant floor now featuring the latest in fashion and accessories.
Leveraging Fashion Options
On the fashion side, the mall has replaced of some fast fashion anchor stores and breaking up the big anchor space into smaller stores with a breadth of new speciality stores to enrich the variety and offer. As an example, a fast fashion anchor store was replaced by a dozen athleisure stores such as Adidas, Puma, FILA, Vans, and Nike.
After the adjustments and upgrade, there are now over 60 fashion retailers in Mosaic Metro Park, serving the local customers with a focus on value and brands. Mosaic Metro Park not only ensures that its cost conscious millennials visiting the mall have something within their budgets, the mall also offers other fast fashion offerings alongside the more higher-end brands including Ecco, VIP shop, DKNY, Anta, DuoZouLu, LILY, Hotwind, JNBY, and CHOW TAI FOOK.
Turning More Kids into More Traffic
With the second child policy booming national-wide and as well as in Chongqing, young families comprise 42% of customers to the mall and there is a relatively even distribution of families with preschool, young/mid and older children.
“We had an opportunity to take back one floor of a department store,” Rehill-Erguven said. “So with 4,000 square metres we launched M Kids, a children themed shopping and experience area clustering children’s fashion, education, and entertainment.”
The redesigned space of L3 combined with L2 are mainly focused on Kids. The area includes a mini trampoline park as well as an ice-skating rink, MeLand which is a soft play children’s playground and a Molly Fantasy playground. The eight-store shopping centre also includes a +2000 sqm Kidswant, a one-stop shopping and service store for children and parents, while a slide offers a quicker connection from level five down into an interactive LED pool on level 4.
Getting Serious About F&B
Along with devoting a larger slice of its space to fun, Pradera Retail Asia also emphasised the mall’s dining experience – curating the food options for a city known for its spicy cuisine and its denizens’ devotion to hotpot. Mosaic Metro Park has two floors of food and beverage now, with an emphasis on providing value and variety.
“People in this area are price conscious and quality conscious,” Rehill-Erguven said. “We have Sichuan restaurants, but there’s a focus on varied cuisine and varied offers.”
Around 20 percent of the mall’s leasable area now provides food and beverage options with international standards such as Starbucks and KFC mixed in with national standard carriers such as HuangJiHuang and Nayuki Tea. To keep key opinion leaders from the community on board, fiery local brands ErDao Beef Hotpot, LiZiBa Chicken and GuoWanPiaoPeng also have a presence in the shopping centre.
Keeping It Accessible in Chongqing
The leasing strategy reflects Pradera Retail Asia’s overall emphasis on accessibility for its Chongqing project, where it leverages lessons that its team has derived from reshaping malls in Shanghai and Qingdao in addition to its northwest China project.
In Chongqing, the mall was connected directly to the city’s Metro Line 5 in 2019. “The benefit of MTR access is obvious,” Rehill-Erguven said. “On top of a significant increase in traffic, it also helped expand the mall’s business radius.” The veteran retail executive credited the rail connection, which comes in addition to the shopping centres 12 bus services, with helping contribute to the increase in visitors. Once inside the ground level, the space has been enhanced to create a larger open area, which features kiosks that promote activity and invite visitors to engage with vendors in the mall.
Look into the Future
“Being proactive has been a priority for us during this difficult time, the retail management veteran said. “We quickly formulated a strategy with the assets that revolved around safety, convenience and community. Rehill-Erguven added that, in addition to maintaining and improving the company’s already international health and hygiene standards for their tenants, customers and staff, Pradera Retail Asia has looked for further ways to support their tenants and customers.
Among the measures put in place, the company launched an online shopping platform through a mini program on WeChat, which highlights Mosaic Metro Park tenants and their merchandise.
For visitors who are unable to visit the mall, Pradera Retail Asia partnered with delivery services to distribute food, groceries, and merchandise from tenants to their customers.
“Our business is constantly evolving, so in retail you are never done,” Rehill-Erguven said. “Mosaic Metro Park is a great example of how we are always seeking to innovate our business operations and services, as we introduce new elements and initiatives each year which we do at all of our projects to keep pace with the needs of local consumers.”
This sponsored feature was created on behalf of Pradera Retail Asia. To find out more about the project or the company, visit Pradera Retail Asia website.