The Point's new retail experience
Malta's largest mall, the €60 million The Point, part of Sliema's Tigné Point development, will open at the end of the month to introduce a new retail experience to Malta.
The Point's 14,000 square metres of rentable space is to be occupied by 49 retail units, many of which are flagship stores of well-known global brands already established locally and a host of new names making their debut in Malta.
Among them is the 2,500-square metre Debenhams store, besides a collection of international fashion brands. At the lower level, Chains supermarket will take up 1,800 square metres with what promises to be a high quality, diversified proposition.
According to Ben Muscat, chief executive officer of Tigné Point developer Midi plc, most of the stores, which average over 200 square metres in size, will be fully operational on the opening date. Meanwhile, the newest tenants are committed to come on stream as soon as possible - by Easter all units should be in business.
The interior of The Point has been designed by award-winning GMW Architects of London, who have been entrusted with projects such as the Midsummer Place Shopping Centre in Milton Keynes, the Hans Christian Andersen multi-arena park in Copenhagen, and Ankara's Armada Shopping Centre. Design and co-ordination phases were completed overseas and the London team has been collaborating with architectural practice AOM Partnership, the lead consultants to the Midi project.
"One aspect of The Point's design brief was the creation of a sense of space," Mr Muscat told The Sunday Times. "It is very easy to fall into the temptation to try to maximise space to create more retail units. That comes at a cost in terms of the balance between the space created and the value of that space, particularly as far as rental value is concerned. At whichever level you are at The Point, all the other levels are in full view thanks to the wide atrium and the ample circulation space."
Franchisees have been able to satisfy their franchisors' requisites and some have introduced additional lines of the brands they represent to Malta.
Mr Muscat pointed out that all tenants at the mall are Maltese. Entrepreneurs have endeavoured to invest millions of euros in shop fits and new jobs, and The Point's management has been encouraged by the take-up of retail units at comparably high rents. It was evidence, Mr Muscat believed, that Maltese business confidence is high despite the economic climate.
The Point's plan and elevation has been designed to maximise visitor flow. The major footfall, Mr Muscat explained, will originate from Tigné Point's Pjazza Tigné or through the retail centre's core: The Point will be served by over 1,000 basement car parking spaces including ample allocation for car parking for disabled people.
Vehicular traffic access is facilitated by the incorporated parking amenities, but, Mr Muscat emphasised, the design of the planned traffic circulation system for Sliema, which has yet to be finalised, will also be a crucial factor.
"Malta needs to avoid the creation of yet more sleeper towns or concentrations of pure commercial activity," Mr Muscat said. "Tigné Point is a peninsula in Sliema, a bustling commercial destination with a considerable residential component, so it was a natural evolution of Sliema for Tigné Point to have a strong commercial element."
The chief executive officer acknowledges that some members of the Sliema business community may consider Tigné Point undesirable competition. Objectively, however, The Point could potentially spur the continuation of the constant upgrade of Sliema's retail proposition.
The developers are particularly excited that come the end of March, the public will have access to Tigné Point for the very first time. The substantial public aspect of the project is about to come on stream and it will welcome considerable numbers of visitors in comfort and ease.
Mr Muscat thinks Tigné Point has much to offer the local community.
"The Point is not a retail centre in isolation - it is part of something larger, something that was always envisaged as a mixed-use holistic destination," he explained. "Pjazza Tigné will be commissioned in May and, following this, Fort Tigné will then be launched as the first heritage and leisure destination in Sliema. For the first time, tourists will have a cultural reason to visit Sliema."
Meanwhile, Tigné Point's clubhouse will unveil its second catering offering in April. Kitchen Concepts, the creative restaurant operator which has successfully launched Wagamama and Vecchia Napoli to the local market, will launch a new concept within the development in the next few weeks, its second after Mediterranean restaurant Salini opened in December.