Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 13th 2014 Contents Trincity Mall, which celebrates
it 30th anniversary this month,
now attracts more than five
million visitors annually, said
Nicholas Hosam, general man-
ager, malls, hospitality and
resort of the HCL Group.
When Trincity Mall opened in 1984, the
world was far different from what it is today.
There was no online shopping, personal
computers still had black screens and Kir-
palani s was the dominant department store
of the day.
"We do have a confident outlook. If our
retailers are challenged, we are challenged. In
order to grow the business, we do need to
expand the mall. Certainly, the mall is per-
forming well as we are the biggest mall in the
English-speaking Caribbean, but there is room
for improvement. Over the last ten years, the
economy has been conducive to the creation
and expansion of shopping centres," he told
the Business Guardian on Monday in an inter-
view at Long Circular Mall, St James.
He said his role is to oversee the group s
two mall operations: Trincity and Long Circular
"What we know today to be Block B, the
oldest section of the mall, was the first devel-
opment of what we know as Trincity Mall. It
was a two-storey facility and housed approx-
imately 100 tenants at that time. It was
designed as part of a wider community that
was developing within Trincity and the envi-
rons. Information provided indicates Trincity
Mall was acquired by the Group when Clico
purchased the shares of Home Construction
Ltd in 1991 from private individuals."
Hosam said there has been "significant
growth" over the last few decades; Trincity
Mall now has about 304 tenants.
"The mall comprises the hub of the Trincity
Millennium Vision, which is a 400-acre devel-
opment planned community development
comprising a mix of uses, including residential,
commercial and retail. The idea that was pur-
sued by HCL is applying the concept of new
urbanism where the planning approach seeks
to have those within the social space give them
the capacity to live, work, recreate, within
their community," he said.
Hosam said the new urbanism approach is
where the social space is developed in manner
for a mix of uses by a mix of people.
"This principle has been applied in Trincity
in that 400 acres. The mall is a central feature
which allows for commercial use and has
evolved in may ways, including entertainment,
like restaurants, two well-stocked food courts
and serves the Trincity area well, that HCL
would have had a hand in developing the res-
idential area as well. There are areas for further
growth and development within that com-
He described the rates HCL offers tenants
"The rent that any operator would charge
depends on the location, the size of the space,
and the usage it will be put to. Volume space
will attract more rent than extremely small
spaces. Our criteria is not to price at the pre-
mium rate, but to be competitive and because
of this, we enjoy high occupancy rates. If a
tenant wants to rent on main street, the rent
will be generally lower. So industry rates for
tenants in malls will vary from $13 to $15 per
square foot to as high as $45 per square foot. At
the end of the day ,it is a value proposition
that the landlord and tenant have to bargain."
Hosam said despite the new malls and other
shopping centres being opened in T&T now,
it is difficult to take away market shares from
larger, more established malls like Trincity.
"There are a lot of things happening in the
industry as part of the real estate industry in
terms of new investments in planned shopping
facilities. Trincity Mall serves a community
of about 250,000 people.
"A mall in south Trinidad will be a com-
petitor, but all the major malls exist in their
own solar systems and it is very difficult to
set up a comparable mall to Gulf City in their
environment. To set up a comparable mall to
Trincity in that area will be a comparable risk
to whoever that maybe. The cost of that land
acquired many decades ago that Trincity is
on is now very high. That would be one chal-
lenge to any future developer."
Hosam said Port-of-Spain and the western
suburbs have a number of malls and shopping
centres being expanded and refurbished.
"The population within the northwest area
of Trinidad is significantly larger than the area
that Trincity occupies. This area can sustain
a larger number of players.
So if there is a new shopping mall in Maraval
or the Invaders Bay expansion project that is
something that will catch our eye in terms of
competition. So that is something we have to
address strategically from our point of view."
Main street vs malls
He spoke about the evolution from shop-
ping on "main street" concept to shopping
in malls in T&T.
"On main street, there is traffic congestion,
there are harsh penalties for wrong parking.
However, in malls, parking is basically free and
a mix of tenants. In developed countries, it is
different, people look forward to going to Man-
hattan in the downtown areas and they do not
want to go to the mall. That environment is
attractive as there are characteristics that a
mall cannot replicate. One of then popular
movements in North America now is urban
regeneration where they go into derelict neigh-
bourhoods and re-invest and create an envi-
ronment where people can live and shop. That
has been lost in Port-of-Spain."
Despite better bargains in places like down-
town Port-of-Spain, he said customers in many
cases are more inclined to malls because of
"Customers will tell you that they will get
a better deal from the main street business.
Price wise, they will shop for better bargains
there as they know they will get a better deal.
But their shopping experience may not stack
up to a controlled and organised environment
such as a mall. The mall will give you a mix
of experiences in one hub."
Hosam said online buying has impacted on
malls and conventional shopping.
"There has been a definite impact on our
retailers with the advent and phenomenal
growth of online shopping. It is replicating
what we would have seen abroad. Initially, the
retailers that would have been the first to suffer
were those selling electronic goods like phones
and laptops. Now, online shopping has become
more sophisticated and the range of products
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt NOVEMBER 2014 • WEEK TWO
30 years later...
Continued on Page 7
PHOTOS: JEFF MAYERS
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