Shopping Centers Today International

DEC 2015

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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134 S C T / D e c e m b e r 2 0 1 5 will cover some 1.9 million square feet of gross leasable area. "From a broad overview, there's been a strong appetite for shopping center development in Iran for the last five, six years," said McArthur, who has been involved in the Middle East retail market for nearly two decades. "The idea of filling a modern retail shopping center today in Iran, to try to get to a million square feet or over, would be extremely challenging, because there are not enough shopping-center-type brands operating to fill a center like that." Despite this, Iranian investors have been hiring architects and study- ing mall development in other coun- tries. "They've been talking to brands from around the world," McArthur said. "But it's not until the sanctions are officially over that anybody can of- ficially execute." Iran could gain control of nearly $100 billion in frozen assets parked around the world, The New York Times reports. And The Wall Street Journal has dubbed Iran "Turkey with oil." Some 60 percent of its people are younger than 35, the country's literacy rate is about 85 percent, and roughly a third of the population uses the Internet. "Since the political changes occurring in the late 1970s, two generations have grown up in Iran with little patience or understanding of the isolation they have endured for decades with the rest of the world," said David Macadam, CEO of the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres. The Iranian young population is hungry for consumer products of every sort, he says. Fascination with the West is pal- pable — and perhaps even shameless, as a glance inside any popular shop- ping mall in Iran will prove. There is Pizza Hot, for starters, which rips off the Pizza Hut logo and then rubs it in further with the slogan "Share a Slice of Hope"; there is a burger joint called Mash Donald's, complete with a mas- cot bearing a suspicious resemblance to Ronald McDonald; and there is Kentucky House, a fast-food chicken chain with a certainly familiar-sounding name. An article in The New Yorker magazine notes that one of Tehran's chic new restaurants is The Manhattan Grill, which has Heinz ketchup bottles on the tables, and posters of such sports stars as Tiger Woods on the walls. On the luxury front, executives of jeweler-watchmaker Bulgari, of Italy, and watchmaker Breitling, of Switzer- land, are said to be eager to capitalize on the growing affluence in Iran — a mere hop across the Persian Gulf from their boutique outposts in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In short, the potential is tantalizingly clear to all who have any interest in the region, notes McArthur: "The market in Iran is huge." S C T

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