As Tbilisi Mall is situated at the outskirts of the city, traditional shopping streets’ reps consider the distance to the Mall to be their main advantage. Meanwhile officials at Tbilisi Mall name the lower prices and world brands available under their roof to be their advantage.
Tbilisi Mall was opened on April 7, 2012. It incorporates seventeen of the world’s most recognisable fashion brands, including Pull and Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius and Oysho and Zara. Gap, New Yorker and Banana Republic will soon be available too. In total Retail Group plans to bring forty brands to Tbilisi Mall.
“During the first two weeks since the opening of Tbilisi Mall we saw that there were almost no customers in Kotton. Then we went to Tbilisi Mall and saw the queues at the cashiers and the stores full of customers. But this boom is over now,” said Salome Isiani, Marketing Manager at Kotton.
“I cannot say that the Mall is our competitor. Our store is full of customers throughout the whole week as people come here from all the banks, offices and universities which are located on Chavchavadze Avenue. Mostly it is those professional people who work who are the same people who go shopping. And people who work do not have enough time to visit Tbilisi Mall in the working week,” she added.
“According to our statistics about 300 customers enter Kotton every day. Out of 300 customers at least 20 percent are real buyers. One of our customers buys on average items to the value of 2,000 GEL during the year,” she added.
“We wanted to rent a store in Tbilisi Mall but the cost of rent there is very high. We are not sure that only weekends’ sales can give us enough profit to risk opening a Kotton store there,” she added.
“Despite the fact that unlike us s the newly-entered brands are mass-oriented, one part of our customers have switched to the newly opened stores,” said Natia Ninidze, brand manager for Hugo Boss and Ermenegildo Zegna with Victoria 98 Ltd, which consists of high-end and premium brands.
“Mass-oriented brands did not exist in Georgia before now and it was necessary to bring them here. I admit that lots of customers do now shop in Tbilisi Mall but we have our loyal client base and their number is increasing. Mostly tourists from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey and Ukraine are our clients. Our advantage is that we offer only one item of clothing in each size and our collection is not massive, so there is competition to acquire our clothing. Also there is a huge scope of difference in quality between our stores and all the other ones,” she added.
“It is usual for a new store to attract a large amount of customers, but it is not directly proportional to the number of our customers,” said Irakli Mkervalishvili, Marketing Manager at ADress LTD.
ADress is one of the biggest Georgian multi-brand companies, incorporating Gerry Weber, Tom Taylor, Promod, Celio and other brands. ADress intensified its marketing campaign recently by offering mid-season discounts, but compared to the same period of last year, the company is experiencing a decrease in customer numbers.
“To maintain the loyalty of customers the most important thing is to offer them the best combination of quality, price and good service. Pekini is the most popular street for shopping amongst Georgian shoppers. Tbilisi Mall is at the edge of the city, so people cannot go shopping there anytime they want. Still, we do not rule out the possibility of opening a store in Tbilisi Mall. Now we are observing whether it is marketing-approved to run a store there or not,” he added.
“If customers are oriented at more unusual style of clothes, then the stores at Tbilisi mall will not suit them. Almost every store there offers the same casual clothes style,” said Natia Shavishvili, Marking Manager at NafNaf.
“In general Georgians do not like it when someone else is wearing the same clothes as them. That is why Tbilisi Mall’s stores cannot be so popular in Georgia. We have a limited number of clothes at NafNaf and we offer many different styles,” she added.
“I guess that the increased competition has impacted on the stores located in the centre of Tbilisi . People have started shopping here and other stores are in all probability seeing a lack of customers,” said Irma Tabatadze, Marketing Manager at Retail Group, which represents its stores in Tbilisi Mall.
“Since we opened our first stores in Tbilisi Mall all the stores have been full of customers. The number of customers has exceeded our expectation. Our strategy is to offer discounts, new collections, and the stores of new brands to the customers so as not to lose them,” she added.
Tabatadze explains that the reason why people go shopping in Tbilisi Mall is that this is the first mall in Georgia of such a scale. “This is a place where customers are able to buy everything in one place and in a very comfortable way. Georgians previously ordered online or used to travel abroad for the famous brands which we have now brought to them,” she added.
“Most people come to Tbilisi Mall to shop at the weekend. The number of customers is gradually increasing. We have not provided the statistics yet, but I can say that after a month we have more customers then we had on the opening day. Customers confess that the prices at Tbilisi Mall are much more affordable than in the other stores. Prices start at 15 GEL,” she added.