Solidere inaugurated Beirut Souks to great pomp at the end of 2010. Even though it is still early to judge the center’s performance three years after its launching, it is undeniable that the Souks have become the leading luxury address in Lebanon, in continuity with leading international brand names already established in the Foch-Allenby area. The jewelry corner with some of the most exclusive high-end names make Beirut Stouks a highly select destination that seduces the local and expatriate moneyed elite.
Architectural & Other Attractions
Regardless of the political and social criticism that Beirut Souks may attract, the project is a novel architectural attraction that combines traditional architectural elements with fresh modern lines and that weaves an attractive pattern of open and enclosed alleys. Beirut Souks were built to the highest architectural standards with state-of-the-art materials – from roof tiles to cladding materials, floor tiles…. It has also integrated several archaeological sites and artworks into its layout. Unfortunately, however, these gems often go unnoticed by passing shoppers. Beirut Souks has recently inaugurated its cinema complex offering 14 movie theatres, which adds to the diversity of the center’s offering and boosts its attraction potential.
Exclusive Niche Catchment Area
The launching of Beirut Souks in 2010 has not modified the ranking of the existing supply of shopping malls in Beirut. The Souks cater to a very specific niche market, without directly competing with the market share of existing malls. Beirut Souks does not compete with ABC Ashrafieh, CityMall, or Beirut City Center. The Souks’ main catchment area is Ras Beirut and BCD and it caters predominately to the moneyed local and expatriate elite, while existing malls cater to a middle- to upper-middle market clientele. The opening of ABC Verdun, planned for 2017, may change this, however, as it will target specifically the Souks’ main Beiruti customer base.
A Few Clouds in Beirut Souks’ Blue Sky
The overall occupancy rate is very satisfactory. In our estimate, it revolves around 90%. Not all the shopping axes have the same footfall, however. Pedestrian flux is mostly concentrated along the wide shopping avenues, while the smaller side alleys are much less visited. During the first several months after Beirut Souks’ launching, several boutiques, particularly on these secondary alleys, had to shut down. This is not uncommon in new malls the world over. Vacated locales on the main traffic axes were quickly taken up again, but the less popular side alleys are slower to attract new tenants. Another, darker blot is the limited F&B supply. Beirut Souks indeed count 16 F&B outlets, which represent roughly 10% of the total available supply. This ratio is much lower than that found at other malls and shopping centers in town.
Rental Values:The Big Unknown
Rental values at Beirut Souks are a very well kept secret! The Souks’ price grid is measured against the pedigree of the brand. It is no surprise that large retail groups that carry tens or hundreds of brands – the likes of TSG with Aizone, Camper, Chloe, etc. or Azadea Group with tremendous footfall generators like Zara, Massimo Dutti, or Gap, are greatly courted and pampered by Solidere. Together, these two groups operate more than 25 boutiques, so any disagreement would have disastrous repercussions on Beirut Souks. Rental values are thus tailor-made to the size and clout of the customer. They are highly confidential and very jealously guarded by Solidere and Beirut Souks tenants alike. A very rough estimate places the average rental value at around USD 1,000 per SQM per year – a purely indicative figure.
Beirut Souks – at a Glance
- Total number of outlets (excluding F&B) 154
- Number of F&B outlets 16
- Clothing & fashion boutiques (men, women, and children) 86
- Watches & Jewelry & Accessories boutiques 55
- Health & Beauty 6
- Other (home ware, books, multi-media…) 7