It is undoubtedly the biggest shopping mall in Africa, and probably around the Mediterranean.
It is the “Morocco Mall,” which recently opened with great fanfare in Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco, in the presence of no less than 80 journalists from all over the world, including the special correspondent of African Manager.
It is a new generation of the so-called destination malls. There is no better than the Project Director, architect Philippe De Fraiteur to speak about this project.
We say and repeat everywhere that the “Morocco Mall” is a grandiose project. In what way is it?
It is, first, in terms of its figures that the uniqueness of this project should be judged. It required an investment of 200 million Euros, and construction works, which began in 2007, involved 100,000 workers. Located along the Atlantic Ocean, the Morocco Mall spans 10 hectares with 250,000 square meters of built area, 30,000 square meters of outdoor space and 14,000 sqm of landscaped gardens. Another distinctive feature of the Morocco Mall: it is the first mall with a beach front. We do not know a similar one built on the same location in the world.
Like the finest existing malls in the Middle East or North America, the Morocco Mall offers visitors a unique and magical experience, mixing shopping, leisure and catering, to be lived with friends or the family in an innovating architectural concept. Much more than a traditional shopping center, the Morocco Mall is a real place to live. It seeks to position itself as an ultimate experience, worthy of the greatest fashion capitals with a wide range of shopping and recreation unique in Africa and services comparable to the most luxurious hotels.
More than 600 international brands will be represented in the Morocco Mall and its 350 retail outlets. The offer includes clothing (women, men and children) from mid-range to luxury, household equipment, cultural goods and electronics. The Morocco Mall will host the first store of the Galeries Lafayette in Africa, of FNAC and also of prestigious luxury brands, bringing to Morocco a new wider offer for all consumers.
Do not you think that a project of this size is not consistent with the economic size of the city that houses it, Casablanca, or with the purchasing power of its inhabitants and those of Morocco?
Let us first put the question in the context of Morocco as economic potential. The country is currently in an exceptional growth cycle with a discontinuous rate revolving around 6%. Morocco hosts 10 million tourists a year. As shown, the economy is immune to the economic crisis in the world, especially countries of the European Union.
And then, as a leading economic actor, the Morocco Mall has a significant socioeconomic impact on the region of Casablanca and will continue to strongly boost the local job market.
A total of 5,000 jobs, including 500 assigned to the management of the mall are created directly by the Morocco mall, while 21,000 indirect jobs will be generated by activities of the Morocco mall.
By bringing to Casablanca and to Morocco a new concept and a new offer, the Morocco Mall transforms consumer relationships and the urban landscape both economically and culturally, with the aim of revitalizing the Cornice while respecting the environment: materials with sophisticated finishing sublimate a building with soft lines, which adapts perfectly to its marine environment.
Finally, it is expected that the mall will attract 14 million visitors both domestic and foreign. And this is intended to stimulate economic activity and trade channels.
What are your areas for expansion both domestically and more in the region. Are you planning to include such countries as Tunisia in your development strategies?
We have already decided on our strategy to expand within the borders of Morocco. Our priorities relate to malls, smaller of course, to be created in major cities such as Rabat, Marrakech …
With regard to our international expansion, it is the Maghreb region that will be our sphere of new settlements. Tunisia is in a good position thanks to its new situation and the potential and opportunities it can offer.
Which financial channels helped achieve the investment architecture of this huge project?
The Morocco Mall is the result of a partnership between two major groups: Aksal Group of Morocco and Al Jedaie Group of Saudi Arabia.
Aksal Group, founded in the early 2000s by its Chief Executive Officer, Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch, has managed, in a decade, to stand as a national leader of its many industries by deploying large-scale projects with high value added to the Kingdom of Morocco.
Armed with its 1,500 employees, most of them Moroccans, but also from 20 other nationalities, Aksal Group, has developed this wealth, while keeping committed to its values of the 100% Moroccan group.
As for the Al-Jedaie group, it controls a significant market share in “ready-made” clothing with its famous brand Al Aseel. In addition, the group is a major player in the “retail” market being the franchisee of more than 25 international brands owned by Nesk.
Capitalizing on its long experience in textiles, the group has specialized in fabric for men and is now considered the leader in this market and Al-Jedaie men’s textile Co. Direct provides customers with a quality fabric.
The Group first invested in the Saudi real estate sector, thus allowing access to many prime locations in several cities of the Kingdom, which led to the creation of a new real estate company.
The Group owns shopping centers and office complexes in major cities, which facilitates access to the best locations for our brands.
There is a third partner. It is Nesk, which was founded in 2000, as part of the development plan aimed to cover the North Africa region. The brands acquired in Morocco include Mango, Aldo, and Okaidi and La vie en rose. In 2006, Nesk got a prime location in Algeria in order to open the first stores of Mango and Okaidi.