Timezone adds buzz to mall makeovers
As mall landlords look to transform traditional shopping centres into "living centres", there has been a rapid-fire expansion in the number of entertainment and lifestyle venues leasing out space once earmarked for department stores and fashion outlets.
Landlords see this shift in tenant mix as a way to not only internet-proof their centres but to provide a wider array of "experience offerings" to entice consumers to spend more time at malls.
The latest example of this trend is The Entertainment and Education Group's (TEEG) opening of a Kingpin bowling alley at a Canberra shopping centre this week.
Scott Blume, the Singapore-based managing director of TEEG, says landlords are now calling "almost daily' to talk to the group about leasing space in their centres.
"We are in the serious business of fun and shopping centre landlords acknowledge our venues are a low-cost way of driving up footfall into the malls," Mr Blume said.
"We are seeing increasing demand for leisure- and experience-based venues in shopping centres and other large format retail centres across the Asia Pacific as developers move to accommodate more retail and lifestyle tenants," Mr Blume said.
TEEG, the largest operator of family entertainment venues in the Asia Pacific region, operates four brands: Kingpin, Timezone, Timezone Play ‘N’ Learn and Zone Bowling.
The group is expanding rapidly, with the Canberra Kingpin outlet marking its 50th opening for the year and 50 more are planned for 2020. It also launched Timezone venues in Maroochydore and Cairns in December and recently opened centres in the Philippines, Hanoi, Vietnam, India and New Zealand. TEEG has also opened 14 new Play ‘N’ Learn indoor playground venues in 2019.
In another example of a major shopping centre landlord embracing more interactive tenants, Vicinity Centres is teaming up with Fortress Esports to launch the Southern Hemisphere’s first video gaming and esports entertainment venue, which is due to open at the Emporium Melbourne in early 2020.
Fortress Melbourne will offer an Australian-first entertainment experience, with a 200-seat purpose-built esports arena, more than 160 gaming PCs, console gaming suites, dedicated streamer pods, an RPG and tabletop game play area, function rooms, a full-service restaurant and two bars all under one roof.
Vicinity Centres chief development officer Carolyn Viney said the group is always looking at "new, unique experiences to offer our customers and with the global phenomenon of esports rapidly gaining fans in Australia, Emporium Melbourne’s city location makes it the obvious choice for an esports arena and gaming venue that will cater to all audiences".
Centre chief executive Peter Allen, who calls his Westfield malls "living centres", says "we have curated a major shift towards experience-based offerings, which now represent 42 per cent of our portfolio".
Mr Blume said TEEG has a strong pipeline across the country and the greater Asia Pacific region for 2020.
"We are the next generation of what the landlords call mini-major stores, where we can lease upwards of 3000 square metres of space and generate strong returns," Mr Blume said.
This article was published in The Sydney Morning Herald on 18 December 2019