Set in the heart of Paola, Main Street Shopping Complex has become the leading shopping mall in the south of Malta since it opened in 2004 – and it has continued to perform positively through the first half of 2022, according to its latest results.
The four-storey shopping destination is home to a vast selection of affordable local and international brands all under one roof, offering fashion and accessories, jewellery, toys, gadgets, home décor, beauty products and much more for customers of all ages. Add to this Main Street’s entertainment and leisure facilities – such as a 450sqm Laser Tag arena, a rooftop terrace café, a large Bingo Hall, and a hairdressing salon, as well as its underground car park facilities – and it is easy to see why Main Street is so enduringly popular.
Even with the inevitable impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world’s retail market, Main Street Shopping Complex continues to perform well, highlights Bettina Azzopardi as Main Street’s CEO.
“Considering the pressures that the sector has faced over the past two years, our general retail performance in the first half of 2022 was relatively positive,” she says. “The start of the year was tough due to the then-high number of COVID cases in Malta, which kept many customers away from their usual leisure routines. At the time, our largest retail space in the complex – 930sqm previously occupied by Debenhams – was still under refurbishment by the new brands that opened in it in the spring.”
Midway through 2022, however, Ms Azzopardi notes that the situation has improved. “As the number of COVID cases started to drop, we noticed a steady increase in footfall and sales figures across a number of shops.
“Our aim is now to close the gap to our pre-pandemic levels – and we are steadily getting there.”
Indeed, according to results announced at this year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), Main Street’s footfall figures now approach those of 2019 – the complex’s strongest year since opening, with almost one million visitors. Today, its occupancy rate is at 98.5%, with the goal of reaching 100% as soon as possible. “This shows remarkable loyalty among our customers who, despite the various challenges, continue to choose Main Street,” says Ms Azzopardi. “It also proves that Main Street remains one of the leading shopping destinations in the south of Malta.”
As Main Street Complex plc is a public listed company, the Board of Directors and the management team pay constant attention to profitability, which is performing well and is in line with 2022. “This requires on-going monitoring of costs and a focus on improving the retail experience to enhance sales,” she shares. “We held a physical AGM in May, giving shareholders the opportunity to raise questions and discuss the business face-to-face with the Board and management. We have a commitment towards our esteemed shareholders, who we believe are key players in this company.”
In fact, Main Street Complex plc’s strong financial position, along with its debt-free status, enabled it to manage the adverse conditions that accompanied COVID-19, while the company prioritised constant communication with its diverse group of tenants to help them weather the storm.
Main Street’s strong relationship with its tenants and brands also helped to overcome another major challenge: the rise of ecommerce. “Customers today are bombarded with online options,” Ms Azzopardi points out. “Nonetheless, we saw in recent months that, despite more people shopping online throughout the pandemic, there was a swift return to the bricks-and-mortar experience once things improved. Main Street and our brands must ensure that our in-store service retains its high quality approach, to continue to encourage people to physically visit the mall. We believe that ecommerce works as a complement to a physical shopping experience and not necessarily as an alternative.”
The quality ‘physical shopping experience’ at Main Street has meanwhile seen it welcome new brands in recent months. In March, IM Home opened a 360sqm shop on the second floor, with stylish home décor items and accessories. Renowned Swedish fashion brand Lindex also opened a two-floor store in April, with fashion, lingerie and cosmetics for women and inspiring collections for children and babies.
“We are currently in negotiations with another retail brand for Main Street, which will be new to the island,” reveals Ms Azzopardi, as she gives a glimpse of what the future holds for Main Street. “We base our strategy on four key factors to reach our success: comfort, diversity, affordability and convenience. Our objective is always to offer customers the best mix of affordable brands in a comfortable and pleasant environment, so we are keeping an eye on new brands and opportunities to enhance our offering and help us meet market demands. We have plans to improve the layout of the spaces and embellish the centre in the coming years, while maximising the potential of the premises in line with changes in retail and leisure trends.”
Main Street Shopping Complex’s unbeatable location is also top of our upcoming agenda, Ms Azzopardi concludes. “We will continue to form an intrinsic part of the commercial and social aspect of Paola, as it continues to develop as one of the largest commercial hubs on the island. We will also work closely with MCAST, which is only a few minutes’ walk away,” she says. “The future is exciting, and we look forward to welcoming millions more customers to Main Street.”