Braving the financial storm, Landmark Group re-launched its Centrepoint concept in the region with an overall spend of more than Dh10 million in the last quarter of 2008, said a senior executive of the group.
Following an initial introduction of Centrepoint in 2005, the shopping outlet that has four of the leading concepts of the group under a common umbrella, has grown into 52 outlets in the region covering floor space of more than 2.5 million square feet.
Explaining the objective behind the concept, Jayesh Ravindranath, Head of Corporate Marketing at Landmark and also the Head of Marketing for Centrepoint, said: "Centrepoint was formed with the objective of unifying four of our core concept brands – Babyshop, Shoe Mart, Splash and Lifestyle – under a single identity. A shopping destination where the customers could shop under the same roof for a complete range of fashionable and quality apparel, footwear, children's needs and lifestyle products – for the entire family, giving real consumer value and a rewarding experience."
With the first Centrepoint store opening in Kuwait in August 2005, there was a string of roll-outs thereafter across the Gulf Co-operation Council, covering key markets such as the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan. In Saudi Arabia the brand was known as CityPlaza.
The launch timing was well planned, but the fire that destroyed the Landmark-owned Oasis Centre in Dubai did put extra pressure on the people behind the project.
However, they worked overtime to fill the niche that Oasis had created.
With the advent of malls across the Middle East and the GCC in particular, offering a large format environment where shoppers could get a multitude of products all under one roof made imminent sense.
The creation of Centrepoint became more of a business need than business expansion and today it continues to be an attractive business proposition for the group. However, creating a niche in an urgency left scope for improvement and Landmark wanted to maintain its grip on the segment.
"After the initial launch of the concept, we felt the brand was a bit jaded and was starting to look 'regular'," said Ravindranath.
"In addition there have been rapid changes in the retail environment across the GCC, with new malls and new brands coming into the market. With our constant tracking of the market and management reviews, the company felt the need to revamp and revitalise the brand.
"Our research showed us an opportunity area and a 'need gap' with consumers that existed. It was then that our Chairman Micky Jagtiani mandated that we needed to invest in the Centrepoint brand now and for the future. He in fact took the bold and what we believe was a visionary step to mandate a doubling of the number of Centrepoint stores across the Middle East in five years."
It was in early 2007 that the work on the revamp and re-launch of Centrepoint started. A core team was put together, which reviewed all aspects of the brand. From the construction of the brand as a destination of four key brands of Landmark – Babyshop, Shoe Mart, Splash and Lifestyle – to the look and feel of the store, the layout, the movement of consumers through the stores, right through to new brand graphics and colours. In the process the entire communication of the brand across all consumer touch points – in store, out of store, media – above-the-line and below-the-line were reviewed.
The roll-out of the new Centrepoint identity has been done in a phased manner across the 52 stores in the GCC, starting off with Saudi Arabia then across the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan.
Raavindranath said: "Giv-en the size and dimension of our stores and the geographic spread the changes have been gradual. Where the stores were up for renovation the entire store was changed to the new look created for Centrepoint. In others the changes have been implemented gradually."
The new logo with four-colour band rings like a target with the four sub brands linked to the Centrepoint brand name is distinct, said Ravindranath.
"The development of the new logo was a challenge in itself. We needed to create something that was away from the old logo, distinctive and different and easy to apply across all touch points," he added.
Rahul Nagpal, Chief Executive Officer of The Classic Partnership, the advertising agency handling the Centrepoint brand amo-ngst other Landmark brands, said: "We needed to create a graphic unit that besides representing the mother brand and its four sub-brands was singularly distinctive and yet something that was easily identifiable and applicable on all consumer touch points. It also required the unit to be easy to execute on various surfaces and materials without compromising on the visibility, appeal and effect of communication."
In support of the logo's message, Ravindranath said: "We believe that in time to come the logo will become iconic and will be highly recognisable and an integral part of the entity that is Centrepoint. In fact our entire mission has been to build a brand that consumers can relate to and will 'buy' into.
"Building a brand is a long-term process that is comprehensive. It has to take into account all aspects of consumer behaviour and desires. You then build around those very values and create an entity that is rewarding for both consumers and the brand owners," he added.
As a yardstick of its success, Centrepoint announced the relaunch with sales in the emirate and an overwhelming response recorded sales of up to a Dh1 million a day, which was never been recorded in the past, according to an executive of the group.