"Correctly designed right retail space results in a successful mall"

Interview with Peter Sharp, President of Walmart Asia Realty


With SAM's Club, Walmart has created a successful warehouse shopping club with a strong presence especially in China. Peter Sharp, President of Walmart Asia Realty, talks about which features shopping malls should have. He also shares his thoughts about how C-star presents the current demands regarding design, concept creation and shopfitting.

Image: Peter Sharp; Copyright: Walmart

Peter Sharp © Walmart

Mr. Sharp, what is, in your opinion, the most essential advantage of the business format Sam's Club and makes it that attractive for its members and retailers, as well?

Peter Sharp: As Sam's we serve our members by providing quality goods, both imported as well as famous Chinese brands at great prices but we also provide an exciting clean shopping environment with new products and items in our Clubs to 'surprise you'. We do appeal to the higher end demographics with our selection of prime imported fresh and frozen foods as well as Chinese and worldwide sourced fruits and vegetables.

We are always researching the members to understand what they want to buy and how they want to buy it. Our advantage is that we can quickly act to deliver on those members needs. We serve both families as well as businesses and operate a Sam's dot com business as well.

At C-star Retail Conference you are going to talk about "Membership formats in shopping mall environments". What is it all about?

Sharp: Our Sam's Club is already a well-established format worldwide and we are very successful in China - but we also note that in China most of our clubs are part of a larger shopping mall and we have developed a good following over the years with like-minded and well positioned retailers. As neighbors. We think this is part of the "appeal". These retailers are complimentary to the Sam’s Club and they also serve the A and B demographic segment of the market.

Over 80 percent of our members drive to shop at the Club. This is also very differentiated from other hypermarkets and supermarkets. So, I will be talking about how to bring elements of design to play to make the experience work for all mall visitors. So we can serve them on differentiated or complimentary shopping occasions.

Would you give us a short insight into the specialties of the Chinese retail market concerning the field of shopping centers? How do Chinese mall systems differ from those in Europe or the U.S.?

Sharp: Many of our malls in China are new and did not "grow with the community" over time, as we see typically happen in Europe, Australia or the US. They tend to start "all of a sudden" with a certain size and scale. When the developer has researched and correctly designed the right retail space to meet the community demand, the result is a successful mall. But this isn't always the outcome.

Some malls are built larger than the need of the retailers. "Right sizing" of the mall to the needs is the key point. We also have more ‘mixed use’ malls in China, combined with retail, offices, hotels or other uses. Interface with public transport does tend to be done better as the Urban areas are newer than the older parts of urban areas in Europe and the US.

Which role could C-Star play for the Chinese retail market in the future? Which retail fields could profit most from this new fair?

Sharp: Seeing Ideas. Be they old or new, they each may have a place to be used and an appeal. Sparking dialogue and sharing ideas. Showing ways that retailers and retail real estate operators use building materials, lighting, landscape and other ways to help the customers understand the items being sold of the services being offered.

Author: Natascha Mörs; EuroShop
First published at iXtenso.com