THE BIG EVENT

Kazakhstan 2015 | TOURISM & RETAIL | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to, Engin Asralan, General Manager of Khan Shatyr, on the rapid development of the country's high end retail sector, introducing new concepts to the market, and staying ahead of the competition.

Engin Asralan
BIOGRAPHY
Engin Asralan studied economics in Turkey before starting in the retail sector. In 1991 he was hired as a director for the Beymen and Vakko brands. In 2010 he started working in management at Khan Shatyr, and currently serves as the General Manager.

What is the importance of Khan Shatyr for the Kazakh Retail Sector?

Before the opening of Khan Shatyr shopping center in July 2010, we wanted international brands to be better represented in our retail system. We began discussions with some of the leading brands to set up shop at our retail center in Astana. Inditex, which is one of the largest groups in the world with brands like Zara, Massimo Dutti, and Bershka, decided to join us. Other international brands like Gap, Lacoste, and Armani Jeans decided to use Khan Shatyr as a platform to represent their products in Kazakhstan. Before Khan Shatyr opened, these brands were not in the market. And even though some international brands were available in Almaty prior to Khan Shatyr, these brands were not widely available elsewhere in the country. Khan Shatyr changed the retail landscape of Kazakhstan.

What are the specific factors that make Khan Shatyr unique?

The idea came from the President, who broached the idea to Sir Norman Foster, and the unique construction of the mall undertaken by Sembol Construction Company. It is a symbol of not only Astana but Kazakhstan as well. People now associate Khan Shatyr with Kazakhstan much like they would associate the Eiffel Tower with France. Not only is the mall housed in a unique building, it is also the biggest shopping center in Kazakhstan. The total area is 125,000 sqm and GLA is 55,000 sqm. We have approximately 210 tenants. Our success is not due to the look or the size of the building alone, but also its function. Khan Shatyr contains a beach club and an approximately 4,000 sqm children's entertainment center. We have cinemas and convenient parking, as well as premier parking.

Khan Shatyr is characterized by flexible spaces that can accommodate a variety of events: in that regard, what kind of events are you organizing to promote Khan Shatyr?

We organize almost 50 events per year here at Khan Shatyr. Two Sundays out of the month, the national orchestra puts on a concert in the main atrium. There are also many events for children, which get them involved through songs and games. Most of our main events are held in the atrium. Customers who spend more than 20,000 tenge in one day at Khan Shatyr can participate in a lottery, where they might win a trip to an international destination. We are trying to provide incentives to shop, but also to enjoy the cosmopolitan lifestyle that we are promoting here. Four times a year we also do night shopping, where major discounts are given. From 5% to 10% of the 800,000 residents of Astana show up during these shopping nights, which usually take place during February, June, August, and December. On a monthly basis, we also distribute a special magazine where we provide coverage of sports, local and international news, and tourism. In addition, we host the “Miss Khan Shatyr" competition, which is popular throughout the CIS states. We also hold raffles for cars and getaways at Rixos Hotels.

As competition in the industry increases here in Astana, how are you positioned to maintain a leading position in the retail sector?

In Astana there are eight shopping centers, and Khan Shatyr is the largest. The second biggest is only half the size of Khan Shatyr. Considering the weather that characterizes Astana, if people are not working or resting at home they are looking for entertainment, or something to do to over the weekend, and we are positioned to provide leisure activities, good restaurants, and international brands to our clients. For these reasons, Khan Shatyr will retain its status as the preferred shopping center in Astana.