Morocco Mall spreads its wings

Groupe Askal has unveiled plans to bring its Morocco Mall brand to Rabat and Marrakesh. The original Morocco Mall opened its doors in Casablanca during 2011. It is the largest mall in Morocco (with a gross leasable area – GLA – of 70,000m²) and one of only five malls in Morocco (and 33 in Africa as a whole) with an AA rating from Sagaci Research.

Morocco Mall Rabat and Morocco Mall Marrakesh will have GLAs of 40,000m² and 10,000m², respectively. Construction work has already begun in Marrakesh, while ground is set to be broken on the Rabat project in the coming months.

Groupe Askal, which operates department stores and shopping malls (including Morocco Mall) and franchises a host of international fashion brands, is led by CEO Salwa Idriss Akhannouch, one of the most high-profile businesswomen in North African. It has partnered with Wessal Capital on both of these projects.

Wessal Capital is backed by the Moroccan Fund for Tourism Development and four Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds: Qatar Investment Authority’s Qatar Holding, the Kuwait Investment Authority’s Al Ajial Investments, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Aabar, and the Saudi Investment Fund.

The Sagaci Research View: These developments are a sign of how Moroccan mall development has matured over the past decade. Developers have learned from their mistakes (high-end malls with premium tenants that were not always a good fit for the local market) and evolved a retail model that is more economically sustainable.

These projects in Rabat and Marrakesh will provide these Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds with valuable experience in African mall development, which they could apply south of the Sahara if they decide to broaden their horizons.