The Business Year

Albert Montaner

General Manager, Altaplaza Mall

Luí­s Javier Rí­os Hoyos

General Manager, FELIX

Retail centers in Panama are constantly looking for ways to enhance customer experience through top product offerings, events for all age groups, and high-quality service.

How did the company perform in 2017?

ALBERT MONTANER We managed to increase the number of visitors from 3.5 million to 5 million. That is a good increase for two straight years, and the numbers are projected to jump for 2018 as well; however, we have noticed, from the data we have collected, that the average money spent by a customer has reduced in 2017 as compared to 2016. The same trend is being experienced by other retail businesses in Panama.

LUÍS JAVIER RÍOS HOYOS Our fiscal year is July-June. The results for FELIX in general have been great; our growth has surpassed the growth of the Panamanian economy. 2018 also shows excellent growth rates, which is due to several reasons, such as excellent management. We were also recovering from a rough patch in 2016, which has resulted in significant growth. We hope to see great results in 2019 as well.

Altaplaza Mall received the 2017 Gold Award in the New Design and Development category of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Awards in Latin America. What does this mean for the company?

AM ICSC is the highest international association for shopping malls across the world. We topped its segment for Latin America. Other than the categories we won, it has awards for marketing and new concepts. ICSC recognized Altaplaza because of our design, occupancy at opening, and type of brands present in our mall. By winning the award, we were automatically nominated for ICSC’s Best of the Best Global VIVA Awards in Las Vegas. We do not want to add “more of the same.” We concentrate our efforts marketing Altaplaza as a family experience. There has to be always something for everyone. We are regularly planning events for different age groups. These events are aimed at attracting the target population and providing it with an enjoyable experience. Also, our team focuses on doing new events. For example, for the FIFA World Cup we created a virtual stadium to watch the matches. We are looking for new and differentiating concepts in food, shopping, and entertainment.

What is your expansion strategy, not only in terms of stores, but also other markets?

LJRH We look at it from three fronts. First, we want to have an excellent mix of products in our stores. Our mix of brands sets us apart from other department stores. They are modern, current stores, with special lighting and displays. There is excellent participation from the main providers that personalize each brand, which gives customers a different experience. We have high-quality products. The culture of service in FELIX has always been valued by Panamanians. We also want additional services in our stores. For example, we recently opened a service in partnerships with El Corte Ingles, called El Corte Ingles travel. It is operational in Via España and Alta Plaza. We will also open a store in Chiriquí­ in the new Federal Mall. That store should open by the end of 2019. Also, in 2018 we will launch our e-commerce initiative.

What are your goals and priorities for the year ahead?

AM We have to maintain two things: our good service and quality and increase our customer traffic. Other than that, we are aiming to bring at least two differentiating world-class brands and several new restaurants. These new additions will act as anchors for the overall business by maintaining our customers and attracting new. There are still many people who do not know Altaplaza. Our aim is to not only bring in new customers, but to also increase our customer retention rate. A mall takes time to establish a customer base and Altaplaza still has room to grow.

LJRH Our main objective is for FELIX to continue to grow in the coming years and to ensure it continues to be the most loved brand that provides benefits to all, and not just shareholders. We have 1,050 employees. I would love it if people saw FELIX as a great company to work for. However, the main objective is for the company to grow, with excellent practices and developing human talent.



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