With a positive growth rate, the Middle East is placing an increased focus on developing a number of key markets to attract increased investment, boost tourism and promote economic growth. Developments consist of a number of communal and leisure spaces, retail facilities, restaurants and parks, but there are also a number of key areas within the communal and leisure space which are slowly rising and increasing competition within the Middle East.
Launched back in 1999, Landmark Leisure Group has become a brand which now dominates the leisure and entertainment market for young children, providing exciting, educational spaces for children to develop key skills, socialise and thrive. Part of the multinational conglomerate Landmark Group, Landmark Leisure has locations across the GCC and India, with over a thousand employees and over 40 different nationalities, creating an environment which is multicultural and diverse.
Providing children with beneficial learning and entertaining spaces is Chief Operating Officer Silvio Liedtke. Amongst the Group’s expansion plans, Liedtke is also behind the development and subsequent launch of two further brands later on this year. “These brands will focus on youth and adults, completing the Group’s portfolio for entertaining for any age and for any desire,” he adds enthusiastically. Home to four main brands, Fun City, Fun Ville, Fun Block and Fun Works, Liedtke explains that the Group’s centres are part of the communities in which they are situated, and have become a staple for both children and their parents to socialise and enjoy, with many customers visiting twice a week. To this effect, Liedtke has been behind the launch of new confectionary brand POParazzi’s – a gourmet popcorn brand with variety of sweet and savoury popcorn with locations across the UAE and Qatar.
One of the largest playful learning and entertainment spaces in the Middle East, Fun City has been developed for children up to 12 years. The brand has become such a hit, the Group has expanded to the UAE, Kuwait Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and India. All centres under Fun City encourage and support child development through a number of activities, such as the Play Zone, enabling children to socialise and develop key skills within an engaging environment. “We’re focusing on quality in the entertainment space and want to be the operator of choice in the countries in which we are situated,” adds Liedtke. “This really drives our ambition.”
All brands under the Group provide indispensable and exciting learning platforms and create customer and child engagement. Fun Block has therefore built on this concept and has become an extension of Fun City’s facilities, with entertainment facilities, such as a 600 square metre trampoline park, climbing wall and a play zone. ‘Fun Works’, however, has since become one of the largest Group ventures, spanning 6,000 square metres over two floors at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi. “Any market we operate in we want to be the largest and the best operator,” Liedtke says.
The Group’s aggressive growth plan encompasses expanding the number of centres they currently own in India, but also to develop their existing spaces over the next five years. However, Liedtke explains that such ambitions would not have even been possible without the support of shareholders and landlords who underpin the viability of the Group, and also the relevancy of its products and services. He adds succinctly: “With the time and the vision to create the right spaces to operate in, only then can you succeed.”
In addition, Liedtke is aware that the Group is facing increasing competition from a number of competitors, and is consistently developing new ways to remain one of the biggest names in the leisure business, stating: “how do we stay relevant to customers? How do we ensure that they will come back?” To ensure the Group caters to increased customer needs, it produces customer surveys to drive interaction and improvement of services, machinery and products to ensure delivery is second to none, in addition to utilising a centralised system to operate a number of successful communication channels.
Despite these ongoing challenges, maintaining the Group’s position, whilst providing environments which support essential learning through brands which are sustainable and create everlasting smiles, is something Liedtke continually strives to implement. “Only when we have achieved that then we remain relevant and continue to be one of the biggest leisure operators within this space,” he adds.
It is clear that Landmark Leisure’s long-term vision will provide a more dynamic and positive marketplace, drive positive customer experiences and deliver long-term benefits to the regions in which it grows. “It also comes down to the culture, the vision you create and the responsibility which comes with it,” Liedtke concludes.