The new Virgin Megastore opened in The Dubai Mall. Virgin Megastore offers a wide range of products, including CDs, DVDs, books, electronics and accessories. Image Credit: Francois Nel

Dubai: Ten-year anniversaries seem to be in vogue this week, though this one has a more celebratory overtone. The entertainment retailer Virgin Megastore is marking a decade of operations in the region with the launch of a mega-store in The Dubai Mall, its 14th overall.

"The flagship store is a crucial part of the group's expansion strategy and one of a number of new stores expected to open in the next year," said Tarek Moussawer, regional marketing manager at Virgin Megastore Middle East. "We are most certainly on track with our game plan."

The new location will also be the second to feature an Apple shop after the first one opened in Virgin's Mall of the Emirates store earlier this year.

Other sales multipliers will come by way of an expanded Red Box section — featuring uber-cool gadgets that the young just have to have — as well as a larger kids' section. It does not stop there.

"We have a number of initiatives that are in the final stages of negotiation or development and all are designed to ensure we deliver the latest to our customers," Moussawer added. "We are currently finalising plans to further reward our loyal customers." In the ten years it has had a presence in the region, the retailer's merchandise has undergone a seismic transformation. If early on the emphasis was on pure-play music and movie format retail, it has since been broadened to extend into multimedia elements, accessories and a lot more besides.

The recent addition of the Apple shop — against the backdrop of a seemingly inexorable demand for all things Mac — has also proved to be an opportune line extension for the retailer. That it is a successful merchandise mix is also attested by the fact that some of the local pure-play electronics retailers have co-opted some of the Virgin Megastore ingredients into their operational brew.

While the spokesperson would not be drawn into queries regarding the live threat posed by illegal music and movie downloads, he said: "Our business in the Middle East has continued to flourish since we opened our first store. The new flagship store in Dubai's premium retail location is the latest demonstration of the commitment to expanding the ultimate retail entertainment experience across the Middle East.

"Customers love coming in to our stores — a recent survey revealed that customers spend an average of 45 minutes in our stores. This is more than a visit to purchase a product, this is a demonstration of a unique shopping experience."

As a case in point, The Dubai Mall location comes with a chill-out lounge — which Moussawer unsurprisingly deems a ‘cool' place to be — gaming sections and a dedicated concert stage for live performances from artists that the retailer supports throughout the year.

On whether the retailer would try and become more aggressive on the pricing strategy, Moussawer said: "Virgin Megastore works hard to ensure that our prices for all our products are as competitive as possible.

"Our product range is unrivalled in the region and we hope to maintain the competitive advantage with our products, business practices and customer service."