“All about experience”: Inside Sands Retail’s approach to bricks-and-mortar


Shoppes at Londoner is the latest project from Sands Retail and, together with developments at the Venetian, Four Seasons and the Parisian on the Cotai Strip, constitutes Sands Shoppes Macao, the largest duty-free luxury shopping experience in Macao.  Located within The Londoner Macao and covering over 600,000 square feet, the new shopping destination will house more than 150 world-renowned brands in an elegant British-themed setting. The mall aims to recreate authentic British street scene

scenes, drawing inspiration from London’s Oxford Street, one of Europe’s busiest and most exciting shopping locations. It is part of Sands Retail’s vision to bring ‘the best of London to Macau’. 

The story so far

For the uninitiated, Sands Retail is the leasing and retail asset management platform of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which is responsible for properties across all LVSC-owned malls in Macau, Singapore and future international developments.

“We’ve certainly had some challenging times, just like the rest of the world here in Asia. Nonetheless, we’re seeing a lot of green shoots at the moment, and things are starting to move in the right direction, David Sylvester, executive vice president and head of global retail at Las Vegas Sands Corporation, told Inside Retail.

David Sylvester, executive vice president and head of global retail at Las Vegas Sands Corporation

For the group as a whole, the underlying philosophy is all about creating themed retail environments that put experiences at the forefront.

“We’re all about the experience. We focus only on integrated resort retail, that’s what we specialise in. That’s what we do. Our whole focus is about creating an unique experience for our customers,” Sylvester said. 

He believes the Londoner project is the best example of what the group is capable of, thanks to the next-level quality of the finishing and construction. 

“It’s all about giving customers a glimpse of London. From the black cabs to the double-decker buses, Shakespeare Hall and so on. It’s something very unique in the tourist market,” he said.

At the moment, Shoppes at Four Seasons is Sands Retail’s premier luxury model. Sylvester revealed that the group is currently tweaking the concept to position it in the super luxury segment in the future.

Shoppes at Londoner sits a tier below that, and is more family-oriented,  though it still is quite luxurious. The Venetian is more skewed to High Street offerings, while the Parisian is focused on the younger generation. 

“Ultimately, The Londoner allows for luxury experiences at all different price points, there’s luxury in there, but it’s more for families, so you’ve got kids entertainment options too. [It’s] 600,000 square feet and 150 outlets, so it’s a lot of things to a lot of people,” he said.

Evolutionary changes

Having been in the role for over 17 years, Sylvester is perfectly positioned to give his perspective on the Macau marketplace and the retail sector in general.

“The market has moved a lot since I started back in 2005. In the early days, there was not much retail in Macau. But now Macau is evolving more and more into an international retail destination,” he noted.

From brands like Louis Vuitton to other flagship marques, Sylvester said that all the major names are represented in the marketplace, and even a lot of pop-up stores are coming to Macau to offer luxury products to customers in this space.

“It’s still a young market, compared to other hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Tokyo, which have been around for longer, there is still a long way to go for Macau. So there is a lot of potential for the future,” he stated.

Sands Retail is collaborating with events like Macau Fashion Week and launching targeted marketing initiatives to bring in tourists from Europe and the United States too. 

“We have to cover many segments, so it’s not like a traditional mall. We’re talking about people coming in from all parts of the world, at all price points, so we’ve just got to make sure we have an offering that suits everyone,” he noted.

Sylvester stressed that the group is always fine tuning the retail mix so that it remains current and relevant. It’s always about creating entertainment that is intertwined with retail offerings that keep customers coming back for more.

Maintaining the vision

“We don’t use a cookie-cutter model in our approach to our business. It’s always been our vision to blend entertainment and retail to create amazing experiences for the customer. So that’s what has driven us wherever we go into the marketplace,” he stressed.

The group is laser-focused on Gen Z and millennials, and its marketing initiatives on social media have become ‘supercharged’ over the years, especially with the digital transformation that has occurred since the onset of the pandemic.

“This generation is always looking for magical moments. So we work a lot on social media, making sure we have Instagram-able moments and so on. But our focus is on the bricks-and-mortar experience, so we are not competing with online shopping trends,” he stated.

The O2O (online to offline) strategy is key for Sands Retail, and Sylvester says its recent win at the Global RLI Awards in Riyadh – in the ‘Most Innovative Retail & Tourism Destination’ category – is testament to the approach the organisation has taken with its projects in Macau.

“It’s great to see us getting recognised for the work that we do in our niche. We’re doing some really cool stuff with entertainment and social media, so that’s exactly the kind of focus we want to have,” he said.

Empathy goes a long way

Even after the ravaging effects of the pandemic on the global economy, and the aftershocks that are still being felt today, the organisation had always treated its retail partners with a huge dose of empathy.

According to Sylvester, Sands Retail offered rent relief to its partners throughout the pandemic, because it believed that it would help all parties come out the other end stronger.

“Instead of taking a short-term view that could end up with black holes and ineffective models, we continue to take the long-term view. We are going to continue to support our retail partners, and be ready to be responsible for the long-term view during these tough times,” he said.

Sylvester is excited about the Londoner’s potential and what it brings to the company’s overall offering, and hopes 2023 will be the start of a strong period of growth.


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