Feature: A landmark vision
Feature: A landmark vision
A long-term relationship between Visiontech Systems International and the Landmark Group has kept the company busy throughout the pandemic
Part of the Landmark Group of retail outlets, retail giant Centrepoint established a shopping concept whereby its Babyshop, Splash, SHOEMART and Lifestyle brands are all combined under a single roof within a family-friendly and stimulating environment. Cleary this has been a successful formula for the group, as the chain has quickly spread out from its original location in Kuwait to boast 140 stores throughout the Middle East, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Lebanon. This comes as the result of a DH1b investment since 2014 to open new outlets and hire more than 10,000 staff throughout the region.
But that expansion was not without its teething problems. Unhappy with the quality of audio playback within many of those existing outlets, the Landmark management brought Dubai-based systems integrator Visiontech Systems International LLC on board back in 2018 to assess the problems at some of the worst affected sites, and devise replacement solutions capable of delivering the stimulating ambiance the brand promises.
“We are delighted to be part of Landmark group, underlining our expertise in turnkey solutions,” explains Aliasgar Dohadwala, CEO of Visiontech. “With our extensive experience and through our in-house team of subject experts, we could ensure everything went ahead perfectly.”
Visiontech’s AV design and project lead, Arpit Bhatnagar, recalls the issues faced by the retail giant at the time. “The client had been experiencing very uneven sound in their stores – in some places the music was very loud and in others it could hardly be heard. Overall, it was muddy because of the poor system design. Furthermore, if the staff turned up the volume then the whole system would fall over. Not only had the wrong speakers for this application been chosen, but the way in which the solution was designed was far from optimal.”
Visiontech was immediately put to task assessing the current audio systems at the Centrepoint outlet in Juffair Mall, Bahrain, one of the chain’s flagship outlets at nearly 10,000m2. Sensing that a successful completion would likely also result in the systems integrator being awarded the upgrade contact for all of the retailer’s Centrepoint outlets, the team set about conducting a thorough audio analysis of the shop floor using Bose Modler software, considering all of the factors that may affect the final audio output.
This included thoroughly analysing each space to determine the occupancy of the stores, the type of clientele and therefore playback material, as well as the reflectivity of the surface and ceiling materials, explains Bhatnagar. “It was very in-depth. This is something that we do properly, ensuring higher SPL is achieved with uniform sound dispersion and good intelligibility.”
Following the results of the analysis, Visiontech devised a new audio solution drawing heavily on Bose’s FS3 series of surface-mount, pendant and ceiling speakers. According to Bhatnagar, the full-range FS3 cabinets are more than capable of providing the necessary output and audio quality throughout the spacious Centrepoint shop floors, but have also been augmented with FS3 ceiling subwoofers for those situations where the music levels are increased.
JBL Professional Control24CT and Control24Ct Micro full-range ceiling speakers have been integrated into the back of house areas. Ensuring loudspeakers receive optimised EQ, all Bose speakers are powered via Bose PowerMatch Amplifiers, whereas the JBL cabinets draw power from JBL Commercial Amplifiers. Paging capabilities, zoning and source selection are provided via Audac MTX88 eight-zone audio matrixes together with MPX88 paging microphones for staff.
Huzaifa Jawadwala, ELV head of Visiontech, added: “In order to secure the tender for all of the outlets, we asked the client to let us prove ourselves in the first location, Bahrain, and if they were happy with the result, to carry the project on through to the other outlets. The Visiontech AV team, led by Arpit Bhatnagar, visited the Bahrain store to ensure that the final commissioning of the system was completed as required. In that sense, the Bahrain installation was somewhat a proof of concept. When the system was installed, the client was very impressed with the difference in sound quality and, furthermore, they now enjoy uniform SPL levels, no matter which corner of the store you are in.”
Visiontech’s design proved more than capable of providing the necessary intelligibility for a retail environment, ultimately achieving a better-than-expected STI figure of 0.6. And so, with the client more than satisfised by the new solution at its Bahrain outlet, Visiontech’s remit was quickly expanded to additional stores.
A large number of outlet upgrades have since been carried out over the past two years, all replicating the initial design showcased in Bahrain. Thankfully, the process was not yet complete when the pandemic struck in early 2020, and the Landmark outlets have provided Visiontech with a much-needed source of continued work throughout the year. “Once the Bahrain store was finished, they were so happy with the result that they tasked us with upgrading not only more Centrepoint outlets, but also many of the other Landmark concept outlets,” shares Bhatnagar.
Most recently, the Visiontech team has expanded and adapted its now tried-and-tested shop audio design for Landmark’s newest Centrepoint store in Dubai Mall, deploying another 100 FS3 ceiling speakers and 25 FS3 subwoofers. Due to open to the public in early 2021, the Dubai Mall outlet has kept the Visiontech team busy during some quiet months.
More importantly, though, the refits have spawned a long-term relationship between Visiontech and the Landmark Group that will likely continue to provide a fiscal safety net for the AV integrator for many more years to come. “They trust us and they now consider us to be their only consultant,” says Bhatnagar. “The reason is because over the last three years, although the concept is the same throughout the brand, we designed each separate outlet individually by taking into account each store’s space and their differing needs. The proof is with the results and the client couldn’t be happier.
“Because of Covid, Landmark is looking to reduce expenditure for the future projects,” Bhatnagar concludes. “Perhaps before they were planning to spend approximately $100,000 per store, now that will be closer to $50,000. Nevertheless, we will still work with them closely to make sure we have a solution where quality is not compromised.”
At the time Visiontech first engaged with Landmark, the scale of upcoming work probably didn’t seem that significant. Since then, the AV integrator has delivered more than 1,000 Bose FS3 loudspeakers to retail outlets throughout the Middle East, with no signs of slowing down.