11 July 2001

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Discovery Centre to be converted into household department store

By Kurt Sansone
Photo by Paul Blandford

The Discovery Centre at Bay Street will shortly change its livery and turn into a department store selling household goods and furniture.

The Malta Business and Financial Times can reveal that the space occupied by the Centre on the top floor at Bay Street has been sold to Vince Farrugia who owns the chain of outlets, Swinger by V.F..

Last week The Malta Business and Financial Times reported that the Discovery Centre was operating far below the expected level and a decision on the fate of the Centre was to be taken by the end of July.

In an interview with The Malta Business and Financial Times, Bay Street owner Chris Grech confirmed that the Discovery Centre did not take off as expected.

Furthermore, Mr Grech said that the lack of retail space had prevented the opening of a household goods and furniture shop at Bay Street. The closure of the Discovery Centre provided the necessary space to go ahead with the new shop, which will enhance the choice for customers.

Referring to the failure of the Discovery Centre, Mr Grech said that it might have been boring when compared to the other entertaining distractions at Bay Street.

"The Discovery Centre is close to my heart because I did a lot of research about the concept. Bay Street offers a wide variety of entertainment options and things to do and it is evident that people preferred to invest their time in other areas. We emphasised the educational aspect too much at the expense of the fun element," Mr Grech added with regret.

The Centre cost an initial investment of Lm650,000 however it was never intended to make money. Mr Grech said that the idea was to reach a break-even point. "I considered the Centre to be my contribution to the community," he stressed.

The Discovery Centre was an innovative concept for Malta when the complex was opened six months ago. Recently the Centre was only screening three historical movies about Malta in the theatre. The initial idea behind the Centre was to organise interactive exhibitions every three months tackling various subjects.

Nonetheless, it seems that the popularisation of science did not tingle the imagination of people. But Mr Grech still believes that a similar concept can work in Malta.

"I still believe a Discovery Centre can work if operated on its own and offering more fun. With the right funding and help from the educational authorities it can happen. And if it happens I will surely be a part of it," Mr Grech emphasised.

Asked to comment on the rumours that Bay Street outlets were experiencing a slow down, Mr Grech dispelled the rumours. He added that the opening of a new outlet and the long list of people wanting to open shop at Bay Street are evidence of the success the complex has achieved.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt