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Cirque to open in malls

The group known for Cirque du Soleil's acrobatic performances is eyeing struggling malls for an opportunity to grow its business.

Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group plans to start building family entertainment centres, called Creactive, where guests can try circus and dance activities, bungee jumping, aerial parkour, trampolines, mask designing and juggling.

The venture aims to fulfil an opportunity that arises from the transformation of retail around the world, said the group in a statement, adding developers increasingly look at adding entertainment experiences that turn malls into holistic destinations. The centres will add to Cirque du Soleil's roster of similar facilities at Club Med resorts in the Dominican Republic and France.

The company partnered with real estate giant Ivanhoe Cambridge to open the first indoor centre in the Greater Toronto Area in September 2019.

Ivanhoe Cambridge's portfolio includes 28 malls in Canada, according to its website, including Vaughan Mills in Vaughan, Ont. The pair are in discussions about future locations in other Canadian and international cities.

The centres perfectly align with Ivanhoe Cambridge's vision for the future of retail, which includes joining forces with partners to offer patrons innovative experiences, said the company's president of retail Claude Sirois in a statement.

"This collaboration is a terrific illustration of our efforts to transform the retail experience for our discerning guests," he said.

Malls have been transforming in recent years, devoting more real estate to experience-based shopping rather than typical stores in an effort to lure customers lost to online shopping back inside. They've also grappled with anchor tenants, like Zellers, Target and Sears Canada, closing down and leaving big vacant spaces.

Cineplex Inc. is another company taking advantage of this trend. The company has been opening arcade and restaurant spaces with its Rec Room offering.

Creactive comes months after Cirque du Soleil aimed to expand internationally by buying Blue Man Productions, a New York entertainment company with a strong presence in Europe.

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