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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Malls expand and upgrade to stay ahead of the competition

WITH new malls being developed all the time, shopping complexes that have been around a while need to continue to re-invent themselves to keep up with the competition. So what do these malls have to do to stay attractive and be able to pull in the crowds'

Kevin Tan Gar Peng ... ‘We designed the mall in such a way that coming here would be more of an adventure than just a shopping trip.’

The Sunway Pyramid shopping centre, which has been around since 1997, is still being continuously upgraded to keep up with the competition, says Sunway IFM Sdn Bhd retail division chief operating officer Kevin Tan Gar Peng.

Due to demand for added space, we are expanding a section of our mall after Chinese New Year (which falls in early February), he says in an interview.

The upgrade, says Tan, will comprise the addition of three levels of retail space.

There will be another phase of expansion. Collectively, both phases will have a collective gross lettable area of 300,000 sq ft, Tan says, adding that it is too early to reveal the total investment cost for the upgrade.

He says there is always room for improvement at the mall. The Sunway group has already invested some RM550mil in upgrades since the malls first inception.

About RM30mil was spent to upgrade and improve the fly-overs and connecting roads around the shopping centre to improve accessibility to the mall, Tan says.

Sunway Pyramid trumped all entries at this years FIABCI awards to become the Best Retail Development 2010.

Of course, our goal is not to win awards. But winning it is a bonus and a testament to our hard work. Winning encourages us to work harder, says Tan.

He says the mall spends about RM3mil annually to light up the surrounding area of the mall during festive seasons.

According to Tan, the mall has been experiencing full take-up for the past seven years, with current rental rates at about RM10 per sq ft.

This is in spite of the continuous expansion weve been making to the mall.

Compared to other malls in the country, the Sunway Pyramid shopping centre has the advantage of being near a hotel and a theme park namely the Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa and Sunway Lagoon.

Our strategic location provides a choice to people who come here, says Tan.

Arab tourists who come with their families enjoy this option very much. The men like the facilities that the hotel offers. Their children love the rides at the theme park and their four wives can enjoy the shopping lifestyle, Tan enthuses.

The appeal of the Sunway Pyramid shopping mall, especially to the Arabs, could also be because of its Egyptian-inspired pyramid and lion statue at the main entrance.

Tan says the mall is the countrys first themed shopping and entertainment centre.

We designed the mall in such a way that coming here would be more of an adventure than just a shopping trip.

Pulling in the crowds

According to reports, property consultants expect 20 new malls with a combined net floor area of 4.4 million sq ft to be opened this year.

According to statistics by the National Property Information Centre, as at March 2010, there were 49.98 million sq ft of existing retail space within the Klang Valley. A further 7.18 million sq ft is under development and 7.5 million sq ft of new space planned.

Citing data from the Malaysian Association for Shopping and Highrise Complex Management, Tan says there are currently about 300 shopping malls in the country, with half of them in the Klang Valley alone.

The competition (for malls) level in the Klang Valley is great. However (with the global economy picking up), tourist arrivals into the country have increased this year. That helps to support the malls.

However, while the improved economic outlook has seen a tourist influx into the country, other countries, especially Singapore, have been luring Malaysian tourists to their malls, says Tan.

Singapore is aggressively promoting their tourist destinations, such as Resorts World Sentosa, here.

According to statistics from Singapores tourism board website, the number of Malaysian travellers into Singapore increased 40.2% to 95,371 for September 2010 from 68,008 in the previous corresponding period.

For the nine-month period ended September, the number of Malaysian travellers rose 44.5% to 724,528.

According to various reports, the surge in tourist arrivals into Singapore has been attributed to the opening of Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands earlier in the year.

Tan adds that with the advent of budget airlines, travelling has become cheaper.

With cheaper flights now, more Malaysians are going abroad but that does not mean that the same amount of foreigners are coming in, he says, adding that local malls need to aggressively market their products or risk losing customers.

Looking forward, Tan is optimistic about the local retail sector. He says that the Governments proposal under Budget 2011 to abolish import duty on 300 goods preferred by tourists is a good move.

The move now makes branded goods more affordable. Now, shoppers dont have to travel overseas to buy such goods, he says.

By The Star

1 comment:

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