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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Penthouses of St Mary Residences will be sold with the option of owning a Lamborghini

St Mary Residences is located in Jalan Tengah, off Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.

In what may well be the first time a developer collaborates with a car company in order to sell a property, both being big ticket items, the flavour of this partnership between Eastern & Oriental Bhd (E&O) and Lamborghini has an intoxicating whiff of big names, superb brands and luxury all coming together.

The partnership has several elements that are difficult to ignore. First, the aspect of consumerism today. It is a subject that can lead to many lessons in marketing, retail, advertising and promotion. Is opting for the branded the way to go? For many consumers, the answer is Yes because branding, more often than not, equates quality. So there is a price to be paid for quality.

Chan with a Lamborghihi Gallardo. He say the Lamborghini is a lifestyle purchase. Just like properties today.

On another aspect, if one were to stay focus and not be distracted by the gleaming wheels of the sports car, what is the way ahead for the high-end property market? Will other developers also co-brand in order to sell their properties?

In the property world, the E&O group is nothing less than innovation, luxury and lifestyle all rolled into one. It has always been the first to market.

Says E&O deputy managing director Eric Chan: “The direction the high end property sector will take depends on how the regional market responds to what we have in Kuala Lumpur. There is value here.”

The last decade or so, in many ways, the niche developer has been rather bold and innovative.

Consider the following. Before the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) became the sought after location it is today although it is beyond the reach of a majority of the Malaysian population E&O came up with Dua Residency, the first luxurious condominium development with built-ups of more than 2,000 sq ft and beyond. At a time when few have seen or experienced such luxury, except for high net worth individuals, Dua was sold starting from RM500 to RM600 per sq ft. Today, those units average about RM900 per sq ft.

A couple of years after that in 2006/07, nearly every developer who had the resources tried to enter that KLCC market.

In June 2009, months after the 2008 global financial crisis, E&O boldly launched St Mary Residences, at Jalan Tengah, off Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.

It was the first developer to launch anything after the September 2008 fall of Lehman Brothers. Unlike Dua Residency where units were predominantly more than 2,000sq ft and above, the developer changed strategies in 2009 by offering quite a number of one-bedroom units of about 1,000sq ft.

Hungary for launches, its introduction of St Mary Residences saw a strong 80% take-up rate after just a five-day preview, at an average price of about RM900 per sq ft. St Mary Residences is located on four acres of former church land. Three blocks were built. Two blocks were sold and one named E&O Residences. These 200-unit block was “given” to the Synod of the Diocese of West Malaysia in exchange for the land. Besides the serviced apartment block, the church also negotiated for the building of a school in Selayang.

E&O will be operating and managing E&O Residences for 15 years, with the option to extend for another five. It will offer luxury short-term stays. Thus far, all the units in the two remaining blocks have been sold with the exception of three super penthouse units. Next week, purchasers who bought into the development will be getting their keys.

Here is where the co-branding comes in. The three penthouses, with a built-up of about 7,000sq ft, are priced between RM10mil and RM12.18mil. They are being sold with the option for purchasers to own a Lamborghini Gallardo.

Lamborghini Kuala Lumpur chief operating officer Marcus Chye says there are about 200 units of Lamborghini in Malaysia, but there are only 20 Gallardo models. Thirteen have been sold, and three have been put aside for this special partnership with E&O.

Those familiar with the luxurious car market says the Lamborghini is at the top end of the sports car range with aspiring new entrants buying a Lotus which costs about RM500,000 before moving on to a Porsche, then a Ferrari, if they are die-hard collectors.

But why a Lamborghini and not a Bentley or a Rolls Royce?

Says Chye: “The best goes with the best.”

The Bentley and the Rolls Royce are business cars, says Chye. “You go to meetings, dinners and to the office with a Bentley or a Rolls Royce. The Lamborghini is for the weekend.”

Unlike the perception of many that the Lamborghini owner belongs to the 30-to-40-something age group, Chye begs to differ.

Some clients are older and wiser, he says.

Which thus solves the question of who will buy E&O's super penthouses priced between RM10mil and RM12mil. Purchasers cannot contra the price of the property with the price of the car.

Says Chan: “They will get the car at a very special rate.”

Both Chan and Chye are of the view that when it comes to super brands and premium luxury the likes of E&O and Lamborghini, there is “no question of a discount.”

Says Chye: “The Lamborghini is a lifestyle. Just like properties today.”

By The Star

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