KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 — A glut in shopping malls around the Klang Valley and a sluggish retail property market are among the many challenges retail mall operators face as they struggle to maintain existing occupancy rates.

While more established malls like MidValley, KLCC, Pavillion and Sunway Pyramid are doing relatively well, others are clearly struggling with many empty shop lots and retailers closing down or moving out.

Despite this, more malls are still being built. DC Mall in Damansara Town Centre, Sunway Velocity Mall in Cheras as well The Starling in Damansara Uptown opened recently.

So if you’re surrounded by dozens of other malls, how do you set yourself apart?

“You have to carve a niche, to be unique in terms of retail. It’s not just about a shopping mall anymore, it has to be more than retail therapy,” Michael Chee, Head of Asset Management at Suez Domain Sdn Bhd, the developers of KL Gateway Mall told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview.

Chee believes that the upcoming KL Gateway Mall has the right formula for success, being a part of an integrated development plan comprising offices and high-rise condominiums on Jalan Kerinchi, just off the Federal Highway.

Michael Chee, Head of Asset Management, Suez Domain Sdn Bhd (pictured) says an important consideration for KL Gateway Mall is finding the right kind of retailers and to have a balanced mix between generic and exclusive brands.

 

Finding the right tenants:

Chee said an important consideration for KL Gateway Mall is finding the right kind of retailers and to have a balanced mix between generic and exclusive brands.

“You have to talk to your retailers and empathize with them. Understand who your consumers are… they must have the ability and capacity to consume,” he explained.

He said that KL Gateway Mall’s focus was on working, middle-class professionals and those from “affluent” neighborhoods like Bangsar South, Damansara Heights, Seputeh, and Taman Desa.

“You must also plan properly so that your tenants can survive. For example, we only have three hair salons and one florist because we cannot have too many of these, we want to give business to our tenants… to make sure they survive.”

Chee said that other than general brands like Daiso, H&M and Village Grocer, Korean fashion retailer The Twee will be opening its first flagship store in South-east Asia at KL Gateway Mall. The occupancy rate for retailers is currently at 80 percent.


KL Gateway Mall will open to the public on March 2 this year.

 

Strategic location:

Another edge KL Gateway Mall has is its unique location between Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, which Chee believes will serve as a meeting point for many people who might want to meet up or those who are working on the go.

“The whole mall will have free wifi. We are also creating workspaces at areas in the mall whereby people can actually do their work without having to go to expensive cafes to purchase a drink just to have somewhere to work,” Chee explained.

There will also be a 100-metre link bridge which connects the mall to the KL Gateway-Universiti LRT station, which Chee says is one of the few malls outside of KL’s central business district with a direct LRT link.

“If it’s lunchtime, you might think twice about going to MidValley because of the traffic jam, and Bangsar might not offer choices like kopitiams so KL Gateway Mall is another option, it is accessible and easy to get there via LRT,” he said.

But Chee reckons that the biggest draw to KL Gateway Mall will be its automated car parking facilities, which he asserts is the biggest of its kind in South-east Asia and the second largest in the world.

“You park your car in a lift and take a card which contains a 4-digit secret number, and after that, the car is automatically parked at a bay.

“When you want to leave, just key in the number and the machine will tell you where the car is located,” he explained, saying that there is a total of 1,238 automated parking bays available and 900 normal ones.

Other unique features also include an outdoor garden and jogging path… ways to help make residents feel the mall is part of the neighborhood.

KL Gateway Mall will open to the public on March 2 this year. And whether it will be a success, only time will tell but Chee is determined to do everything he can to make sure the odds are in their favor.

 

Source:  Malay Mail Online