Suria KLCC shines on in face of competition

KUALA LUMPUR: Suria KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre), which has stamped its mark as a world class shopping haven in a relatively short time of six years, is targeting an eight per cent growth in retail sales this year besides maintaining its lead position as Malaysia’s top retail complex. 

In 2003, its total retail turnover came to RM1.3bil. 

In terms of productivity per square foot, Suria KLCC stands out strongly against its competitors as the figures represent a significant portion of the total Malaysian market share, said its general manager, Andrew Brien. 

Located below the world’s tallest twin structures, the renowned Petronas Twin Towers, Suria KLCC’s growth is also expected to grow in tandem with the relatively bright outlook for the domestic retail industry and the overall Malaysian economy this year. 

“Our market share is growing as we are meeting the needs of the market and by being relevant to the market,” said Brien, an Australian who was appointed three months ago to manage the complex which boasts of two department stores (Isetan and Parkson Grand) and other anchor tenants like the Tanjong Golden Village Cineplex and Kinokuniya Bookstore in addition to 280 specialty stores spread out over 139,400sq m of floor space. 

Making Suria KLCC 'the place to be at' for both locals and foreigners has been due to a combination of easy road and LRT access, good retail mix and availability of quality customers services.

“The highest profile international brands and the best local brands are already in Suria KLCC,” he said. These include Bvlgari, Montblanc, Tiffany & Co, Habib, Edmund Ser and British India. 

Although Suria KLCC is in a strong position against its competitors, its management is working hard to ensure the shopping mall remains attractive and exciting, Brien said. 

“I believe that shopping complexes of today have become the ‘town centres’ of the new millennium. People come to shopping complexes to relax and enjoy (the facilities); they just don’t come with a wallet for shopping,” said Brien, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the retail business. 

About 15% to 25% of Suria KLCC’s sales come from foreigners. And Brien wants this to increase further as more foreigners learn of Malaysia’s reputation as a “value-for-money” shopping destination. 

A chunk of the targeted increase in growth is likely to come from specialty shops, which account for a major portion of the floor space at the six-level shopping complex. 

Three strong anchor tenants –Isetan, Parkson Grand and Cold Storage (formerly Tops) – are also expected to chalk up positive growth from their loyal customers. 

But Brien conceded that the majors (or main tenants) cannot suit the taste of all consumers and that was why the “specialty shops have quite a strong pull” with their designer clothes, branded luxury goods, jewellery and consumer electronics. 

Based on the forecast economic outlook for Malaysia and the expected rise in tourist arrivals, he said he is confident that Suria KLCC would be able to attract strong numbers of traffic this year through innovative customer service, training and marketing programmes. 

“Suria KLCC has become a destination of choice. Even in the worst conditions such as traffic jams in the city, you can get in and out of Suria KLCC,” he said, adding that many other shopping malls in the city do not enjoy the same convenience. 

Making Suria KLCC “the place to be at” in downtown Kuala Lumpur for both locals and foreigners has been due to a combination of sheer convenience (easy road and LRT access), good retail mix and availability of quality customer services. 

Convenience and value for money – not necessarily cheap pricing – are what customers are looking for and Suria KLCC will capitalise on these strong attributes, said Brien. 

To achieve the quality desired by customers, Suria KLCC has to “sweat the small stuff because small ideas might grow into something significant for its business,” he stressed. 

It works closely with retailers by reviewing every store design with top designers so that they remain relevant by international standards, evaluating service levels and even conducting visits to shopping malls overseas to study the latest retail trends. 

“In other words, constant research and development,” said Brien, adding: “when you walk the mall, there is a sense of pleasure in just looking at the stores because they are well-designed and well-presented.”  

Presenting this sense of pleasure costs Suria between RM4mil and RM5mil annually in terms of maintenance. But the money spent has been worth every penny, Brien said. 

Besides the good retail mix, Suria KLCC’s attractiveness is also boosted by the nearby 20ha park which gives visitors a grand view of lush greenery as they relax in the sidewalk cafes or by the pool, and Petrosains, an exhibition-cum-educational amusement centre based on Malaysia’s oil industry. 

The upcoming convention centre, which will have an aquarium that will be the biggest in this region and KLCC’s location next to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, will also help to pull in the crowds.  

Talking about expansion plans and maximising the available floor space, he disclosed that some areas below the concourse level would be turned into retail shops while the 1,200-seat food court would be refurbished later this year. 

“It will be a complete facelift as it will help us serve our daily customers. We have a large number of customers from offices in the twin towers,” he said. – Bernama  

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