Excerpts from an interview StaBiz's S.C. Cheah had with Sagajuta 9Sabah) Sdn Bhd's MD and executive chairman Raymond Chan.
STARBIZ: How do you get things adone so fast and what are your views of the shopping centre industry today?
Chan: I am a single decision maker. This means the turnaround time is much faster. Normally you have to bring your idea to the managerial level and then it goes to the directors’ level. By the time the decision comes back for implementation it would have taken some time.
I believe that real success all points to concept. It means having the right trade mix. Success is not about your finishes or how great is your location.
Customer loyalty patterns have changed over the years. We have to move fast. It is all about timing. If you have the right concept but you move too slowly it won’t do. If you have the wrong concept, it will not spark the market.
StarBiz: Can KK sustain a big shopping centre like 1 Borneo bearing in mind that there are several existing ones and more in the pipeline?
Chan: In KL you have some 60 malls, both big and small but only a few like the Mid Valley Megamall, Sunway Pyramid, 1 Utama and Suria KLCC are very successful. 1 Borneo only competes with other malls in the neighbouring region. Its sheer size of 1.5 million sq ft will prohibit new entry of such size into the market for the next 10 to 15 years. Our retailers will be able to enjoy a captive market here in KK unlike those in Peninsular Malaysia.
Sabah has plenty of resorts and hotels to choose from. What we need now is to have the entire infrastructure ready. With the expansion of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport later this year, it will provide increase influx of tourists into the state. At present, KKIA is the second busiest airport in Malaysia after KLIA.
StarBiz: What are some of the unique features of 1 Borneo?
Chan: There will be a Handicraft & Batik Gallery with Cultural Heritage Centre all housed in a 32,000 sq ft space on the ground and first floors. We plan to organise events like a Malay wedding and cultural shows where shoppers can have a photo session with the dancers. We want to get tourists to experience the Malaysian culture.
Nobody has done this in a whole-hearted manner. There will also be a Jalan-Jalan Street Bazaar with a flea market concept adopted from Masjid India.
Our “Rio” will be a trendy happening place based on Tokyo’s Harajuku sub-centre for the young and trendy.
We will be giving shoppers a whole new experience in shopping, and will be penetrating into the Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese markets for products and retailers to come from these countries as they offer the latest and trendiest in the industry.
There will be small temporary and permanent kiosks and outlets selling trendy products and gadgets, similar to Heeren Mall in Singapore but they will be smaller.
StarBiz: What are your goals and plans for 1 Borneo?
Chan: We aim to be the first and largest lifestyle mall in East Malaysia, offering seven anchors.
We are confident that our unique concept and attractions will create the marketing edge. That is why we are luring a lot of retail brands that have not even arrived at our shores.We will build a RM20mil flyover along the Sulaiman Highway and a link road from Kingfisher Park and Tuaran Bypass. This will provide an alternative route for our shoppers without having to go through the congestion at the Likas Bay coastal road. 1 Borneo will be a catalyst of change to the shopping scene in Kota Kinabalu and Sabah and, with tourist arrivals expected to reach 2.7 million by 2007, industry players anticipate a healthy impact for 1 Borneo.
StarBiz: What are your other projects in Sabah?
Chan: Besides 1 Borneo, we have the Warisan Square, a project adjacent to the Kingfisher Park and a proposed 80-acre mixed development in KK that will be a joint venture with a Japanese group that we plan to launch in early 2007. Warisan Square, with a street mall concept in the heart of KK city was sold out within a day and netted RM120mil in sales.
Construction is in its advanced stage and is scheduled for completion by the first quarter of 2006.
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