MALAYSIA’S leading furniture and electrical products retailer Courts Mammoth Bhd is opening new stores called Courts Metro at shopping centres and hypermarkets.
The move to have a new sub-brand name, would be in line with plans to expand the customer base by operating in commercial complexes that have high human traffic, said chief executive and managing director James Friel.
Friel is optimistic that the sub-brand outlets will attract more non-Malays, urbanites and young professionals.
“The new image should appeal not only to the new target groups, but also our existing customers,” he told StarBiz at the opening of the first Courts Metro store with 20,000 sq ft built-up at the Giant Plentong hypermarket complex.
About RM1mil is invested in the new store, including stocks. This will be a guideline for the setting up of similar stores nationwide where each outlet will have up to 25,000 sq ft area.
“The word Metro was chosen to reflect the metropolitan lifestyle of today’s consumers looking for stylish and innovative products. The company aims to focus and develop the new store concept in years to come as this offers good prospects,” he said.
Friel added that going “in-store” was in line with changing retail trends in Malaysia where there had been a noticeable shift in consumer shopping patterns towards malls.
The company has identified several locations and is negotiating with hypermarket or shopping mall operators to open five more Courts Metro stores this year.
He said the company wanted to move away from its traditional image of standalone outlets, as many customers might be unaware of what Courts had to offer.
“However, the in-store outlets would probably attract their attention,” he said, adding that the new image was likely to do as well as the standalone concept store that had proven to be successful for Courts for almost 20 years.
Another reason for the move is to create better market awareness as in-store outlets have better exposure and appeal to a broader market due to the high volume of human traffic. It also reflects Courts’ readiness to cater better to the evolving retail tastes and needs of its existing customers, as well as attracting new ones.
Friel said many people associated the company to a retailer catering to lower-income customers with flexible instalment payment schemes. Almost 90% of its customers are Malays.
Malaysian consumers, he said, were becoming more affluent and spent more time shopping at malls and hypermarkets than at traditional retail outlets.
Friel said by 2010, there would be 260 shopping malls in the country with 14 million sq ft retail space.
The company wants to be part of this space, otherwise it will lose out to other retailers.
He said feedback from customers in Johor Baru showed that they were impressed with the new image at the Plentong store.
“They like the contemporary setting, better products display and good lightings and façade,” he said, adding that while other in-store retailers focused only on one segment, the company gave equal emphasis on furniture and electrical products.
He said Courts Metro stores featured an extended range of digital electronics products such as video and digital cameras, MP3 players, personal computers and laptops.
Some of the state-of-the-art appliances include flat screen, plasma and LCD television sets, and home-theatre systems from 20 leading brands.