Friday, January 11, 2013

Malls must revitalise to stay relevant

Malls must revitalise to stay relevant

Monday January 7, 2013

BUILDING owners must refurbish their properties from time to time to ensure their products remain relevant to keep consumers coming back year after year, Bukit Bintang-KLCC Tourism Association Kuala Lumpur chairman Joyce Yap said.

“In light of the competition, the loyalty of shoppers does not lie in the shopping complex but rather the product they like.

“Subconsciously, people tend to feel safer and at ease in a modern and brightly-lit building with all the facilities to cater to convenience and comfort,’’ Yap said.

“Older shopping centres cannot afford to not upgrade and must find ways to add value to their product to enjoy better ROI (return on investment) in the long run.

“It is all part of the motivating factor and the evolution to keep up with the competition,’’ she added.

With over 40 years of experience and being instrumental in transforming a dying Imbi Plaza into a popular shopping centre in the early 1980s, Yap clearly knows what she is talking about.

She has used the same formula of “re-generation” to make a success of every other shopping centre that she worked at.

It is no surprise to find her now as Pavilion Kuala Lumpur’s chief executive officer (retail).

But she insisted that despite Pavilion’s current success as a top shopping centre in the city, even they have to refurbish every three to five years, to keep re-inventing themselves.

“Bukit Bintang is traditionally a shopping hub, and when Pavilion came up, we were the catalyst that transformed the area and drove tenants and other mall owners to upgrade,’’ Yap said.

She was quick to point out that there were physical constraints when upgrading the older malls, like what they experienced with Fahrenheit88 (formerly KL Plaza).

However, she said, these setbacks could be compensated by other elements such as variety and value to make it sustainable.

She reminded that Kuala Lumpur’s placing as the fourth best shopping destination in the world by global news network CNN showed the potential of shopping hubs such as Bukit Bintang for growth.

“We scored rather low on connectivity, but that’s where the Government comes in and they too realise that they need to improve on connectivity with MRT, pedestrian bridges, sky bridges and walkways.

“But stakeholders must play a role by looking at the big picture and start thinking out of the box.

“They can no longer behave like a poor cousin living in a wealthy street without ever changing,’’ said Yap.