Creating Winning Partnerships

CapitaMalls Asia gathers industry experts and retailers to discuss the changing climate cum win-win strategies in China’s retail sector

Issue: Jul 2011

creating winning partnerships
(L-R) Mr Chan Kong Leong, Regional General Manager, West China of CMA; Mr Simon Ho, CEO of CapitaMall Trust Management; Mr Goh Soon Yong, CEO, CMA (China); Mr Lim Beng Chee, CEO of CMA and Mr Lock Wai Han, Deputy CEO, CMA (China) toasting some 600 guests from China, Singapore and Japan at the CapitaMalls Asia (China) Retailers’ Forum 2011

CapitaMalls Asia (CMA) reinforced its positive outlook for the fast-growing China retail scene with the successful conclusion of its inaugural CMA (China) Retailers’ Forum on 20 May 2011. The forum, held in Chengdu, the biggest economic centre in western China, brought together some 600 participants including 462 international, Chinese, Singaporean and Japanese retailers representing 283 brands.

Themed "Creating Winning Partnerships", the Retailers’ Forum enabled both industry experts and retailers to share ideas and feedback on the retail and real estate sector in China, as well as to understand CMA’s development plans. Other than benefiting from the insightful plenary sessions by various industry experts that included Mr Ron Kaufman, world-leading educator and motivator for uplifting customer service; and Mr Peter Holland, Director of International Property Economics at Australia-based research and consultancy firm, Urbis; participating retailers were given an opportunity to network with other retailers and business partners, some of whom were either planning to enter the China retail market for the first time or had just begun business in the mainland.

"We have just started our China operations in Shanghai last year and consider the East and South-East Asian market as important markets for our future strategy. By working together with CapitaMalls Asia, we hope that our overseas expansion can proceed even more smoothly. Therefore, when we were invited to the Forum, we were very happy to attend. Through this Forum, we experienced the speed and maturity of the China retail market. We also found out that inner-China has great potential for business," said Mr Taishi Fukuoka, Executive Officer and General Manager of ABC Cooking Studio Co., Ltd, a Japanese retailer.

Mr Peter Holland of Urbis said that the number of shopping malls in China has swelled in recent years to 1,200 malls, with 100 to 150 new developments built every year.

Mr Chan Kong Leong speaking with invited Singapore media during a mall tour in Sichuan Province
More than 600 participants including 462 retailers from across Asia representing 283 brands attended the inaugural CapitaMalls Asia (China) Retailers’ Forum 2011 in Chengdu

Partnering retailers in satisfying consumers

In his opening address, Mr Goh Soon Yong, CEO, CMA (China), highlighted that CapitaMalls Asia is currently managing "53 shopping malls encompassing more than 4.5 million square metres, spread across 34 cities in China." With a management team of more than 2,200 staff in China, CMA is the ideal partner for retailers in the fast developing retail sector in China.

Ms Lyn Lee, owner of Awfully Chocolate, a participant and CMA tenant, agreed. "Our outlets have opened at CapitaMalls Asia’s shopping malls in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Dalian. We constantly engage our Chinese customers to learn and to infuse the local Chinese traits into our shops."

CMA has always been committed to constantly bringing value to its retailers by going beyond just providing professional management of shopping malls. The company also pays attention to other critical details that ensure both the profitability and sustainability of retailers.

"These include locating malls in areas with a high volume of human traffic, areas easily accessible by existing transport infrastructure and ensuring that every shopping mall has sufficient parking space. In addition, CapitaMalls Asia also pays attention to the needs of various consumer groups. For example, for malls catering to high net worth consumers, we provide high quality restrooms and VIP dressing rooms," revealed Mr Lim Beng Chee, CEO of CMA.

He further stressed that in addition to location and mall facilities, marketing was key to CMA’s strategy to achieve better retailer business results. These initiatives include promotional campaigns involving celebrities and family-oriented activities to attract a greater volume of visitors to the malls.

Mr Lim Beng Chee, CEO of CMA, sharing the concept of a 3G mall and CMA’s other strategic initiatives at the Forum
Mr Lim Beng Chee, CEO of CMA, sharing the concept of a 3G mall and CMA’s other strategic initiatives at the Forum

3G malls: Similar malls, different cities

At the Forum, Mr Lim also shared the concept of a 3G mall. This involves building modular malls with a similar design in different cities. Called the 3G mall, this method will see CMA’s average construction time shortened from three years to two years per mall.

"Building standardised shop units cuts down on design time and renovation costs, and are easier for retailers to lay out. Tenants will be able to secure space at multiple locations at one go," he elaborated. Mr Lim also highlighted that residents in the area will be able to use the mall atriums as event spaces. This will benefit retailers by drawing traffic into the mall.

Inspiring retailers' confidence

As part of the Forum, participants and the media were taken on tours of CapitaMall Jinniu and CapitaMall Shawan in Chengdu; and drove by the Raffles City and CapitaMall Tianfu sites there.Together with the discussion of a plethora of topics that ranged from China’s urban planning policies, Chinese consumer behaviour and shopper trends to the experience of partnering CMA, this Forum has helped many participating retailers see value in considering CMA as a viable business partner.

Ms Gayle Phua, Head of Business Development of Thai Express Concepts, a Singapore retailer, displayed this confidence saying, "What we saw in these two days does seem to paint certain potential. And having come here with CapitaMalls Asia, a Singapore company whose style we are familiar with, there’s an assurance that the rapport will be a little less of a hassle to worry about, apart from the other matters we have to consider before coming into the market."

Invited Singapore media on a tour of CMA’s shopping malls in Sichuan Province
Invited Singapore media on a tour of CMA’s shopping malls in Sichuan Province

Mr Michael Chew, General Manager of Precious Thots, also from Singapore, echoed Ms Phua’s sentiments in his comment. "China is a big market and we want to be sure before we come in, so this trip is quite an eye-opener. We definitely want to explore further, especially with CapitaMalls Asia. This will definitely be a place where we would like to be because we know CapitaMalls Asia and we would like to start with malls that we are familiar with."

At the close of the Forum, the growing confidence from participating retailers in both CMA and the growing China retail sector bodes well as CMA looks to double the number of its shopping malls in China from 53 to 100 in the next three to five years.

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