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Friday, 3 July 2015

(The Star) Malaysian Retailers Association cut outlook for third time this year


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA) have lowered the projected retail sales growth rate in 2015 for the third time from 4.9% to 4.0% as consumers hold back their spending due to higher costs of living, a weak Ringgit and higher cost of doing business.

In its Malaysia Retail Industry Report issued on Thursday, MRA said consumers had been holding back on spending since end of 2014 ahead of the Goods & Services Tax (GST), which was imposed on April 1 this year. 

“Further increases in cost of living in the near future will worsen it. Higher transportation costs as well as increased retail prices due to weak Ringgit and higher costs of doing business are expected in the second half of this year,” it said.

The MRA said retail sales grew 4.6% in the first quarter of 2015 (Q1, 2015) and turned negative –3% in Q2 and it expects a recovery in Q3 with growth of 4.8% and pick up to 6.9% in the final quarter. For the whole, year, growth is expected to be 4% only. 

The trade body expressed hope Malaysian consumers would return to retail shops to buy more goods during the third quarter of 2015. It expects the retail industry to grow by 4.8% during this period. 

“Malaysian consumers will get used to the GST by the last quarter of 2015. Retail spending will return to normal again by this period. This industry is expected to recover strongly with a 6.9% growth rate,” it said.

The MRA said in Q1, 2015, the retail industry saw an encouraging growth rate of 4.6% in retail sales, which a rebound from a contraction of 0.8% in the October-December of 2014. 

While the Q1, 2015 growth of 4.6% was higher than the Retail Group Malaysia’s expectations of 3.8%, this was lower than the average growth rate of 5.8% forecast by members of MRA in March 2015.

MRA said the introduction of GST from April 2015 was supposed to stimulate consumption during the first quarter of this year. However, Malaysian consumers were holding back on their spending due to the uncertainty with the implementation of GST.

Retail sales performance in January and February was below expectations despite the Chinese New Year festival, bonuses and the distribution of BR1M 4.0 to 7.2 million Malaysians. 

It noted Malaysian consumers were confused by the different public messages on the prices of retail goods and services after March 2015. Malaysians were hesitant to spend more despite lower petrol prices and electricity charges. 

However, consumer spending rose sharply during the last two weeks of March. This was because of more announcements made by private sector on the prices of retail goods and services from April 2015. 

The MRA pointed out consumers took advantage of the retail offers in anticipation of price increase after the implementation of GST. Retailers of big-ticket items were also clearing their old stocks aggressively with large discounts.

It also noted the retail sales grew at a slower pace of 4.6% in Q1, 2015 compared to overall GDP growth of 5.6%. 

The other specialty stores sub-sector reported a 7.8% decline in retail business in Q1, 2015 from a year ago, which was much steeper than in Q4 of 2014 (-6.7%) and growth of 3.5% a year ago. It projects a contraction of 12.6% in Q2, 2015.

These stores include retailers selling photographic equipment with photo processing services, sports-related goods, children-related goods, second-hand goods, health and fitness equipment as well as toys. 

Department store cum supermarkets reported stronger 14.7% growth (Q1, 2015) from 7.9% (Q4, 2014) and 6.8% growth a year ago. But for the Q2, 2015, it sees slower growth of 3.7%.

After a short recovery of a 7.9% growth (Q1, 2015), the department store operators expect business to return to red of -14.9% (Q2, 2015).

As for the supermarket and hypermarkets segment, which are selling mainly basic necessities, they recorded stronger growth of 5.1% (Q1, 2015) from 1% growth (Q4, 2014) but MRA sees this sector reversing into the red with a contraction of –1% in Q2, 2015.

Retailers in the fashion accessories sector, which recorded a 2.2% decline in Q4, 2014, reported a rebound 4.5% (Q1, 2015) but they are bracing from a decline in Q2, 2015 (-2.1%).

The furniture and electrical and electronics saw a 24.5% growth (Q1, 2015) ahead of the implementation of the GST in April but expect growth declining to 7.1% (Q2, 2015). 


(The Star) Ampang LRT Line extension on track

No delays: Zohari says the new trains for the Ampang LRT Line are being tested progressively.
No delays: Zohari says the new trains for the Ampang LRT Line are being tested progressively.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Prasarana Malaysia Bhd’s Ampang LRT line extension project is on track with the first phase set for launch on Oct 31, as scheduled.

“For Phase 2, the completion date for the project is on March 31, 2016. We are committed to deliver the project on time. Theres no issue of delay,” Prasarana group director of project development Datuk Zohari Sulaiman said.

Zohari, who is also CEO of Prasarana Rail and Infrastructure Projects Sdn Bhd, said the overall completion rate of Phase 1, which involved the opening of four new stations for the Ampang Line, was at 93%.

“We are very confident that we can meet the timeline. The four new stations – Awan Besar, Muhibbah, Alam Sutera and Kinrara BK5 along the Ampang LEP – will be opened for full service on Oct 31. The remaining stations under Phase 2 are almost 70% completed,” he added.

Zohari said the new trains for the Ampang LRT Line were being tested progressively and plans were afoot to organise a media briefing on the Ampang LEP in the coming weeks.

He was responding on a report quoting George Kent (M) Bhd chairman Tan Sri Tan Kay Hock that the company expected a year’s delay in the RM1.1bil Ampang LRT extension project, which was scheduled for completion in March next year.

“Everyone should just focus on the work at hand. With the aggressive mitigation and acceleration plans, we would be able to meet the target of the revenue service date,” Zohari said. — Bernama





(The Star) Cashless toll payments at five plazas

GEORGE TOWN: Toll payment will go cashless at five toll plazas in Penang and Kedah from Sept 9.

A PLUS Malaysia Bhd official confirmed that a message that has been circulating over Whatsapp that only Touch N Go cards and SmartTag devices could be used at the toll plazas at Bukit Kayu Hitam and Jitra at the North-South Expressway, Kubang Semang and Lunas at the Butterworth-Kulim Expressway, and the Penang Bridge.

He said the Association of Highway Concessionaires Malaysia would issue an official statement on the matter. The message was attributed to PLUS.

A motorist said Thais coming into Malaysia without the devices might have problems ­making payments at the Bukit Kayu Hitam toll plaza.


(The Edge) UEM Sunrise builds first landed homes in Puteri Harbour

NUSAJAYA: UEM Sunrise Bhd will launch its first landed residential development in Puteri Harbour this weekend.

The guarded and gated freehold development, named Estuari Gardens, has a gross development value (GDV) of RM7 billion, and spans 394.4 acres. The first phase of the project, costing RM634 million, consists of 350 units of 2-storey superlink houses on a 47.8-acre tract.

“We are excited about this landed development and understand that the market sentiment here likes landed residential properties,” said UEM Sunrise acting chief marketing officer Zadil Hanief Mohamad Zaidi on Wednesday.

“There isn’t any landed residential development in Puteri Harbour, and we believe Estuari Gardens is the next-most interesting thing that’s happening here.”

The 2-storey superlink units come in three types, with a built-up area of between 2,708 sq ft and 3,550 sq ft. The selling price starts at RM1.39 million.

Construction of the first phase, which began at the end of last year, has progressed 30%; completion is due in 2017.

To-date, the group has seen 500 expressions of interest, of which 10% are buyers, mainly from Johor, some of whom work in Singapore.

He added that Estuari Gardens will be developed in 10 phases over seven to 10 years.

Head of project JeffSaw Seong Keat said the entire residential development will see the creation of terraced houses, semi-detached houses, bungalows, zero-lot bungalows and some low-rise apartments, as well as a seven-acre neighbourhood centre comprising commercial units.

There will be 24-hour security, wide walkways and cycling paths, parks, landscaped open areas, children’s playground and outdoor gymnasium, with the streets designed for safety and privacy.

Saw said another attraction is Raffles American School, which is being built a two-minute drive away.

On the issue of tightening bank loans, Zadil explained that developers should work closely with banks to offer solutions to suit developers, banks and buyers.

“We want to help the first-time homebuyers and owner-occupiers,” said Zadil. UEM Sunrise has another 200-acre tract in Puteri Harbour, also planned for landed residential development, tentatively named Residential South. Details of the development are being finalised.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

(The Star) Luxury within your grasp

Granito @ Permai is the latest development by BSG Property consisting of upscale yet affordable condominiums in Penang.
Located in the thriving Permai Village township in Tanjung Bungah, it comprises twin 49-storey towers housing 980 residential units all sized at 864sq ft with three bedrooms.
The company’s business development manager and sales and marketing department head Chong Hock Aun said the residences would have modern aesthetics with clean, sleek lines and refined interiors.
“With its prime location and moderately-sized layout, it is ideal for young families as well as first-time and price-sensitive home seekers.
“Luxury comes in many ways, and where else in Penang can you find something so comfortable and exclusive, yet affordable and within reach,” Chong noted of Granito, which will be open for registration at the upcoming Star Property Fair 2015.
1 Granito Permai by BSG Property will put luxury within reach of many new home owners.
Granito @ Permai by BSG Property is strategically located in Tanjung Bungah, Penang.
Future residents of the high-rise, set for completion in 2019, will have serene rolling hills as a backdrop, and unobstructed views of the Andaman Sea from their lofty abodes.
They will also be pampered by full-fledged lifestyle facilities such as a swimming pool, gymnasium, library, outdoor and indoor play areas, lounge and landscaped garden.
The homes are also embraced by lush greenery and have round-the-clock security for residents’ peace of mind.
Granito will be situated right beside the Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, with a host of conveniences and services at its surroundings.
In close proximity is the Tenby Schools Penang, financial institutions, healthcare facilities, retail as well as food and beverage outlets.
Penang’s famed Batu Ferringhi beach is also a short drive away, as are the Tanjung Bungah market, Tesco Tanjung Pinang, Straits Quay Retail Marina and Permai Adventure Nature Park.
Visitors to the fair can also find out more about BSG Property’s other offerings like the Mira Residence, a pair of 32-storey high-rise towers with 322 elite residences, also in Permai Village.
Set for completion in 2016, its units come in nine unique layouts sized between 1,352sq ft and 3,642sq ft, and offer amazing views in every direction.
Buyers seeking a more central location in Penang can consider Middleton, which comprises two 26-story residential towers in the affluent neighbourhood of Minden Heights.
Featuring contemporary architectural design, it houses units sized at 1,409sq ft, with several versatile layout choices available. There are only five units per floor, ensuring a low-density environment.
Slated for completion in 2019, it will have extensive resort-style facilities along with panoramic views of nearby hills and the island’s cityscape.
It also has swift access to the Penang Bridge, Bayan Lepas FIZ and George Town.
There are also limited units of Oakridge – which was ranked No. 1 in Malaysia under the Construction Quality Assessment Sys-tem for superior workmanship – still available.
The three-storey semi-detached homes in Pantai Jerejak, Sungai Nibong, feature exquisite finishes throughout their spacious and practical interiors, high ceilings in the living and dining areas, and abundant space for outdoor landscaping.
Units have a gross floor area of 3,380sq ft with 4+1 bedrooms and six bathrooms, and have generous windows that facili-tate ample natural lighting and ventila-tion. They are already completed with Certificate of Completion and Compliance obtained.
All the developments are freehold. For more information, visit the company’s two sales galleries, The Galleria and Permai Galleria.
Otherwise, head to BSG Property’s booth (M1 & M3) during the fair at G Hotel and Gurney Plaza, Penang, from July 9 to 12 between 10am and 10pm daily.
The Star Property Fair, now into its 13th year, is the grandest property showcase in the northern region. This year, there will be more than 40 exhibitors participating.
There will also be talks and forums conducted by specialists in their respective fields to provide visitors with useful information on various property-related topics.
Admission is free and visitors stand a chance to win more than RM100,000 worth of prizes including five tablets and handphones daily.
For details, call Maggie Ang at 04-6473388 (ext 3023).

(The Star) Great site with high rental yield

Prospective property investors often look for projects that offer a high resale value or a good rental yield.
Among some of the best options for a good property for rental is somewhere near a university, which ensures a steady stream of students.
And one such property that investors should consider is the Lodge Residence by Putra Nilai Development Sdn Bhd.
Located in Putra Nilai and just within walking distance from the Nilai University, the student residence project would be featured at the upcoming Star Property Fair 2015 next week.
Featuring 928 units, the project offers seven types of floor plans. The floor plans are generally divided into four types of single-bed layout and three types of double-bed layout.
The layout area ranges from 143sq ft to 259sq ft and each unit comes with its own bathroom.
Prospective buyers can choose to lease out the units to the developer to gain rental yields for up to 12 years.
Other projects that would also be showcased by Putra Nilai Development during the fair include the Bellina Villas and Damai Floresta.
The Bellina Villas project presents an enclave of double-storey semi-detached homes with a huge land area of 12.19m x 30.48m, and is located next to a golf resort.
On the other hand, the Damai Floresta project offers two-and-a-half storey semi-detached and cluster homes in Putra Nilai, situated at Nilai Springs Golf and Country Club.
The semi-detached units comprise of a spacious 4,208sq ft while the cluster homes feature an equally sprawling 3,513sq ft.
For details of the projects, log on to putranilai.com.my or call 06-8501888.
Those who are interested could also head over to the Putra Nilai Development Sdn Bhd booth at the Star Property Fair at Gurney Plaza and G Hotel from July 9 to 12 between 10am to 10pm.
The Star Property Fair, now into its 13th year, is the grandest property showcase in the northern region.
This year, more than 40 exhibitors will be taking part in the four-day fair.
Visitors can also attend talks and forums conducted by specialists in their fields to get useful information on property-related topics.
Admission is free and visitors stand a chance to win more than RM100,000 worth of prizes daily including five tablets and/or handphones and lots of other attractive prizes.
For further details or enquiries, call Maggie Ang at 04-6473388 (ext. 3023)

(The Star) Big plans for the big city

Did you know that Malaysia is located 101 degrees east of Greenwich?
M101 Holdings Sdn Bhd, or Meridian 101 Degree, was named after Malaysia’s coordinates back in 2012 when its founders, Datuk Seth Yap Ting Hau and Datuk Chua Eng Pu, decided to enter the property market officially as a developer.
Despite being the new kids on the block, M101 Holdings is making waves in the property market with its plan to introduce a series of “small footprint, big statement” developments based on the concept of metropolitan living.
With projects M101 Dang Wangi and Bukit Bintang underway, M101 is set on advancing the real estate industry with a concept that it thinks will be able to draw foreign investors.
The founders had been involved in the real estate industry for a good numbers of years before the formation of M101 and the decision to enter the market officially as a developer materialised when both Yap and Chua saw the opportunity for growth in property development after the market rebounded in 2010.
Chua has 19 years of experience in property development and construction.
He was appointed managing director of Vision Development Concept Sdn Bhd in 1999 and managing director for Kejuruteraan Janaperak Sdn Bhd and Vision Contracts Two Sdn Bhd in 2000.
He successfully launched and completed flagship projects such as Anjung Tiara, Desa Tiara, Summit City, Desa Residensi Condominium, Taman Pagoh Indah, and Taman Jus Perdana to name a few, in conjunction with other prominent property developers in Malaysia.
Yap, on the other hand, graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2001 and was admitted to the Bar in England.
Upon his return to Malaysia, he was admitted to the Malaysian Bar in 2010.
In more than a decade practicing law, Yap has dealt with most of the banks in Malaysia through his specialty in property law.
A rendering of M101 Holding’s proposed project in Bukit Bintang, which is popular with tourists.
A rendering of M101 Holding’s proposed project in Bukit Bintang, which is popular with tourists.
He has also developed relationships across the retail and commercial property sectors around the region.
In 2012, the duo joined forces and founded M101 Holdings.
“The decision came after we saw an opportunity to build small, boutique buildings in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, a niche other developers were ignoring,” Chua said.
The company now has four projects underway in Kuala Lumpur as of this year.
“We see opportunities in small undeveloped parcel of lands in the city centre. The metropolitan living conceptualised by M101 encourages foreigners to invest in Malaysia.
“We rely on our instinct to make new markets or find untapped value in existing ones,” said Yap.
With plans for projects worth RM4bil in gross development value over the next three years, the company aims to launch 10 integrated commercial and retail developments featuring small, flexible offices, hotels, retail space and lifestyle amenities.
“We are looking at areas such as KLCC, Bukit Bintang and Raja Chulan, which draw tourists,” said Yap.
The company’s latest project will be located along Jalan Tun Razak, and will be “something different from other developments” in the area, according to the duo.
“We are also securing land along Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, in Kampung Attap and Kampung Baru. So, the next few years will be very exciting for us. We hope to complete all our projects by 2020,” said Yap.
The company has already started looking beyond Malaysian shores with two other cities in Asia in its sights.

(The Star) Safe and sound in Sri Hartamas

Need a place to store your valuables? You can now do so at G7 Safety Locker Sdn Bhd’s new branch at Plaza Damas 3 in Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur.
Priding itself in offering a secure and convenient place for storing valuables and vital documents, the location has 310 units of Chubb safes .
The safes are equipped with Safe Store Auto (SSA) technology, an automated self-service system that allows clients round-the-clock access, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is the first of its kind in South East Asia.
Other than a robotised, fully automated system, the safe room also has a dual control locking mechanism with unique keys and strict entry protocols. The room itself is built with extensive reinforcements and ultra strong panels 10 times stronger than reinforced concrete.
The facilities are also secured with an intrusion alarm and closed circuit television recordings linked to the police.
If that’s not enough to deter potential break-ins, there is also the bulletproof glass doors and biometric screening which only allows one person per entry at a time.
Speaking during the launch of the new location, G7 Safety Lockers Sdn Bhd director Jim Ching said this was their fourth outlet and the first to be opened in Kuala Lumpur.
A demonstration of the lockers’ safety features at the event.
A demonstration of the lockers’ safety features at the event.
The company has two outlets in Penang and one in Sibu, Sarawak which was first opened in 2012.
Ching said the concept came about after he noticed a demand for safe and secure storage, which some banks did not offer.
“There is a market for this in KL so we decided it was high time to bring it here,” said Ching, adding that there were plans for five more outlets over the next year.
Ravindran Gengadaran, South-East Asia regional director of Gunnebo AB, the Swedish parent company of Chubbsafes, said they were happy to provide the safes used in the location.
“Our safes are certified and tested by international agencies and are explosion resistant,” said Ravindran.
Customers renting the facilities are covered by specialist insurer Lloyd’s of London, with coverage of up to RM10mil.
To mark the outlet’s opening, G7 Safety Locker is offering a one-month promotion period. Those who sign a one-year contract will receive two months rent-free. Those signing for two years will get six months free and three years will get one year free.
G7 Safety Lockers is located at Lot B2-1, Block B, Plaza Damas 3, Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, Taman Sri Hartamas.
For details, call 03-6211 4896.

(The Star) Revamp plan a fitting way to usher in Raya

Courts Malaysia kicked off its “Senang Sahaja, Courts Ada” campaign with an extensive refurbishment plan.
“One of our key priorities this year is to refresh our brand and store after being part of Malaysian homes for 28 years.
“This is also to reaffirm our commitment to be the one-stop shopping destination for affordable home and lifestyle products,” said Courts Malaysia country chief executive officer Tim Luce.
With a total investment of RM15mil, the refurbishment will span 15 stores nationwide to provide customers a more engaging and intuitive shopping experience.
The first store to undergo the revamp was Courts Setapak, one of Courts’ oldest stores in Malaysia, resulting in a more modern exterior and new retail concepts.
The store features a 15% increase in its range of televisions while the air-conditioners, air purifiers and air coolers section underwent a 70% upsize with a bigger product display.
The electrical home appliances had a 30% expansion of product ranges, with designated product demonstration areas set up to educate customers on specific usages.
The Courts Setapak furniture floor features both modern and classic designs in 23 lifestyle galleries of attractively designed concepts.
The Courts Setapak furniture floor features both modern and classic designs in 23 lifestyle galleries of attractively designed concepts.
“There will be different products being demonstrated each week across multiple ranges to make the shopping experience for consumers a lot easier,” said Luce.
Besides introducing more accessories such as cushions, recliners, and bedding add-ons, the furniture floor features both modern and classic designs in 23 lifestyle galleries with attractive concepts.
There is a wide range of bed frames and mattress as well as accessories and furnishings enabling visitors to customise their bed.
There is also a customer lounge for visitors to rest and relax before continuing to shop.
The electrical home appliances at Courts Setapak has had a 30% expansion of product ranges.
The electrical home appliances at Courts Setapak has had a 30% expansion of product ranges.
Above all, the enhanced Courts Price Promise guarantees customers triple the price difference should they find a lower-priced product elsewhere.
“Malaysia will continue to be a key growth driver for Courts and despite the short-term macro-economic challenges, the business has started to see profitability as a result of our continuous stand for affordability and value.
“Together with our new brand ambassador Harith Iskandar,we are innovating customer engagement at various touchpoints from our advertisements to our staff uniform, customer-centric staff training and the store experience, resulting in a double-digit growth in traffic since then,” said Luce.
In line with Courts year-long community outreach programme, Rumah Amal Courts, a special auction, was held during the event.
A total of RM2,715 was raised from the auction and will be channelled to Rumah Tunas Harapan Payung in Negri Sembilan.
The air-conditioners, air purifiers and air coolers section in Courts Setapak underwent a 70% upsize, offering a wider range of products.
The air-conditioners, air purifiers and air coolers section in Courts Setapak underwent a 70% upsize, offering a wider range of products.
With Hari Raya around the corner, “Courts Rebut Ria, Senang Raya” offers customers up to 80% cash discounts, cash back of up to RM24,000 and petrol cards worth RM1,000.
Customers can also enjoy the “Buy now and pay after Raya” promotion to make preparing the home for the festive celebration hassle-free.
Courts will be giving away free tickets to watch Liverpool FC play at the Bukit Jalil Stadium on July 24.
For details, visit www.courts.com.my

(The Star) Smoother drive for Rawang residents

The RM250mil Jalan Rawang-Batu Arang (B27 road) expansion is under way and will take about three years to complete.
Once completed, motorists headed to Bandar Tasik Puteri from the NKVE Rawang toll should have a smoother drive.
The 4.6km road project will be undertaken by the state, assisted by the Public Works Department (JKR) and developers.
Rawang assemblyman Gan Pei Nei was given a briefing by JKR on the project.
A total of 19 developers in the area are contributing to the B27 Road Fund, which is expected to cost RM250mil.
“Currently, the Gombak Drainage and Irrigation Department is looking at the alignment of three rivers along the stretch of Sungai Bakau, Sungai Kundang and Sungai Gong,” she said.
A Traffic Impact Assessment showed 15,400 vehicles use the road daily.
Residents from Taman Velox, Taman Bayu Permai, Bandar Tasik Puteri, Bandar Country Homes, Kota Emerald, Kampung Sungai Bakau, Kampung Sungai Bakau Tambahan, Taman Desa Mas, Batu Arang, Puteri Heights, Desa Mutiara, Casa Ria, Saujana Rawang and Kota Bidari will benefit from the new road.
Phase One will stretch for 1.6km from near the NKVE Rawang toll to the Petronas station. It started in December.
Phase Two of the project, which will be done by developers, will involve building a bridge from the Petronas station to near the Shell station and started early last month.
For Phase Three from the Shell station to near the Bandar Tasik Puteri junction of 2.3km, land acquisition is being carried out by the Gombak Land office.
The daily traffic crawl from the NKVE Rawang toll.
The daily traffic crawl from the NKVE Rawang toll.
Sungai Bakau Village development committee and security (JKKK) chairman Paul Cha said that during rush hour, it takes at least half an hour from Rawang toll to his house in Kampung Sungai Bakau.
“When Sungai Bakau floods, the traffic gets worse,” he said.
Anggun 1 Kota Emerald Residents Association chairman Ching Jih Wen, 54, said the project was long overdue.
“Currently, the contra flow helps but it is not a long-term solution,” he said.
Jalan Desa 3 Bandar Country Homes Residents Association chairman Nahanthiran Sellamuthu, 61, said it was about time that the government fulfilled its promise to build the road.
“The bottleneck at the NKVE bridge is the main concern,” he said.