Monday, 31 December 2012

(BUSINESS TIMES) Prasarana expects a busier ride in 2013

IT was a mysterious year. To the Chinese, unpredictability comes with the Year of the Water Dragon. The advice to weather the year was to relax and take things calmly as they came. The Dragon years occur after every 12 years but Water Dragon years only occur every 60 years. The last Water Dragon year was in 1952.

To fans of the Mayan calendar, they were predicting the worst. The date of the dreaded day was December 21 2012. It came and went by. Local daily and foreign media did a story on the expected Armageddon. As it turned out, there is more to the mysterious Mayan calendar. Life continues and soon the year 2013 will begin its chapter.

For the urban rail public transport system owner Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, 2012 has been an interesting and challenging year of sorts. Its long-term strategic plan dubbed as the Go Forward Plan (GFP) entered its final leg in 2012. The GFP did register some successes but the journey to be the preferred urban public transport system continues. Prasarana's GFP 2.0 will kick off in 2013 with a host of strategies ready to be deployed to further improve the country's public transport system while strengthening the company's position as a business concern.

The year 2012 did see Prasarana officially launching its Line Extension Project (LEP), which will extend the reach of the existing Kelana Jaya LRT Line and the Ampang LRT Line. The new alignments - a 17km elevated track extending from Kelana Jaya station to Putra Heights and another 17.7km alignment from Sri Petaling station to Putra Heights - support the existing LRT lines of Ampang and Kelana Jaya that serve some 400,000 people daily since they commenced operations in 1996 and 1998 respectively.

Like all development projects, there are bound to be those who have to endure the most discomfort while the projects are being built. There were complaints of traffic congestion, damaged roads, dusty environment and noise pollution due to the LEP. Prasarana met with the complainants and worked out solutions to minimise their discomfort. Work on the project cannot stop and have to move on as the LEP is the long-term solution to resolve the escalating traffic congestion issue in the Klang Valley.

Prasarana's automated fare collection (AFC) system, which was introduced in July 2010, went bigger in 2012. From March 1 2012, a passenger can ride on a single fare to utilise the services of the LRT and the KL Monorail. The first phase of integration involving the Ampang and Kelana Jaya LRT Lines was undertaken in November 2011.

A new urban public transport system by Prasarana was also announced in 2012. Under a Public-Private Partnership Initiative, Prasarana and Sunway Bhd will be developing a bus rapid transit (BRT) system to service the areas of Bandar Sunway and Subang Jaya. The project is expected to be completed concurrently with the LEP, thus giving the Klang Valley a seamless, modern and integrated urban public transport system. This would be in line with one of the National Key Results Area to further improve the country's urban public transport system and ultimately shaping the country as a developed and high-income nation come 2020.

Prasarana also launched RapidKuantan in 2012. It is a new public bus service for the booming town of Kuantan and its sub-urban areas. With the launch, the public bus services of Prasarana are now in Penang, Pahang, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. More cities are expected be serviced by Prasarana as announced by the Prime Minister when tabling the 2013 Budget.

It has been a busy 2012 for Prasarana. While it was not a smooth ride, the company persevered and managed to keep on track with its objectives. A busier year is expected for Prasarana in 2013 as the construction of the LEP and the BRT moves into high gear.


(The Star) Property prices likely to plunge if damage worsens

KUALA LUMPUR: Property prices in Bukit Setiawangsa will plunge if the condition of the damaged wall worsens, say real estate agents.
Jane Fong, from Pan Properties, said the price of the affected bungalows in the danger zone could dive by 50% should the wall collapse.
“Nobody will go in and buy anymore. Bank valuation will also be a problem now as they (the banks) will not give out a loan for property there,” she said.
She said a bungalow above the wall costs over RM2mil while a two-storey terrace house in Puncak Se­­­­­tiawangsa costs between RM600,000 and RM700,000.
On houses outside the danger area, Fong said prices were likely to stagnate for awhile but would rebound after a year.
Another agent, Nelson Chan, of Real Estate Finders, who is familiar with Bukit Setiawangsa property, said his clients were worried the incident would drive away buyers.
“It is definitely a concern as the environment of the area will change when repairs start,” said Chan, who estimates a 10% drop in house prices in the area.
He said a Bukit Setiawangsa terrace house costs RM800,000 while a bungalow carries a RM1mil price tag.
“It will be harder now for people to buy a house here as banks will be more hesitant to lend,” added Chan, citing the 2008 Bukit Antarabangsa landslide as an example.
“It is a nice place but the risk is there now.”
Source: The Star

(The Star) Waterplexx 5D the first of its kind in Malaysia

<b>Proud achievement:</b> Leow (right) receiving the Malaysia Books of Records certificate from Ooi while Miss Tourism International delegates look on.
Proud achievement: Leow (right) receiving the Malaysia Books of Records certificate from Ooi while Miss Tourism International delegates look on.
Sunway Lagoon announced that the theme park’s very own Waterplexx 5D has entered the Malaysia Book of Records 2012 as the first in Malaysia, listed under the building and structure category.
The Waterplexx 5D is a water-based attraction which engages the rider’s sense of sight, sound and touch.
With a capacity of 36 people per ride, the 10-minute ride will bring riders through an action journey, experiencing everything from gusts of wind to a powerful gale.
“Sunway Lagoon is proud and happy that Waterplexx 5D made it into theMalaysia Book of Records.
“To us, it is not only about getting the award. It is the acknowledgement and recognition of our achievement,” said Sunway Lagoon assistant general manager Adron Leow.
“After 20 years of being a part of Malaysia, the Waterplexx 5D adds to our other attractions.
“Entering the Malaysia Book of Records 2012 is just the beginning. We look forward to introducing even more unique and exciting attractions for our visitors, with the ultimate aim of achieving a Guinness World Recordfor our attractions,” said Leow.
Present at the ceremony was Malaysia Book of Records founder Datuk Danny Ooi.
In conjunction with the award presentation, 55 delegates of the Miss Tourism International 2012/13 were given the opportunity to experience the ride.
The attraction is open daily from 10am to 6pm. For details, call 03-5639 0000, visit
Source: The Star

(The Star) RM1.5b theme park for Morib

PETALING JAYA: Sentoria Harta Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sentoria Group Bhd, is set to develop a RM1.5bil theme park in Morib, Selangor in a joint venture with a government-linked fund, a source said.
The theme park, called Morib Beach Resort City, will be developed over the next eight to 10 years.
Designed as an integrated resort city, the theme park will consist of a water theme park, a safari park, a resort and convention centre and a boutique hotel. The 121ha land, estimated to be worth some RM20mil, belongs to the government-linked fund and will be developed on a profit-sharing basis.
“The government-linked fund chose Sentoria because of the success of its Bukit Gambang Water Theme Park in Pahang,” the source said. Sentoria is the developer and operator of the Bukit Gambang Resort City in Kuantan.
With work set to begin in the first half of 2013, the first phase of the Morib development will be the water theme park and accommodation, followed by the safari park.
The entire development will comprise serviced apartments, resort villas and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) facilities.
The land is sited close to the Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya vicinities.
“Based on the joint-venture agreement, Sentoria Harta will develop the land at its own cost and expense, including the land premium. The return on gross development value (GDV) is expected to generate between 20% and 30% in gross profit margin,” the source said.
He said Sentoria had two options for repayment of the land. It could either pay off the land upon completion of 50% of the development, or it could pay off upon obtaining all the relevant approvals and consent in respect of the project.
Earlier this month, Sentoria announced it was undertaking a RM315mil mixed development in Pahang. Sited on 84ha owned by Fajar Pertiwi Sdn Bhd, Taman Bukit Rangin 2 will be developed into 2,500 residential and commercial units by its wholly owned subsidiary Sentoria Alam Sdn Bhd.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

(BUSINESS TIMES) Aeon to build shop, dept store

KUALA LUMPUR: AEON Co (M) Bhd plans to build a shopping centre and a departmental store on a piece of land it is buying from Lebar Daun Development Sdn Bhd and Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor for RM90.01 million in Shah Alam. 

The land works out for RM110 per sq ft.

In its filing to the stock exchange yesterday, AEON said the acquisition is in line with its strategy to accelerate its retail business expansion by opening of new shopping centres and outlets.


(BUSINESS TIMES) Property players upbeat, credit resilient Malaysia's economy

HOME DRIVEN: Sector expected to do better next year, thanks to domestic investments

Property developers are general optimistic on the property market outlook for 2013, as Malaysia targets a five per cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) despite weak exports.

Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz has reiterated her optimism that the economy will continue to do well in 2013 despite challenges in the global economy.

The GDP growth target of five per cent will be made possible by the resilience displayed by the domestic economy, fuelled by local private investments.

Mah Sing Group Bhd group managing director Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum is certain that the overall property industry will do better next year as it is highly dependent on the domestic market.

"As long as the properties have good concepts, are in the right location, and they cater to market demand, it will do well. We are supported by young demographics which continue to form new households, high savings rate and low unemployment rate.

"As long as income remains intact and properties remain affordable, the local property market should continue to remain resilient and serve as a hedge against inflation," Leong told Business Times.

He expects the residential market to continue being the main driver for property sales next year, similar to previous years' trends.

Leong said Mah Sing will be focusing on landed residential projects and niche size high-rise projects, which amounts to 77 per cent of the group's RM3 billion sales target for 2013.

In the commercial segment, he said retail offices in good schemes, smaller SoHo (small office/home office) and SoVo (small office/versatile office) properties would also do well due to the affordable price points and lack of supply in selected locations, especially in integrated development projects.

"We are also confident about mass market housing for the middle-income class where there is a pent-up demand for basic shelter. Mah Sing will continue its land banking exercises next year," Leong said.

Mah Sing is one of the more active developers in terms of landbanking. It set a RM5 billion gross development value landbanking target for 2012 but had exceeded that by 18 per cent.

Meanwhile, Sunway REIT Management Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Jeffrey Ng expects the office sub-sector to remain challenging as a result of oversupply situation and stiff competition.

He said rentals are expected to remain stagnant or on a declining trend.

On demand side, it will be driven by relocation of tenants from older office buildings to newer towers with better specifications.

Ng also expects more competition in the hospitality sector with the incoming supply of five-star hotels such as St Regis and Banyan Tree.

"More supply equates to more competitive environment. Under such circumstances, it is the survival of the fittest where hotel operators with strong brandname and track records will have competitive advantage over other hotel operators," he said.

(NST) Expansion of landbank augurs well for Sentoria

LANDBANK expansion and new attractions at its theme park will continue to support Sentoria Group Bhd's future earnings, a research house said.

Pahang-based Sentoria is a property developer with total landbank of 429.2ha and owner of the Bukit Gambang Resort City (BGRC) in Kuantan.

Its subsidiary, Sentoria Alfa Sdn Bhd, has acquired an additional 72ha land for RM37.2 million, which is adjoining with the company's existing land in BGRC.

SJ Securities said out of the 72ha, 20ha will be used for further expansion of Bukit Gambang Safari Park, 20ha for tourism-related re-tail commercial development and the balance of 32ha for residential and support industries.

"We expect the group to secure more landbank for future development to enhance the performance of its property development division," the research house said.

SJ Securities said the high take-up rate under property development division also augurs well for the company, with most of the units of completed and ongoing properties at BGRC, Pajam and Kuantan having been sold with total take-up rate of about 80 per cent.

"We believe that all units will be sold out soon.

"The total gross development value of the upcoming projects within and outside Bukit Gambang are estimated at RM542 million within the next five years."

It added that the Global Heritage project at Bukit Gambang is one of the company's eye catching and most attractive and innovative five-star villas.

There are 11 themes of five-star villas and a luxurious boutique hotel is within walking distance to Bukit Gambang.

The estimated gross development value is RM335 million from a total of 763 villas.

The Global Heritage, which is expected to be completed by 2015, is a good investment opportunity for the individual investors due to the advantage of sale and leaseback strategy, SJ Securities said.

For the fourth quarter of its year ended 2012, Sentoria recorded 14 per cent higher revenue to RM43.92 million from RM38.49 million in the previous quarter.

Property development contributed about 75 per cent of the total revenue.

Group net profit for the quarter surged 28.73 per cent to RM16.79 million from RM13.04 million in the preceding quarter, buoyed by tax incentive on its leisure and hospitality segment.


(NST) MRT project picks up speed

Over the past 12 months:

JAN 16

To encourage more members of the community to take up cycling, the Putrajaya Corporation is upgrading bicycle lanes. The cycling lanes will be connected to eight public parks around Putrajaya, namely Taman Botani, Taman Warisan Pertanian, Taman Wawasan, Taman Wetland, Taman Ekuestrian Putrajaya, Taman Putra Perdana, Taman Rimba Alam, and Taman Selatan and is expected to boost tourism in Putrajaya.

FEB 25

Devotees of Amitabha Temple in Jalan Ampang protested against the demolition of the 160-year-old house of worship to make way for the proposed Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Expressway. They had called for the temple to be spared as it had historical value.


Subang Jaya Municipal Council and its synergy partner, Universiti Putra Malaysia, embarked on their green initiative with the launch of Serdang Greentown as the first "Biomass Town in Malaysia". It was chosen as it is being developed with the aim to preserve and conserve the environment.

Together, they will work closely in the areas of community service, environment, engineering, green city, safe town and environment beautification. The following month, the council became the first in the country to venture in both vermicomposting and anaerobic digestion biogas.

MARCH 2012

It was all systems go for the Sungai Buloh-Kajang My Rapid Transit line ground works. Covering 51km, the alignment starts from Sungai Buloh, cutting through the Kuala Lumpur city centre to Kajang. It will have a 9.5km underground tunnel between Jalan Semantan in Damansara Heights and Taman Maluri, Cheras. It is scheduled for completion in 2017.


The Kelana Jaya LRT extension project in Persiaran Kewajipan started on March 15. Works on the facilities included site clearing, piling and the construction of piers.

The extension begins at Kelana Jaya station and passes through 13 new stations, including Subang Jaya and USJ before ending at Putra Heights, covering a distance of 17km. Meanwhile, the Ampang Line extension line will stretch to Putra Heights with a 17.7km of elevated track and passing through high-density residential areas such as Sri Petaling, Bandar Kinrara and Puchong. There will be 11 new stations. Extension project on both lines is expected to complete in 2014.

MAY 12,

The long-awaited redevelopment of the Kampung Kerinchi flats finally took off with Federal Territory and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin at the ground-breaking ceremony. The ceremony was witnessed by 432 homeowners of the redevelopment project called Kerinchi Residences.

Developed by Suez Domain Sdn Bhd, Kerinchi Residences is made up of seven blocks of apartments, of which one, with 472 units, will be allocated for the Kampung Kerinchi residents.


Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin announced that residents of the Hundred Quarters in Brickfields will be vacated once the new ones in Jalan Ang Seng is completed.

The relocation will be facilitated by the Prime Minister's Department property management division. Hundred Quarters was built by the British colonial government in 1915 for civil servants. The new site spans over 1.4ha. It will have a multipurpose hall, surau, open space, and a 17-storey apartment block. There will be 212 units including eight disabled-friendly units with a built-up area of 111sq m each.


The 50-year-old Chow Kit market will be redeveloped into a modern market with more facilities, at the cost of about RM200 million. Covering an area of 23,225 sq m, it will be renamed Jalan Raja Bot Market upon completion in 2017.

It will adopt green technology for efficient maintenance, equipped with solar panels and a rainwater harvesting system. The market was last upgraded 25 years ago.


Kuala Lumpur received its new mayor following the departure of Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail whose term ended on July 15. Successor Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib's term took effect on July 19, will last for two years. Phesal was the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing secretary-general.


The development of an office tower beside the Kompleks Dayabumi will be another landmark in the city's skyline.

The office tower project, being developed by KLCC Property Holdings Bhd, is part of the Kompleks Dayabumi's City Point annexed building redevelopment plan which will also include renovations works of the Kompleks Dayabumi building. Renovations works on the Kompleks Dayabumi main building will involve refurbishment of both its common and corporate lobbies.

OCT 2, 2012

Datuk Mohamad Roslan Sakiman ended his term after serving as the PJ mayor for six consecutive years. He assumed his new roles at the SUK state government office as both the state's deputy secretary 1 (development) and director for the State Economic Planning Unit.

However, Roslan's departure sparked tension among councillors who objected to the transfer as they alleged it went against the Local Government Act 1976 in reference to Mayor's appointment. Others believe that Roslan's new appointment should be a promotion instead of a lateral transfer.

OCT 16

The Jalan Sultan MRT track alignment development grouses, raised by property owners, were finally appeased with the signing of the Points of Agreement (POA) between the owners and MRT Corp.

The POA will form the foundation of the legally-binding Mutual Agreement between both parties which will allow the MRT tunnel to operate with private properties above ground.

With the Mutual Agreement, it will not be compulsory to acquire private properties above the MRT tunnel, allowing government to stop its land acquisition exercise in the area.


Acknowledging the difficulties of middle-income earners to purchase homes in the city due to the soaring prices of houses, City Hall has embarked on the development of an affordable middle-cost housing scheme which is slated to price each unit below RM400,000. Discussions on a joint-development effort between City Hall and private developers was carried out, however, the details relating to the housing project design and plans have yet to be disclosed.

AUG 11

The V3 package of the MRT Sungai Buloh to Kajang project, which comprises the development of a 6km alignment track linking the three MRT stations, namely, The Curve, 1Utama Shopping Centre and TTDI, had started.

The RM816 million project awarded to Mudajaya Corporation Bhd for the construction of the three stations is expected to complete by 2016. The stations will serve both residential and nearby commercials areas such as Damansara Perdana,


(NST) Cost of bridge to be recovered by 2023

SECOND PENANG BRIDGE: Company will depend on toll revenue

JAMBATAN Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB) aims to recover the RM4.5 billion construction cost of the Second Penang Bridge within 10 years of the start of operations.

Its managing director, Datuk Dr Ismail Mohamed Taib, was positive that the construction cost would be recovered within the timeframe due to the rapid development in the surrounding areas.

He said the Batu Kawan and Balik Pulau areas would benefit from the Second Penang Bridge as economic activities become more focused in the districts.

"The (Federal) Government wants the development in the state to be balanced. Currently, it is concentrated in northern Penang, namely George Town and Butterworth," he said.

The Second Penang Bridge, which connects Batu Kawan on the mainland and Batu Maung on the island, when completed by September next year, will be the longest in Southeast Asia with a total length over water of 16.9km.

It will be a seismic-resistant bridge when completed, able to withstand tremors of an 8.2 Richter-scale earthquake and epicentre about 300km away.

JKSB aimed to achieve 90 per cent progress by the end of this year and expects the bridge to be opened to the public by November next year, said Ismail.

The company, Isamil added, would be depending on toll collection for its revenue and expects an average of 25,000 users per day.

"We only get 20 per cent of the traffic from the first Penang bridge. We would like to increase the share by 15 per cent annually."

Ismail said the company was in the midst of upgrading the Tun Lim Chong Eu expressway.

"There will be an increase in traffic on the new bridge after the upgrading works. Road users will find it convenient to get to George Town from the second Penang bridge.

"The development of the Batu Kawan Industrial area and Bandar Cassia will benefit both the Second Penang Bridge and the area, too."

Asked on the toll rates, Ismail said it is likely to be set at RM7.

"In the concessionaire agreement, we have to make sure the toll rate for the Second Penang Bridge and the First Penang Bridge is the same."

JKSB was established in July 2008 as the concessionare for the Second Penang Bridge and is wholly-owned by the Ministry of Finance Inc.

The company is responsible for the construction, management, operation and maintenance of the Second Penang Bridge.

The project is divided into three phases, with the first costing RM2.2 billion, the second RM1.55 billion and the third, RM750 million. Bernama

(NST) PKNS draws flak over pricey homes

BAFFLING: Apartment units were upgraded to high-cost status

SHAH ALAM: The Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) is under fire again for allegedly changing the status of an apartment project in Section 18 here, from medium to high cost when the project is already under way.

Selangor Youth Secretariat (Serang) chairman Budiman Mohd Zohdi yesterday questioned the status of the 60-unit apartment project by the state subsidiary on Lot 103 in Jalan Pinang Raja 18/2, here, which was initially listed as medium cost in the construction signboard.

However, once work started, he said the sign was replaced with a new one, stating that the project was for high-cost apartment units.

"We want to ask PKNS why the company decided to change the status of the project when the earlier plan was to build medium-cost apartment units."

Budiman claimed that the apartment units were initially priced between RM70,000 and RM100,000.

However, after the change of status, the starting price was from RM430,000 each.

"We were shocked when we learned that the apartments, which are scheduled to be launched in February next year, will be sold at a starting price of RM430,000 each.

"How can the young in Selangor afford to buy this property if the starting price is so high?

"The state has proved that they are not interested in helping young people own property."

Budiman said the Selangor government and PKNS owed the people of Selangor, especially the youth, an explanation on the change of status.

"We challenge the Selangor government to explain the change of status. For whom is the project for?"

Earlier, Serang highlighted the conflicting data given by the state government on the number of low-and medium-cost houses built in the state.

He said they had yet to get a satisfactory answer.


Friday, 28 December 2012

(BUSINESS TIMES) Malaysian economy to remain resilient

It is believed that the uncertainties and volatility of the global economy will spill over into first quarter 2013 as the resolve for the eurozone debt crisis remains slow and the continent is in the early stages of going through a double-dip.

However, should the US iron out the looming fiscal cliff threat, it will be able to inject some much needed stability to the global economic climate.

For Malaysia, our economy as a whole is fairly diversified and is likely to remain reasonably resilient.

Additionally, the implementation of the Economic Transformation Programme is expected to help bolster the country's economic growth.

On the equity market specifically, IPO activities on Bursa Malaysia will continue to be high in 2013 as liquidity in Malaysia remains strong.

It has been announced that Tune Insurance and KLCC's Stapled REIT could hit the market by early 2013.

It was also reported in some media reports that Malakoff will be re-listed and we can potentially see the listing of 1MDB and Sarawak Energy.

While the sentiments remain cautious pre-general election, stocks with good fundamentals and reasonable pricing will continue to do well.

Investment and trading sentiments will turn around post elections.

The recent trading volume and value are at the lower end of their historical ranges. However, this is pretty much in line with the low historical volatility readings of the FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (FBM KLCI).

Currently, the historical volatility of the FBM KLCI is hovering below its historical average of 9.1 per cent. Hence, there is still plenty of room for the volatility to increase.

While this could cause a reversal in the underlying up-trend, it will also improve trading activities as well.

2013 will be a landmark year for the Kenanga Group as we celebrate our 40th anniversary.

Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd opened its doors in 1973 as a stockbroking company and has been growing from strength to strength over the years.

Today, it is the largest independent investment bank in terms of trading value and volume, and one of the top three brokerage houses in Malaysia.

As we enter the New Year, our focus rests firmly on accelerating the growth of the enterprise.

The writer is the group managing director of K&N Kenanga Holdings Bhd


(The Edge) Imperio Mall retail units launched at Hatten City

PETALING JAYA: Melaka-based Hatten Group Sdn Bhd recently launched retail units for sale at Imperio Mall, part of the developer’s Hatten City mixed development project in the historical city of Melaka.

Situated within the commercial area of Melaka Raya and just mere minutes away from Unesco World Heritage sites in Melaka, Hatten City is said to be the largest new development in Melaka with a gross development value (GDV) of RM2.5 billion. It was first launched in April last year, when the eight-level Elements Mall and the two-tower 45-storey Silverscape residences were opened for sale. Elements Mall has 837 shop lots ranging from 102 sq ft to 11,000 sq ft, while Silverscape comprises 760 apartment units. So far, 85% of Elements Mall and 80% of Silverscape have been sold.

When completed, the 25-acre Hatten City will have a net development area of 6.5 million sq ft, with about 3,300 residential units and 3,800 retail units in total.

Imperio Mall itself offers 750 retail units, housed in over seven levels, to house both local and international fashion brands. The developer is offering a sale and leaseback scheme with guaranteed returns for two years. With unit sizes from 120 sq ft, the units are tagged from RM1,600 psf to RM3,500 psf. Imperio Mall has a total net lettable area of 350,000 sq ft.

Imperio Mall is the retail portion of the mixed-use 3.5-acre Imperio@Hatten City that has an estimated GDV of RM600 million. Besides the seven retail floors (Imperio Mall), there will also be seven levels of car parking and serviced apartments housed in two 19-storey blocks. The serviced apartments, known as Imperio Residence, will be launched for sale in June 2013.

There will be a total of 936 apartment units at Imperio Residence to be sold at an indicative price of RM800 psf. Hatten Group managing director Colin Tan said facilities include world-class sports and spa facilities such as a sky gym overlooking the infinity pool, which fronts the sea on one end and the city on the other.

“Residents will also enjoy classy party lounges, convenient multi-function rooms, spacious BBQ decks for gatherings or celebrations as well as a reading area on the top-floor viewing deck,” he said. 

Tan is banking on the tourism sector in Melaka to benefit the local property sector. According to Tan, the tourism industry in Melaka is expected to continue booming. Tourist arrivals in Melaka have increased from 8.9 million in 2009 to 12.1 million in 2012, an increase of 36%.

“The growing tourist influx will boost the local residential property market as residential units can be rented out to tourists or be transformed into vacation homes for foreigners. Prices of retail shop lots in Melaka have also seen a significant increase in value, up to a high of RM3,200 psf,” he said.

Hatten Group’s first project was to revive the previously abandoned Dataran Pahlawan in 2004. The group consequently developed a mixed development opposite Dataran Pahlawan called Hatten Square. It includes a 710-room four-star hotel called Hatten Hotel, which is situated above Hatten Square and was completed in June and started operations in September. Hatten Hotel has an average occupancy rate of 75%.

Next to be launched in Hatten City after Imperio will be a commercial component called Highstreet and high-rise residence Ivory Cove.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

(The Star) Malim Nawar road users urge authorities to fix depression quickly

Road users in Malim Nawar, especially motorcyclists, are annoyed that lorries transporting sand are exacerbating the problem of potholes at the town near Kampar.
Senior citizen Yen Jamaludin, 64, said the lorries also contributed to broken road surfaces along road shoulders.
“I don’t think the roads here are designed to sustain the weight of heavy vehicles.
“Sand mining operators should consider reducing the tonnage of their lorries, which also stir the dust each time they pass by,” he told The Star.
Yen, who travels by motorcycle, said he had driven into potholes numerous times.
For the Rela volunteer, there is nothing worse than getting into an accident because of potholes.
“There is nothing between you and the ground to absorb the impact.
“Thankfully, so far, I have managed to avoid getting into painful accidents,” he said.
Another motorcyclist Mohd Yusuf Pandak Abdullah echoed the sentiments.
He said motorcyclists were more vulnerable to the dangers posed by potholes on the road compared to those in other vehicles.
“The motorcycle might flip over and throw its rider and pillion rider onto the road.
“I hope the authorities will immediately repair the potholes before fatal crashes take place.
“In the meantime, we have to slow down and be alert while making sure our machines are in top condition all the time,” he said.
The 56-year-old also complained that the potholes made their tyre treads wear out faster.
“Bald tyres can lead to fatal accidents for those on motorcycles, especially when travelling on wet roads.
“Tyres are not cheap nowadays and the better quality ones can cost as much as RM100 a piece,” said Mohd Yusuf, who lives in Kampung Tanjung Bangkong.
S. Maniam, a dragon fruit farm worker, said he could not remember the last time he saw workers repairing the roads.
“The authorities should take this matter seriously because the treacherous holes would become bigger if left as that.
“Otherwise, I think we should be compensated for the damage caused to our motorcycles due to the potholes,” said the 30-year-old.
Kinta district engineer Abu Bakar Mohd Said said the public could report cases of damaged roads, including potholes and other pavement defects such as cracks, to the Public Works Department hotline at 1300-88-8557 or to the Kinta District Council.
“Complaints can also be submitted online via the department’s website
“We will usually respond to any complaints 24 hours within receiving them as it is imperative for roads to be safe for users,” he said, but declined to elaborate on how often the department received such complaints.

(The Star) MPSJ addresses heavy traffic, garbage collection and development plans

According to schedule: Construction of the Kelana Jaya LRT extension project has been going smoothly although it is causing prolonged traffic snarl in Subang Jaya.
According to schedule: Construction of the Kelana Jaya LRT extension project has been going smoothly although it is causing prolonged traffic snarl in Subang Jaya.
Waste collection in Selangor took centrestage at the end of last year as the state government took over the garbage collection service from Alam Flora and the start of 2012 saw many local councils working to iron out the hiccups of the changeover.
Most of the Alam Flora contractors continued providing their services but by March this year, many of them had been changed because they were not performing up to par.
The Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) was dealing with hundreds of complaints on waste collection in the first week of March and had to bring in back-up contractors to clear the backlog of rubbish.
The number of complaints gradually decreased as the new contractors eased into their job scope but not leaving anything to chance, Bandar Puteri 8 Residents’ Association mooted the idea to allow residents to evaluate the services of cleaning and garbage contractors before they were paid by the council.
This evaluation system will only work for RAs which are active but for now, the council has yet to implement the system in other neighbourhoods.
Meanwhile, residents in Subang Jaya, which has long been infamous for its traffic congestion, have had to brace themselves for worsening conditions as the construction works for the LRT extension commenced early this year
The traffic snarl along Persiaran Kewajipan has gotten from bad to worse with the closure of lanes on either side of the arterial road, and the construction work is slowly making its way towards the SS15 area.
To alleviate congestion, MPSJ has worked closely with Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd to map out traffic diversion routes and identify alternative routes such as the opening of a U-turn along Jalan Kemajuan in SS17.
The temporary U-turn sparked a debate among the community about the safety aspects but it was a much needed relief for SS17 residents who no longer have to endure the long wait at the Persiaran Jengka intersection.
A proposed redevelopment of the Grand Dorsett hotel took centrestage in May as residents from SS12 and its surrounding areas protested the additional block of hotel suites after finding out that the units were sold.
The parking requirements for hotel suites differ from residential units and residents fear that if the sold units were occupied, cars would end up parked haphazardly along the roads.
Adding to their concern was traffic congestion because the only access into the area from Persiaran Kewajipan is SS12/1 and that is already slow-moving even in its current condition.
The month of May also saw an outcry from hikers at the Ayer Hitam Forest in Puchong who were denied entry by security guards one Saturday morning.
The forest was technically under the jurisdiction of the Selangor Forestry Department and the Selangor government had granted an 80-year lease to Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in 1996 for education and research in forestry.
Technically, the forest reserve was not opened to the public but many hikers would enter through an opening at the western border in Taman Wawasan 5/1, Puchong, and the incident prompted Kinrara assemblyman Teresa Kok to call for a dialogue between hikers, the Forestry Department and UPM’s Forestry Faculty.
While it is understandable that the public needs their recreational space, but they must also understand why the UPM faculty is protective over the well-being of the forest.
Besides more than 800 students who use the forest as an external laboratory, the teaching staff use the forest to conduct research and allowing unrestricted, hence uncontrolled access to the forest not only leads to the degradation of the forest but could also affect research data.
Subang Jaya ended the year in the limelight with the sighting of a Virgin Mary image on one of the window panes at the Sime Darby Medical Centre.
Hundreds of Catholic devotees and curious onlookers flocked to the hospital to catch a glimpse of the “apparition” and the glass panes have since been moved to Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Klang.
Looking ahead, residents in Subang Jaya and Puchong could be dealing with more traffic diversions and lane closures as the LRT construction works go into full swing in 2013.

(The Star) Heavy vehicle ban to be enforced next year

To curb the notorious traffic congestion at Persiaran Kewajipan and Persiaran Tujuan, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) had proposed an order to limit heavy vehicles from plying the main roads during peak hours on weekdays in September
The Road Transport Order (Heavy Vehicle Ban) (Subang Jaya Municipal Council) 2012 is to limit heavy vehicles with a 10,000kg load capacity plying the main roads from 6.30am to 9.30am and from 4.30pm to 7.30pm on weekdays.
However, the order, initially set to be enforced on Oct 20, will only be enforced next year so road users will have a longer grace period to get used to it.
The order mooted by MPSJ under Section 70 (2) of the Road Transport Act 1987 is to also ensure the safety of road users.
Meanwhile, council officers were placed at five key areas, which included Kesas Highway-Summit USJ intersection, Kelana Link, USJ Summit bus stop, SS17 and USJ 21 to monitor traffic.
It was reported that an average of 25 heavy vehicles were using the main roads during peak hours in the five areas daily. Several signboards had been put up to alert motorists.
The move to implement the order received mixed reactions from affected stakeholders.
Most residents were happy that the council had taken measures to address the traffic snarl while some residents’ associations representatives expressed concern that the order was just a temporary solution that would probably cause delay in the completion of Kelana Jaya LRT extension project.
The Pan-Malaysia Lorry Owners Association president Jong Foh Jit said it would be an extra burden for lorry owners and hoped the government would consider the difficulties faced by lorry owners should the order be implemented.
Those caught flouting the order can be slapped with a compound not exceeding RM300; if convicted in court, the offender can be fined a maximum of RM1,000 or be imprisoned for not more than three months, or both.

(The Star) Jalan Besar to be made one-way street to ease congestion

Reduced to a crawl: Jalan Besar in Seri Kembangan was built to serve Seri Kembangan new village and cannot cope with the large volume of traffic now.
Reduced to a crawl: Jalan Besar in Seri Kembangan was built to serve Seri Kembangan new village and cannot cope with the large volume of traffic now.
Seri Kembangan residents greeted 2012 with some welcoming news — that a stretch of the constantly choked Jalan Besar would be converted into a one-way street.
Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah announced this in January as part of a plan to mitigate traffic congestion that is synonymous with the area.
Jalan Besar is currently a dual carriageway with two lanes for each direction.
With the new plan in place, the stretch of Jalan Besar near the old morning market would only allow motorists to head towards Serdang Raya and South City Plaza.
Those going into Seri Kembangan from Serdang Raya and South City Plaza need to use Jalan Raya 1, Jalan 1/10 and Jalan SK 12/1 to get back in Jalan Besar.
Works to connect Jalan Raya 1 and Jalan 1/10, which were originally not linked, were also included in the plan.
Once connected, Jalan Besar, Jalan Raya 1, Jalan 1/10 and Jalan SK 12/1 would form a ring road.
Several other initiatives were also introduced in the three-year project to improve traffic condition in Seri Kembangan.
While Ean Yong was confident the project would alleviate traffic congestion in the town, Serdang parliamentary liaison officer Datuk Yap Pian Hon was not too optimistic.
He considered it impractical and called for it to be cancelled.
He was convinced that the conversion of Jalan Besar into a one-way street would have a detrimental effect on the economic activity in the area, since this particular stretch of Jalan Besar was flanked by two rows of shops.
Yap said the traffic congestion was mainly caused by motorists who double-park along Jalan Besar and traders who display their products outside their premises.
Therefore, he suggested to solve the problem of double-parking by building a multi-storey car park near the morning market.
In response, Ean Yong said the project was put forward by the Selangor Public Works Department (PWD). He also produced a survey result showing that a majority of the people welcomed the project to overcome traffic congestion.
In the survey conducted by Merdeka Centre, 67% of the 400 respondents chose “agree” and “quite agree” when asked, “Do you agree or disagree with the plan to convert Jalan Besar into a one-way street?”
The first phase of the project, which involved linking Jalan Raya 1 and Jalan 1/10, was targetted to be completed by the end of the year.
When contacted, Ean Yong said the work was 80% done.
“The contractor is tarring the road now. However, PWD is still waiting for TNB, Syabas and Telekom to relocate their structures near the site for the works to continue,” he said.
He added that PWD had also asked TNB to remove the cables in the middle of Jalan Besar to make way for the one-way street project.
“I urge the three companies to take action soon,” he said.

(The Star) Japanese retailer Muji set for further expansion

Wide array: Fashionable choices for discerning individuals.
Wide array: Fashionable choices for discerning individuals.
JAPANESE retail company Muji is well-known for its brand-less products, green policy, and avoidance of unnecessary frills and waste in production.
Following the successful opening of its first outlet at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur in April this year, Muji has received an overwhelming response from the Malaysian fans and shoppers alike.
On Dec 14, Muji celebrated the official opening of its second outlet in Malaysia at Mid Valley Megamall.
The new store is the largest Muji outlet in Malaysia, which features the region’s first 7,700 sq ft duplex store at Level 3 of the Centre Court in Mid Valley.
It is hard to miss the Muji branding on the upper floor glass window display that stretches across the store façade fronting the central atrium.
Customers can expect to be delighted with contemporary furnishing concept, not to mention more than 4,000 items including household wares, apparel, stationery and lifestyle items to fulfill the heart’s desire.
“Kuala Lumpur serves as an important move in Muji’s business expansion into South-East Asia.
“We are planning to open five stores in the Klang Valley over the next three years.
“Suffice to say we are confident that we can become part of the lifestyles of Malaysians and create a positive retail presence in the local shopping scene,” said Muji Malaysia managing director of Akihiro Kamogari.
To celebrate the opening of MUJI’s second store, the first 200 customers to show Muji’s promotional ad at on the opening day were rewarded with RM20 Muji coupon.
Also, a total of 300 limited edition Mid Valley opening cotton gift bags were also given out in the first three days of the opening with every RM120 spent.
Source: The Star

(The Star) MRT project on track

PETALING JAYA: The first line of the Klang Valley mass rapid transit (MRT) system, the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line, is expected to make solid progress next year, said Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) chief executive Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid.
It was reported that about 3% of construction works had been completed as at Dec 18.
“Land issues are mostly resolved. However, there are still a few more to be managed, and tunneling should start toward the second quarter of next year, as we expect tunnel boring machines to arrive in Malaysia in the next quarter.
“Ultimately, work is on track and the delivery date of MRT Line 1 remains at July 2017,” he told StarBiz.
Line 1, which connects Sungai Buloh to Kajang via a track that runs through the city centre, is made up of two phases.
The first phase is from Sungai Buloh to Semantan, while the second is from Kajang to Taman Maluri.
It is expected that the first phase would be operational by December 2016, and the second by June 2017.
MRT Corp has been awarding tenders for MRT Line 1 since the fourth quarter of last year. To date, it has awarded almost RM20bil worth of advance, civil and systems works.
There are about 20 more tender packages to be awarded, and in total, the balance of the award should not exceed RM3bil, bringing the construction cost of the MRT Line 1 to about RM23bil.
MRT Corp has awarded a total of 54 packages worth RM20bil out of 85 packages.
At RM23bil, the price tag for MRT Line 1 was still well within the budget set by the Government, partly supported by the reduction in land acquisition costs.
It was reported in July 2011, quoting the Land Public Transport Commission, that the estimated cost for the first line would be around RM20bil.
On the participation of bumiputra contractors, the value of contracts awarded to date against the total awarded stood at 45%.
Where land acquisition cost is concerned, it was reported that RM1.2bil had been paid out to landowners in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
Lines 2 and 3 of the massive project are currently under the final planning and evaluation stage by the Land Public Transport Commission. The Government is expected to announce the alignment and station locations next year.
Source: The Star

(BUSINESS TIMES) Allstones: It'll be about affordability and supply

Property developer Allstones Group Asia Sdn Bhd expects 2013 to be yet another challenging year for the local property market.

It cited affordability and supply as factors that could potentially impact the property market.

Allstones chairman KH Sim said other factors would include escalating property prices, increase in real property gains tax and stricter conditions on end financing.

However, he said the residential market should maintain its momentum in 2013 with landed properties expected to still be commanding premium and faster sales rates, especially those priced below RM500 per square feet.

Allstones, which is a niche property developer in special situation projects, does not see house prices increasing or the price of new launches decreasing in 2013.

With many pending projects deliveries in 2013 and 2014, Allstones expects it to be a stressful period as speculators would find it difficult to procure tenants or sub-sale buyers, especially in an already saturated secondary market.

Sim said despite a rather challenging year in 2012, Malaysia was still listed as the ninth hottest property market in 2012 by CNBC, which demonstrated a relatively positive market.

Commenting on the oversupply of commercial and office properties within Klang Valley, he said with several new commercial areas being planned, this property market segment is at risk of being further dampened.

"With about 20.7 million sq ft of new office space available within the next three years, the supply rate is expanding faster than demand and such projects will cannibalise the existing market."

Sim said moving forward, Allstones wants to see Projek Perumahan 1Malaysia housing are located near to MRT stations to cater to middle- to low-income groups.

On Allstones, he said the company recently completed its commercial development - Plaza Taragon Kelana - which is in the final stage of launching it.

Next year, Allstones will be launching a new residential project here and a mall refurbishment joint venture.


(BUSINESS TIMES) Sunway REIT portfolio swells

Sunway REIT, Malaysia's largest real estate investment trust, is upbeat its total assets under management will exceed RM7 billion in three to five years.

This will be driven by the RM3 billion pipeline assets it has and third-party acquisitions, Sunway REIT Management Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Jeffrey Ng told Business Times.

For third-party acquisitions, the focus is on retail or mixed-use assets with strong growth prospects, in large and high growth cities here, Ng said.

Listed on Bursa Malaysia's Main Market in 2010, Sunway REIT is the largest REIT, in terms of asset size.

Its total assets under management will reach RM4.95 billion after the acquisition of Sunway Medical Center (SMC) by end of this month.

Sunway REIT, also one of the largest retail-focused REITs in Malaysia, has obtained the approval from unitholders to buy SMC for RM310 million.

With the acquisition, Sunway REIT's portfolio will expand to 12 properties.

"By acquiring SMC, Sunway REIT is adding yet another quality asset into its portfolio. More importantly, SMC is a leading private healthcare centre that is located within the Sunway Resort City township, alongside with four other Sunway REIT assets.

"It is the synergistic fit into the township assets that is more crucial to us instead of a standalone property.

"We will only consider other asset classes provided that they are located in townships, master-planned and developed by our sponsor (Sunway Bhd)," Ng said.

The inclusion of SMC will diversify the income stream of Sunway REIT.
Sunway REIT has entered into a master-lease arrangement with the hospital operator for an initial term of 10 years with the option to renew it for another 10 years.

The deal is based on a pre-agreed initial rental of RM19 million for the first year and annual incremental rental of 3.5 per cent for the remaining nine years of the initial term.

Ng said under the master-lease structure, Sunway REIT enjoys certainty in income stream with a guaranteed incremental rental reversion.

Going forward, Ng said Sunway REIT's strategy is to remain focused on retail with at least 60 per cent of its assets in the retail segment, measured by either asset size, revenue or net property income.

Sunway REIT remains bullish on the retail sector on the back of strong consumerism, young population and growing affluence of the nation, in line with government's aspiration to achieve a high income nation by 2020.

"We are also optimistic of prospects of the hospitality sector, where the tourism business will benefit from the government's ongoing promotional activities to boost tourist arrivals ahead of Visit Malaysia Year 2014," Ng said.


(BUSINESS TIMES) Mulpha Land: Boutique projects on drawing board

PETALING JAYA: Mulpha Land Bhd, which has four on-going projects with gross development value (GDV) of RM800 million, plans to add more developments in the short term.

Executive director Ghazie Yeoh Abdullah said Mulpha Land will be busy for the next five years, launching boutique developments and expanding into new horizons.

"We have to look at where we want to be in the next three years, and five years. We are opening up into different sectors, and moving into high-growth areas," Ghazie told Business Times in an interview.

Ghazie said part of the bigger plan for the company is to acquire land in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and in the northern states, as well as undertake property development projects on privatisation basis and joint ventures.

He added that the key is to buy sizeable land that can generate huge GDV and good returns.

"We want to grow our GDV to previous records. We plan to stick to bite-size products as the market seem to be acquiring that. We are expanding our market reach to foreign property buyers," Ghazie said.

He added that Mulpha Land's vision is in line with its parent, Mulpha International Bhd, which is to grow to new heights.

Mulpha International, a diversified conglomerate with shareholder's fund exceeding RM2.9 billion, owns 70.54 per cent of Mulpha Land.

Mulpha Land's existing projects are Bangsar Enclave in Bangsar and Raintree Residence in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Bukit Punchor in Penang, and Desa Aman in Kulim, Kedah.

The company has in its pocket, undeveloped land of up to 250ha in the central and northern regions, which will be developed over the next five to eight years, Ghazie said.

Ghazie said all existing and new projects by the company will be Green Building Index rated.

He said Mulpha Land is gearing to introduce its next exclusive project, six luxury bungalows in Bukit Tunku, Kuala Lumpur, targeting high networth locals and Arabs.

Ghazie was appointed to the board of Mulpha Land on May 22 2012, to spearhead business development for the company, including land purchase and new product design.

He has been offered by Mulpha International to exercise the option to acquire 30 million ordinary shares of RM0.10 each in Mulpha Land at a price of RM1.16 per share.

If successful, this means Ghazie will hold 32 per cent of Mulpha Land while Mulpha International will have 38 per cent stake remaining in the property development company.

Mulpha International will receive cash of RM34.8 million if all the call options are exercised.


Tuesday, 25 December 2012

(The Star) For some toy shops, the Yuletide season brings some of the best sales numbers

Doing better: For Yukie’s Toys, its baby toys sell better than the other selections.
Doing better: For Yukie’s Toys, its baby toys sell better than the other selections.
IT’S Christmas day, a day of the season to be jolly as many from all over the world dress in their best to celebrate with family and friends.
People will see everything from neighbourhood toy shops to bigger shopping centres fully decked with new products and highlighted with colourful and enchanting decorations trying to lure the young and the young at heart in.
While Santa dashes through the snow in his one horse open sleigh, eager shoppers have spent the last few days leading to Christmas dashing through the malls and shops to buy presents.
In the United Kingdom, market research firm NPD Group estimates that last minute shopping in the last three weeks of December may generate about £400mil (RM1.97bil).
Closer to home, market researcher Euromonitor International has reported that Asia will add some US$7.2bil (RM22bil) to global toy sales over the next five years.
But others speculate that year-end retail spending in general has decelerated compared to previous years. Some economists credit this to an uncertain economy and the rising popularity of online shopping that offers convenience and competitive prices for an unlimited selection of products.
Despite these testing times, local proprietors of small toy shops and bigger retailers will continue to make the most out of the 12 days of Christmas. Small-timers versus big boys
More shoppers: Setia City Mall receives an average of 800,000 monthly visitors and is anticipating the number to increase significantly.
More shoppers: Setia City Mall receives an average of 800,000 monthly visitors and is anticipating the number to increase significantly.
Yukie’s Toys, a toy-store in Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya, is a popular shop with children. It features a range of toys and video game consoles that can make even adults want to revisit their childhood days. Its owner K. K. Goh, has been looking forward to this holiday period because it usually means more business for him.
While excited children pull their parents into the store, pleading for the coolest Ben 10 toy or prettiest doll on display, Goh admits that this usually only happens during weekends.
“As much as Christmas has always brought about an increase in our sales, it’s been significantly lower over the last two years because of new technology like smartphone gaming, and the presence of bigger and better toy retailers out there,” said Goh.
The family man whose wife, Josephine Loo and operations manager, Alex Cheah, help manage the store, has been involved in the industry since the 1980s when he assisted his uncle in running a small video games kiosk in another neighbourhood toy shop.
“After that shop closed down, our kiosk could no longer operate, but I wanted to continue to market video games as well as toys. So in 2001, I went to research the ideal location to set up a store, and although it was still too early to be sure, I knew Amcorp Mall would be suitable. Our business thrives mostly on weekends because of the stalls outside and many families like to shop here,” said Goh.
Kids wonderland: Goh’s son Jonathan, likes to help his dad “try” out the toys in the store.
Kids wonderland: Goh’s son Jonathan, likes to help his dad “try” out the toys in the store.
But according to him, the bigger picture shows that traditional toys appear to be suffering a drop in popularity as children from as young as of three, are being lured away by smartphone and tablet-based video games.
On a more positive note, products for infants seem to be selling better than most of the toys.
Yet, it appears to be a different story for Hewsonix Store (Hewson), a traditional mom-and-pop shop in Old Town, Petaling Jaya, as every single item sells like hot cakes even on weekdays.
Stepping into the shop is like opening a magical treasure box as everything from toys, stationery, stickers and a bevy of Christmas decorations are stacked from floor to ceiling.
The colours of the items are fantastic and giddying as every nook, cranny and corner is stuffed with products placed to sell, and sell fast they do, according to Hewson’s owner, Ben Hew.
“We have pretty good business all year round, but it gets real busy and a little out of control during major festivities.
“We can usually sell about 80% of the Christmas items we have and store some of them for next Christmas. The business has a high turnover in goods and it moves fast as we’re now in the midst of doing our orders for Chinese New Year next year,” said Hew.
Hewson was incorporated as a little outlet in the same shop house by Ben’s father, Hew See Keong and Ben took over the business in the early 1990s. Since then, the shop has expanded to two stories of space measuring 22ft by 18ft for each level.
Meanwhile, Yukie’s Toys generates just above RM50,000 in revenue per year, but that alone isn’t enough to cover costs.
“Our profit margins are very low because we’re facing stiff competition from online retailers.
“Customers are discerning and will compare the prices of products so we have to keep our prices as low as possible, but that has a direct effect on the profitability of our business,” explained Goh, adding that he isn’t sure whether the business will be sustainable in the future.
On the other hand, Hew faces a different predicament.
“We have to deal with a high volume of customers who visit the shop daily. Because of this, keeping tabs on inventory is a bit of a headache but we’re trying to manage it,” explained Hew.
Christmas at the malls
Two major family shopping centres in the Klang Valley, 1 Utama and Setia City Mall, have certainly decked their halls with boughs of holly, Christmas trees and colourful embellishments to ignite the festive spirit up until the new year.
Although only in its seventh month of operations, Setia City Mall is in Yuletide cheer with its 10m Christmas tree that’s surrounded by eight kiosks shaped like giant Christmas gifts.
The mall receives an average of 800,000 visitors a month and is anticipating the number to increase significantly during Christmas up until Chinese New Year next year. Customer spending is expected to increase during this time due to festive buying and year-end sales.
“For the children, Santa and Santarina will be roaming the mall and giving out goodies today.
There will also be a Miss Santarina Pageant today where one little princess will be crowned Miss Santarina,” said Setia City Mall general manager Phillippa Holmes.
In 1Utama, there will also be an influx of shoppers who come not only to shop, but to eat and hang out, so the mall hopes to capitalise on that.
“Christmas has always been the busiest season for 1 Utama as it coincides with the year-end sales and school holidays. Retail sales are always on the rise in December as the on-going promotions and sales encourage visitors to shop more as people generally look for bargains,” said the mall’s public relations manager, Lee Li Lian.
With plenty of activities lined up for this month, sales are largely driven by children considering that the mall will generally highlight its vast options for presents and toys for the young ones.
“Kids also yield considerable influence when it comes to family purchasing decisions, and this is largely reflected in the number of child-related tenants in 1 Utama,” explained Lee.
While the spirit of celebrating, buying and giving has certainly brought joy to many business owners, they will continue to envisage and materialise new concepts, marketing tools and products to increase their customer traffic all year round.
Source: The Star