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Monday, 30 April 2012

(BUSINESS TIMES) Pulai Springs unfazed by competition


JOHOR BARU: An additional 2,000-odd hotel rooms will enter the Johor market this year, but Pulai Springs Resort is unfazed and expects its performance to improve this year.

General manager Tengku Ahmad Faizal is expecting gross operating profit (GOP) to increase to RM18 million from RM16 million last year. This 322-room resort has forecast a revenue of RM33 million for 2012.

GOP is the cost of doing business or gross revenue (from rooms, food and beverage, laundry or business centre) minus cost of operations (wages, electricity and amenities).

Improved rates and occupancy level are expected to contribute to the expected better performance.



"Last year, our average occupancy was 59 per cent and average room rate was RM183.

"In 2012, we project our average occupancy to touch 65 per cent and ARR to reach RM210," Ahmad said during an interview recently.

According to him, performance in the first quarter was soft, but an improvement is seen in the second quarter.

"In the third quarter, we will be affected by the fasting month as well as the hungry ghost festival. Our fourth quarter is traditionally the best," he pointed out.

Ahmad's confidence also stems from the fact that this resort is the only five-star accommodation in Johor with various room configuration, and two golf courses.

The hotel provides free shuttle service to the Johor Premium Outlets and plans to do the same when Legoland opens in September.

However, he cautioned that since most of the attractions are opening towards the last quarter, there is a possibility of a shift in its projections

SOURCE : http://www.btimes.com.my/Current_News/BTIMES/articles/ipsrjb/Article/

(NST) PHD opens new outlet in Masai


SPECIAL DELIVERY: The pizza delivery service company opens its 43rd outlet in Malaysia

MASAI: PHD, the pizza delivery service, recently launched its 43rd outlet in Bandar Sri Alam, Masai, Johor.

The new branch offers a special made-for-delivery menu to customers in selected neighbourhoods here.
"Masai is an excellent location for our new branch, due to its proximity to Pasir Gudang, providing a clientele of weekend shoppers, as well as a rapidly-growing population in the nearby housing estates," said Jamaludin Md Ali, managing director of QSR Brands Bhd, which owns the PHD chain of stores in Malaysia.
"Masai has grown tremendously. The oldest part of Johor Baru is now a buzzing town with many flourishing businesses. This is an ideal time for PHD to enter the local market, as many here are looking for quick, reliable and value-for-money meals and that's exactly what PHD is all about," Jamaludin added.
PHD has been offering customers in 42 locations a made-for-delivery menu of pizza, pasta and side orders delivered within a guaranteed 30-minutes timeframe. It is a guarantee the brand is willing to back with a "free pizza" promise if the meal is not delivered on time.
The PHD menu, customised to suit its delivery focus of speed and consistent quality, features the all-new traditional crust pizza and garlic flatbread. Pizza and pasta variants are based on long-standing Malaysian favourites tailored to suit the customer. Also on the menu is the highly popular WingStreet range originally served by Pizza Hut, as well as pan pizzas. The menu also offers great value with combo meals for intimate dinners to large parties.
With clearly indicated net prices and free delivery, there are no hidden costs, creating even better value for the customer.
Takeaway is available at PHD stores that do not have dine-in facilities.
For a limited time only, those ordering take-away from PHD Bandar Sri Alam will be able to purchase one regular traditional crust pizza and two garlic bread for only RM10 net. The promotion ends on Monday.
PHD first opened its doors in Seri Kembangan on Feb 21 last year.
In conjunction with PHD's first anniversary celebration, get a regular traditional pizza at just RM1, with purchase of the PHD Double Deals.
To find out more about PHD, its menu and delivery coverage, visit www.phd.com.my. Call the hotline 1-300-822-020, to order.

(NST) Legoland ready for the crowds

The country's latest and most anticipated international theme park Legoland Malaysia will open its doors on Sept 15, one day ahead of the Malaysia Day celebrations.


An influx of visitors is expected for the long-weekend opening, as the first day is a Saturday while Monday will be a replacement holiday for the public holiday on Sunday.

The project is ahead of schedule by several months, as it was originally planned for opening early next year.

Announcing the opening date at the Legoland Malaysia site office recently, Legoland Malaysia general manager Siegfried Boerst said since the date has been set, families and tour operators may start planning for their holidays and trips to visit the theme park.

"In conjunction with the opening, we are offering single-day tickets at a special introductory offer of RM96 for adults and RM70  for children and senior citizens.

"The tickets will be available during our road show starting today at Vivo City in Singapore.

"In Johor, the tickets are available at the Iskandar Malaysia Information Centre in Danga Bay from 2pm to 7pm every weekend," he said.

The offer is 30 per cent lower than the regular price at RM140  for adults and RM110 for children and senior citizens.

The official single-day tickets will go on sale online later next month at www.legoland.com.my

So far, more than 35,000  annual passes have been sold across the region since last December.

It is learnt Malaysians made up 60 per cent of the sales, followed by 35 per cent from Singaporeans and five per cent from others.

Boerst said the theme park expects to receive between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors a day.

"The park is now 75 per cent completed with most of the rides and infrastructure already installed.

"Last month, the contractors began work on the theming of the park and next month they will begin the installation of 50 million Lego bricks and models in the park," he said.

Legoland Malaysia is the sixth Legoland to be built in the world and the first in Asia.

It is a project by IDR Resorts and Merlin Entertainment

(NST) RM130m to ease traffic flow in Sunway

BIG SHOULDERS: Sunway Group upgrades roads as part of its corporate social responsibility

Proposed road upgrading and infrastructure around Bandar Sunway, Subang Jaya and USJTan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah says the RM130 million CSR effort is welcomed by the government and the highway authority, which will be building three U-turns. Pic by Che Rani Che Din
The stretch of New Pantai Expressway in front of Sunway Pyramid is prone to traffic congestion.

Motorists in Sunway will soon see traffic congestion reduced by 80 percent, thanks to a corporate social responsibility (CSR) effort.


The RM130 million project of three major road upgrades, two of which are already under way, is undertaken by Sunway Group.

Group chairman Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah said the project would be completed in three phases. The project, he added, was initiated to resolve the traffic problem in the township.

The first phase involves the build-ing of access link roads from Shah Alam Expressway (Kesas) to the group's housing estate development Sunway South Quay and vice versa. Construction of the link roads, which began end of last year and is expected to be ready by year end, costs RM40 million.

The second phase of the project involves the widening of lanes. The five-lane stretch of the New Pantai Expressway (NPE) from the front of Sunway Pyramid shopping centre to the Subang Jaya 3C Complex, and the subsequent two lanes after the 3C complex, will be widened with two more lanes in both areas.

The project, which will start in June, costs RM20 million and will take 18 months to complete.

The third phase of the project, costing RM70 million, is the building of an elevated highway above the monsoon drain reserve behind the factories in Jalan PJS 11/1.  Work will start next year.

"The road upgrading will help resolve the traffic issues in Sunway and surrounding areas like Subang Jaya and USJ," said Cheah, adding that the three projects were welcomed by the government and the highway authority.

He said the Malaysian Highway Authority and Petaling Jaya City Council would also build several U-turns to help ease traffic flow there.

The first U-turn at Persiaran Tujuan is elevated. The second U-turn will be before the Sunway toll on Kesas highway. The project undertaken by the Malaysian Highway Authority is expected to start next month.

The third U-turn will be built at the slip road turning into PJS 5 from the NPE.

(NST) Residents to know house prices soon

THE state government will soon  announce the prices of affordable homes built  for former residents of Kampung Abok in Rahang, near here, who had to relocate to make way for the construction of the Seremban Middle Ring Road.
Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said the announcement on the house prices was expected to be made after the State Executive Council meeting on Wednesday.

He said the government had already discussed the matter with the residents and  the houses  made affordable  for them.

"Overall, most of the former residents are very keen to take up the homes and are eagerly waiting for the announcement," he said.

A total of 150 units of affordable houses were built at a  cost of RM19.8 million near the  location of the   former squatter colony.

The residents had agreed to make way for the construction of the Seremban Middle Ring Road, which will ease traffic congestion in the town.

Mohamad said there were some residents who may face problems purchasing the homes due to various factors such as  their age and occupation which may not allow them to get  a housing loan.

He said the state was looking into ways to resolve this  and would come up with some kind of scheme to assist this particular group.

However,  Mohamad said a final decision would be made at the state exco meeting.

Meanwhile, a former resident of Kampung Abok, Mohd Azmi Golam Nabi, said he was  eager to own a home and was waiting for the state's announcement.

"My family has been renting for almost three years and we hope we can own a house under this scheme," he said.

Azmi is among 99 former residents of Kampung Abok  who will enjoy a discount of up to RM60,000 to own a house which was developed by Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd.

Chef Lee Mei Choo, 52, said she had been staying with her children for the past few years and was looking forward  to own a house.

"I am already old and hope the state government will offer us the houses at a price we can afford," she said

(NST) 2 KR1M stores to open soon in Kuching

BIG DEMAND: Locally-made goods available
KUCHING: The first two Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia stores (KR1M) here are set to be  open in Fifth Mile and Medan Hamidah here by the end of June, KR1M operator Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin said yesterday.
He said in addition to generic 1Malaysia products, a special aisle would be carrying brands and products manufactured by local small-and-medium industries.
"This means that the stores will not only benefit the public, who will be able to purchase items at a lower price, but also local suppliers and businesses," said Ameer, who is also Mydin Holdings Bhd managing director.
Three months ago, he said representatives from Mydin had identified several local SMIs and SMEs, including six kek lapis businesses here who were willing to make and sell products under the 1Malaysia brand, as well as their own.
Ameer said the Fifth Mile store would be large, measuring 1393sq m, including 929sq m to be used as a warehouse.
"We expect a high demand for 1Malaysia products, which requires a great deal of logistical support," adding that other grocers and traders, such as Choice SuperMall in Samariang here, could also opt to sell 1Malaysia products.
Ameer also said apart from generic products which would be sold up to 40 per cent lower, non-1Malaysia products at KR1M stores would also be sold at competitive prices.
"These products will be protected from 'yo-yo' pricing, which sometimes happens in other stores, where the price of certain products increase and decrease from time to time."
Ameer said around RM70,000 worth of KR1M products would be sold at its exhibition booth at the Jelajah Janji Ditepati carnival here today and tomorrow.
"Given that we have yet to open our stores here, this will give the people of Kuching their first taste and experience of what a KR1M store will be like in Sarawak.
"He said there were currently 36 KR1M stores open nationwide with a total of 85 to be opened by the end of the year.
The Jelajah Janji Ditepati carnival and expo will be officially opened by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is expected to arrive at 10am today.

(The Star) Laying the Lego foundation


ASIA’S first Legoland theme park — Legoland Malaysia — in Nusajaya, Iskandar Malaysia, Johor is set to open its doors to visitors on Sept 15.
Legoland Malaysia general manager Siegfried Boerst said work on the park is now approximately 75% completed with most of the rides and infrastructure already installed.
He said, in March contractors began work on “theming” the park and next month they would begin the installation of 50 million Lego bricks and models into the park.
Mega project: Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman (left) being briefed by Legoland Development general manager John Ussher (right) at the groundbreaking ceremony of Legoland Malaysia.
“We are ready to welcome one million visitors through our gates in the first year of operations or between 10,000 and 15,000 daily,’’ said Boerst.
He was speaking to Malaysian and Singaporean journalists during a site visit recently.
The US$200mil (RM608 mil) theme park on a 30.75ha site will cater to families with children from two to 12 years old with 40 rides, shows and attractions.
Many of the rides are hands-on, so visitors can push, pull, pedal, programme, steer, squirt, splash, crawl, climb and build for a full-day of non-stop fun.
“The park is divided into seven theme areas, with each area designed for children to explore and enjoy all the activities,’’ said Boerst.
The theme areas are called The Beginning, Lego City, Miniland, Land of Adventure, Imagination, Lego Kingdom and Lego Technic.
Ollie the Dragon (below) and Ollie Junior at Legoland Malaysia corporate office in Nusajaya, Iskandar Malaysia, Johor.
He said what sets Legoland apart from other theme parks is the “interactivity and participation to stimulate the imagination and creativity of children”.’
Boerst said the combined components of play, bonding, and experiencing while creating would allow children to share the values with their friends and peers.
“This offers unique opportunities for families to bond and strengthen relationships in today’s world dominated by digital gadgets,’’ he added.
Boerst said the response to the park’s pre-opening promotional drive, which began in January, was good with 35,000 annual passes sold online by the closing date on April 16 .
He said the figure was the highest ever recorded for the sale of pre-opening annual passes for any of the Legoland theme parks.
Boerst said 60% of the passes were bought by Malaysians and the remaining 40% by foreigners, with Singaporeans making up the majority of foreign buyers and the rest from other countries.
Other Legoland theme parks are Legoland Billund in Denmark, Legoland Windsor outside London, Legoland Deutschland near Gunzburg, Germany and Legoland California and Florida in the United States.
There are also plans to open a Legoland Hotel on a 0.97ha site next to Legoland Malaysia in 2014. The hotel will also be the first in Asia and the fourth Legoland Hotel.
The other Legoland Hotels are located in Billund and Windsor, with a third one set to open in California next year.
Legoland Malaysia is a joint-venture project between Iskandar Investment Bhd and Merlin Entertainments Group — the world’s second-largest operator of visitor attractions.
Merlin Entertainments operates 78 attractions, six hotels, two holiday villages in 17 countries and across four continents. The company runs, among others, Sea Life, Madame Tussauds, The London Eye, Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Tower Eye and Skywalk, Alton Towers Resort, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventure.

(The Star) Demolition of pre-war shops postponed


The demolition of two rows of pre-war shophouses in Kampung Kepayang near Ipoh, which the authorities had planned to pull down in January, has yet again been postponed.
Batu Gajah council president Datuk Jamry Sury said the Public Works Department had sought a RM10mil allocation from the Federal Government to pull down the buildings as well as compensate certain owners.
Part of the money would also be used to expand the federal route, which runs through the two rows of shop houses located between Simpang Pulai and Gopeng, he said.
“Once the allocation is granted to the department, work to demolish the buildings will be carried out,” he told reporters after the council’s full board meeting on Thursday.
The Star had reported on Nov 11 last year that the council had decided to tear down the buildings, thought to have existed since the 1880s, due to their sorry state.
Located 13km south of Ipoh, the shophouses are noted for their architectural designs.
In stark contrast to its heyday, the former tin-mining town has been reduced to a ghost town following the drop in demand for the commodity.
“The demolition is expected to take place by the end of this year although we hope it can be carried out earlier than that.
“This is to enable road expansion works to be carried out sooner to compliment the development of the Rural Transformation Centre (RTC) in Gopeng.
“There is a need for a wider road to make it easier and safer for people to get to the RTC,” Jamry said.

(The Star) Another tourist attraction in Malacca


MALACCA: Malacca Tourism Association (MTA) has expressed delight over the recent discovery of an ancient Portuguese bastion at Padang Nyiru here. The association said they were willing to work closely with the state government to conserve the site and to turn it to a top-tourist attraction for the city.
MTA president Madelina W.L. Kuah described the discovery as an intriguing piece of good news for Malaccans that would further accelerate the arrival of tourists to the state.
Those in the tourism industry are extremely excited and willing to assist the state government and Heritage Department to preserve the site, she said.
It is learnt that archaeologists from the Heritage Department had begun research work at the site where the fort believed to be the remaining of St. Dominic bastion is buried underneath.
St Dominic, fronting the Malacca river is part of the larger A’Farmosa fortress built by Portuguese to safeguard the interest especially evading attack from the sea.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam announced recently that the Federal Government had disapproved a proposed multi-storey car-park project at the site following the discovery of the bastion underneath the site.
He said the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry has asked the state government to source for another alternative area after soil test at Padang Nyiru confirmed there was a fort with historical values buried underneath.
The site, neighbouring Malacca’s Little India and St Francis Church, is currently a car park managed by a private concessionaire.
In 2007, parts of the bastion and the walls - an extension to the A’Famosa fortress left by the Portuguese were discovered during construction of the RM24.5mil Taming Sari viewing tower in Jalan Quayside next to Malacca River.
Following the find, the Federal Government issued a stop-work order to preserve the 17th century Dutch-era fortress and the 110m revolving tower project was relocated to another site.
Middleburg Bastion, estimated to be 1.5km long, was a strategic military landmark in Malacca 250 years ago.
It was built as an extension to the A’Famosa fortress left by the Portuguese.
A local relic collector from Tengkera said he noticed several officials from Heritage Department surveying the site about a month ago.
The collector who requested anonymity said he went to the site in the hope of procuring some articafts after hearing that excavation work was being carried-out at the site.
“I was told that they found a new fort while certain part of the remains were visible during the excavation at the site fronting a bank. I dont know the latest development but was told by the officials that they would soon cordon-off the area,” he said.

(The Star) Legoland expected to open in September


ASIA’S first Legoland theme park — Legoland Malaysia — in Nusajaya, Iskandar Malaysia, Johor is set to open its doors to visitors on Sept 15.
Legoland Malaysia general manager Siegfried Boerst said work on the park is now approximately 75% completed with most of the rides and infrastructure already installed.
He said in March, contractors began work on theming of the park and next month they would begin the installation of 50 million Lego bricks and models into the park.
“We are ready to welcome one million visitors to pass our gates in the first year of operations or between 10,000 and 15,000 daily,’’ said Boerst.
He was speaking to Malaysian and Singaporean journalists during a site visit recently.
The US$200mil theme park on a 30.75ha site will cater to families with children from two to 12 years old with 40 rides, shows and attractions.
Many of the rides are hands-on, so visitors can push, pull, pedal, programme, steer, squirt, splash, crawls, climbs and build for a full-day of non-stop fun.
“The park is divided into seven theme areas where each area is designed for children to explore and enjoy all the activities,’’ said Boerst.
The theme areas are — The Beginning, Lego City, Miniland, Land of Adventure, Imagination, Lego Kingdom and Lego Technic.
He said what set Legoland different from other theme parks was the “interactivity and participation to stimulate the imagination and creativity of children.’’
Boerst said the combined components of play, bonding, experiencing while creating would allow children to share the values with their friends and peers.
“This offers unique opportunities for families to bond together and value relationship in today’s world dominated by digital gadgets,’’ he added.
Boerst said response for the park’s pre-opening date was good with 35,000 annual passes sold online on the closing date April 16 — since its introduction in January this year.
He said the figure was the highest ever recorded for the pre-opening annual passes sales for any of the Legoland theme parks.
Boerst said 60% of the passes were bought by Malaysians while the remaining 40% by foreigners with Singaporeans making up the majority of foreign buyers and the rest from other countries.
Other Legoland theme parks are Legoland Billund in Denmark, Legoland Windsor outside London, Legoland Deutschland near Gunzburg, Germany and Legoland California and Florida in the United States.
Coming up at Legoland Malaysia in 2014 is the Legoland Hotel — also the first in Asia and the fourth Legoland Hotel — on 0.97ha site next to Legoland Malaysia.
Other Legoland Hotels are located in Billund, Windsor and a third one will open in California in the US next year.
Legoland Malaysia is a joint-venture project between Iskandar Investment Bhd and Merlin Entertainments Group — the world’s second largest visitor attraction operator.
It operates 78 attractions, six hotels, two holiday villages in 17 countries and across four continents.
The company operates among others — Sea Life, Madame Tussauds, The London Eye, Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Tower Eye and Skywalk, Alton Towers Resort, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventure.

(The Star) Adopting a winning formula

The city of digital lights, better known as as i-City, will soon be bringing Clarke Quay to Malaysia.

I-Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Eu Hong Chew said i-City will be developed into an integrated leisure destination with waterfront food and beverage and entertainment outlets similar to Singapore’s Clarke Quay.
“Considering it had enhanced Singapore’s tourism industry successfully, we felt that by adopting a similar concept, we will attract more tourists and locals to come here,” he said.
“When we heard that the state was planning to upgrade Sungai Rasau as part of its flood mitigation programme, we took the opportunity to develop i-City with the waterfront concept based on three components — rides and attractions, events and functions and hospitality development,” he said.
The development named Clarke Quay@i-City will be done in three phases.
Plans to come: Dr Ng (right) looking at the model of the proposed Clarke Quay@i-City development with I-Bhd executive chairman Tan Sri Datuk Lim Kim Hong.
The initial phase is the establishment of a cosmopolitan F&B zone, phase two will tied to the development of a 1mil sq ft regional shopping mall and the river’s upgrade followed by the last phase which is the river based rides and attractions.
This year, i-City will be investing RM25mil in a kids gym and a three acres water park. The company will also be developing three hotels and an amphitheatre as well as changing the theme of the Snowalk to a science theme.
“Malaysians can look forward to the kids gym in July while the water theme park will be opened around November this year,” said Eu.
“The construction of the amphitheatre and water park will provide additional venues to cater for different events and functions celebrated by both the Federal and State government,” he said.
The 500m-long waterfront F&B development will have 300,000 sq ft of leasable area.
“Clarke Quay@i-City will be a long term investment for i-City and we believe it will help i-City become a great tourist attraction,” he added.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, who was present at the launch, said such development will make i-City an important destination in the tourist market.
“The development by I-Bhd would provide Tourism Malaysia another promotion option as we can encourage not only Malaysians, but those from neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Indonesia to visit i-City.
“Malaysia is definitely becoming one of the world’s top tourism attraction” she said.

(The Star) Strong consumer demand seen despite slower economy


GEORGE TOWN: The local consumer goods sector expects a comfortable 2012, backed by product launches and new market penetration.
Consumer goods companies such as Zhulian Corp BhdPublic Packages Holdings Bhd (PPH)Spritzer Holdings Bhd and Courts (M) Sdn Bhd are expecting growth despite a lower Bank Negara forecast of 4% to 5% GDP expansion this year compared with a projected 5% to 6% in 2011.
Zhulian managing director Danny Teoh said the group was releasing for the first time coloured cosmetic products such as lipstick, mascara and cookware in the second half of 2012 to gain new market share and penetration.
“These new products will be targeted at the domestic market initially, where we have 88,000 members. We are projecting a 10% increase in our membership in Malaysia by the end of the year.
“In South-East Asia, the membership is around 584,000 presently compared with 574,000 in 2011, which is also expected to grow by about 10% by the end of 2012,” he said.
This year, Zhulian would focus on export markets in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, which contributed about 45% of its revenue, Teoh added.
“Thailand is our strongest market in the region. Overall, this year should be a comfortable year for us,” he said.
PPH director Michael Koay said although demand in the second quarter was expected to be soft, the group projected a recovery in the third quarter due to the recent launch of new packaging products such as lunch trays, storage and archive boxes, and food and gift packagings.
“These products are targeted at the home and office business segments in the country and can be purchased through our online e-commerce site,” he said.
Koay said the group planned to venture into the hospitality industry in the first quarter of 2013.
For the first quarter of 2012, the group expects sales to decline by about 9% compared with the previous year's corresponding period.
“Overall, we expect 2012 to be better than last year but this very much depends on the actual demand trend. We foresee the intensifying of price competition in the market,” Koay said.
Spritzer Holdings managing director Lim Kok Boon said the group would release a new range of carbonated drinks under the brand Spritzer POP in the next few months.
“We are targeting the youth market in the country. We are also aggressively marketing our newly launched 6-litre and 9.5-litre distilled bottled water, which comes in non-spill cap and easy-tear handle, making the products dispenser friendly and suitable for outdoor use,” he said.
Spritzer production capacity will remain at 360 million litres this year, produced from 15 bottling line facilities in Taiping (nine lines), Shah Alam (two lines) and Johor (four lines).
Courts country director Chris Yong said the expansion in 2011, which saw the company launching 14 stores in the country and added another 103,000 sq ft of retail space, would help Courts gain new market penetration this year.
“We have also launched our new furniture product range and FlexiCredit installment payment scheme. “The new products, wider market penetration and a better Hari Raya sales projection should help Courts to achieve a double-digit growth in sales over 2011. The best-selling items of Courts include tablets and smartphones,” Yong said.
Last year, Courts opened six new stores in Sungei Buloh, Kota Damansara, Ukay Boulevard, and Menara Sentul in the Klang Valley; Tanah Merah in Kelantan; and Kip Homemart in Johor. It also refurbished six stores in Kota Baru and Kuantan, and relocated two stores in Rawang and Kangar.
Meanwhile, OCBC Bank (M) Bhd emerging business head Wong Chee Seng said the bank had so far approved over RM500mil in loans for the small and medium enterprise (SME) market.
“In 2011, OCBC Bank granted more than RM6bil in loans to the SME, mainly dominated by the domestic businesses of the wholesale and retail sector.
“Comparing the results with that of the first two months in 2012, we believe that we will continue to grow a strong double-digit percentage in loan approval numbers,” Wong said.
Meanwhile, the latest Business Monitor International report forecast that total retail sales in the country would increase from US$57bil in 2012 to RM70.5bil in 2016, fuelled by low unemployment rate, rising disposable income and a strong tourism industry.
Consumer electronic product sales are predicted to rise from US$11.47bil in 2012 to US$14.44bil in 2016, an increase of 25.8%, boosted by demand from the tech-literate urban middle class and by a growing interest in electronic products from under-penetrated areas outside the Klang Valley.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

(The Star) Affordable lifestyle yet enriching Customer comes first, pledges Trinity MD


TRINITY Group Sdn Bhd wants to promote its brand of lifestyle living at an affordable cost to a broader market in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor.
Managing director Datuk Neoh Soo Keat says the Klang Vally-based developer's aim is to build property projects that offer lavish high-rise living at affordable prices.
Currently, Trinity's projects are all located in the Klang Valley and Neoh is on the lookout for strategic land in the growth markets of Penang and Johor.
At its Z Residence project in Bukit Jalil, comprising four blocks of 26 and 27 storeys of 1,136 service residences, the units were sold at average prices of RM340 to RM380 per sq ft. The RM500mil project has been fully taken up since its launch last April.
Neoh says all the elements of the project are crafted to enhance the lives of residents.
Neoh says despite the affordable pricing, residents can look forward to a combination of recreational and lifestyle facilities that include a floating garden surrounded by water courtyards, a 180-ft infinity pool, and panoramic sky lounges perched at 430 ft above ground level atop every condominium tower.
Up to 50% of the development has been reserved for green lungs and relaxation corners.
“All the elements of the Z Residence's design are crafted to enhance and enrich the lives of residents and the greater community it serves.
“The development aims to introduce a wholesome urban lifestyle to the medium-end housing market. We are dedicated to enriching the lives of our customers as our customers are at the centre of everything we do,” Neoh shares with StarBizWeek.
To achieve the highest quality standard for its project, he says Trinity has recently appointed Putra Perdana Construction Sdn Bhd (PPC), a unit of Putrajaya Perdana Bhd, as the main contractor for Z Residence.
Neoh says PPC is the first construction company in the country to be awarded with the 5-S Certification by SIirim-HK5SA, adding that PPC's competency in construction and high standards of quality and efficiency are in line with Trinity's commitment to deliver up-to-date and high-value products.
The company hopes to record a quantum jump in sales this year to RM640mil against RM230mil achieved in 2011.
Trinity has undeveloped landbank of 23.36 acres and another 12.5 acres that are currently under construction in the Klang Valley.
Its landbank include five acres in Serdang worth a potential gross development value (GDV) of RM300mil; 8.65 acres in Bukit Antarabangsa (RM700mil); three acres in Melawati (RM180mil); three acres in USJ19 (The Latitute@USJ19 worth RM200mil); and 3.71 acres in Seri Kembangan.
The Seri Kembangan land will be developed into The Zeva comprising a mixed development of 446 service apartments, 320 studio units and 12 shop offices. The project, with GDV of RM250mil, will be launched on May 18 for completion in 2015.
The studio units with built-up of 455 sq ft to 638 sq ft are priced from RM200,000; serviced suites of 881 sq ft to 1,205 sq ft are from RM350,000; and shop offices from 5,697 sq ft to 12,221 sq ft are from RM2.8mil.
In keeping with Trinity's trademark of lifestyle living, all the residential blocks will be naturally ventilated with generous corridor and a sky garden at each alternate level.
Neoh says Zeva is set to bring a fresh and dynamic change to the skyline of the gradually aging Seri Kembangan township.
“The project will provide a refreshing break from the mundane and monotonous architectural landscape in this established and matured township.
“Zeva's modern building facade with strong linear lines will complement the development of this place without taking away the charm that this town is associated with. The street mall on the ground floor of the development is envisioned to be vibrant and lively with a good mix of F&B outlets, offices and retail shops that will offer a refreshing lift to this area,” he adds.

(The Star) Iskandar builders still bullish


DEVELOPERS in Iskandar Malaysia are still optimistic about the property market this year as it is expected to remain bullish based on the performance in the first quarter of 2012.
SP Setia Bhd executive vice-president (property division) Datuk Chang Khim Wah says demand for its properties in south Johor is still strong in the first three months.
He points to the take-up rate for the company's properties which has been good since day one, and with Iskandar Malaysia progressing well, it was another pull factor for Johor properties.
Chang says Johor is now the company's main revenue earner, contributing about RM1bil in sales for three consecutive years 2009, 2010 and 2011 and SP Setia is confident of Johor maintaining its lead this year.
The Setia Tropika development in Kempas, Johor Baru over 299ha.
“Many have given their thumbs-up to Iskandar Malaysia as they can see the landscape of South Johor changing in the last five years,” he tellsStarBizWeek.
Chang says Iskandar Malaysia will continue to push up demand for properties in Johor and will help to mitigate the slow growth in Johor's property market this year if there was one.
He feels the company is fortunate as all of its projects in south Johor are strategically located within the flagship development zones of Iskandar Malaysia.
Its ongoing projects in south Johor are Bukit Indah with only 5% land left for development, Setia Eco Gardens and Setia Business Park (383.64ha and 50% sill available for future development).
Others are a new development Setia Business Park II (107.24ha), Setia Tropika (299.46ha and 40%), Setia Indah (359.36ha and 10%) and Setia Eco Cascadia (110.07ha and 70%).
“Confidence in Johor is now at an all-time high especially with the progress made by Iskandar Malaysia. Many were quite sceptical in the early days whether it would take off successfully,” says Chang.
He says road-upgrading and the opening of new highways such as the New Coastal Highway, Eastern Dispersal Link Expressway and Southern Link next year has improved connectivity and accessibility within Iskandar Malaysia.
Chang says foreign investors are gradually turning to Iskandar Malaysia and Johor Baru's close proximity with Singapore has attracted buyers from the republic to look for properties in Iskandar Malaysia.
“With or without Iskandar Malaysia, Singaporeans are always attracted to buying properties in Johor Baru and Iskandar Malaysia helps to make south Johor more attractive to them now,'' he said.
Chang says the property market in Johor will be getting more competitive.
Chang says that going forward, the property market in Johor Baru will be getting more competitive as more and more players from outside Johor are coming here.
He says while there is still large tracts of land available in south Johor for development unlike in Kuala Lumpur or Penang. Getting hold of the land is not as easy as 15 years ago as land owners are now becoming more demanding and sometimes asking prices that are too “exorbitant”.
Hua Yang Bhd Johor branch manager Soo Kim Hiang says that while Iskandar Malaysia is the main factor that has pushed demand for high-end properties, the company is using a different strategy.
“We are focusing on the middle-income group and first-time house buyers who are neither qualified to buy low-cost houses or high-end properties,” he says.
Soo says the company is banking on the affordability of its residential properties to attract prospective buyers as its strong selling point.
He says although the company's township projects are strategically located within Iskandar Malaysia, its pricing is much lower compared with other ongoing projects in the economic growth corridor.
“On average our residential pro-perties here are priced between RM250,000 and RM400,000,” adds Soo.
The project is Taman Pulai Indah a mixed development of 4,942 residential and commercial units on 193.03ha with a gross development value (GDV) of RM818mil.
About 134.ha has been developed since its first project in Johor was launch in 2000 and the company will take three to five years to fully develop it.
Its second township project, Taman Pulai Hijauan, on 56.65ha was recently launched and comprises 1,400 double-storey link, cluster and semi-detached houses and commercial units.
Soo says Hua Yang is using a different strategy.
Both projects are located along the Skudai-Pontian Highway in the Senai-Kulai one of the five flagship development zones in Iskandar Malaysia.
Other flagship development zones in the 2,217 sq km Iskandar Malaysia are the JB City Centre, Nusajaya, Eastern Gate Development and Western Gate Development.
“Taman Pulai Hijauan will keep us busy for the next five to seven years with a GDV of RM380mil,” says Soo.
He says the company's double-storey link terrace houses Alder Residences at Taman Pulai Hijauan was priced from RM250,000 onwards.
The four-bedroom and three-bedroom house with a built up of 1,834 sq ft within a gated and guarded precinct is priced from RM250,000 onwards.
Soo says a similar property with the same floor area in other parts of Iskandar Malaysia, especially in Nusajaya, will be priced from RM450,000 onwards for an intermediate lot.
He concurs with Chang that the rest of the year will be challenging for most property developers in Johor Baru but is optimistic that the market will be good.
“The only problem is the labour cost which has gone up between 40% and 50%, and developers have no choice but to pass the cost to buyers,” says Soo.
Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive officer Ismail Ibrahim says there should not be any worries on property overhang in Iskandar Malaysia.
It was recently reported that Iskandar Malaysia was expected to face a property glut in the next few years as many local and foreign developers would be launching their projects here.
“Property has never been identified to be the economic sectors we are promoting in Iskandar Malaysia as we believe that property development and demand will come naturally as investors start flocking here,” he says.
Ismail says if Irda has been promoting the property sector since day one of Iskandar Malaysia, the issue of property overhang is likely to happen.