PETALING JAYA (April 24): The Covid-19 pandemic has given shopping mall operators the opportunity to improve cost efficiency, according to three major  industry players who took part in’s Facebook Live Fireside Chat titled "Will malls be empty in the new normal?" today.

They were Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK) president and 1 Utama Shopping Centre director Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok, Sunway Malls and Theme Parks CEO H C Chan and KIP Group of Companies CEO Valerie Ong. The session was moderated by EdgeProp Malaysia editor-in-chief and managing director Au Foong Yee.

To Ong, the Covid-19 outbreak and the ensuing Movement Control Order have led its malls' team to rethink cost management and prioritise the important aspects of running the malls such as in upkeeping the cleanliness of the malls without increasing the cost.

“We are running the malls in an efficient way, even better than before. We do not want to push any extra cost onto the tenants, hence we compromise on certain areas while re-looking at other areas. This would be important for us in the next six months,” she said. KIP Group operates several community-centric malls including in Johor and Selangor.

1 Utama's Teo shared that during the MCO, the mall has decided to carry out its cleaning activities during the day instead of after operating hours at night like it used to do. 

“Previously we did it after opening hours but now as more people are concerned about hygiene and safety, we are doing the cleaning during daytime. To our surprise, it actually helped us to save costs as we do not need to pay overtime for the staff to work after the mall's opening hours.

“Shoppers also feel safer when they see the cleaning being done throughout the day,” said Teo.

Going forward, Sunway Malls' Chan said in preparing for the malls to reopen when the MCO is lifted, mall operators would definitely need to be more efficient in cost planning in the upcoming months.

"To make it cost-effective, management will need to rethink the usage of manpower, utilities and resources carefully," he added.

Stay calm. Stay at home. Keep updated on the latest news at #stayathome #flattenthecurve

For the full report on the virtual Fireside Chat read the May 8, 2020 issue of pullout.

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Interested to know more about what’s happening in the property market? Click and watch our previous Fireside Chats:

"Will the Malaysian property sector survive this mother of all crises?" 

“Undervalued Properties: Opportunities or Risk?”

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