Retailers rush to expand in Kota Kinabalu

KUALA LUMPUR: Retailers are rushing to expand their presence in Kota Kinabalu as the retail sector in Sabah’s capital is set to grow 5% to 10% in the next few years.

“Parkson has been in Kota Kinabalu since the 1980s. The market there is good. Currently, we have two stores — one in Karamunsing and another in One Borneo Mall,” Parkson Holdings Bhd general manager Loh Chai Hoon told The Edge Financial Daily.

Parkson is slated to open its third store in the soon-to-be launched Imago Mall, which is owned by Asian Pac Holdings Bhd.

The Imago Mall, to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, has attracted international and local retailers, some of which are making their debut in Kota Kinabalu.

“This will be our largest store in Kota Kinabalu. The opening of our third store in Sabah demonstrates our commitment to grow our presence there,” said Loh.

The country’s largest department store operator does not rule out the possibility of opening another store in the city.

“We will look at various factors before we plan on expanding and bringing in one more outlet into Kota Kinabalu, but we are open to it if the opportunity arises,” said Loh.

Making its first entry into Kota Kinabalu is Aeon Fantasy (M) Sdn Bhd, which will be opening its store in the Imago Mall.

“This will be our first project in Sabah. Our concept is very new and it will bring a different experience to the local community,” managing director Chong Swee Ying told The Edge Financial Daily.

She said opening an outlet in Sabah is in line with the company’s strategy of expanding in Malaysia.

“We plan to open at least three outlets there,” she said.

Bonia Group and Mcat Box Office Sdn Bhd are also making their first foray into Sabah through their brands Sembonia and MBO Cinemas.

Valiram Group’s Charles and Keith, Victoria’s Secret and DNP Clothing Sdn Bhd’s Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridges and Topshop are among the retailers that are bringing local and international brands into Kota Kinabalu.

Other retailers include Swarovski (M) Trading and Padini Group.

On Kota Kinabalu’s development as a port and commercial hub, Asian Pac chairman Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin said Sabah should further develop itself as a commercial hub.

“Dubai and Singapore have opened their waters and attracted the best talents to develop their countries. They managed to reel in many investments worldwide,” he said.

Comparing Kota Kinabalu to Iskandar Malaysia, Najmuddin said the latter is a greenfield venture which will take years to prove itself, while Kota Kinabalu is already a city with its own attractions.

Najmuddin is bullish that the annual retail spending in Kota Kinabalu will exceed RM1.4 billion.

“The Kota Kinabalu International Airport is the second busiest airport in Malaysia with about three million tourists a year,” he said.

Najmuddin said tourists from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Brunei and Hong Kong visit the city that provides investment opportunities and growth for the whole state.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 13, 2014.


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