Tenants at Orchard Central concerned about slow traffic at mall

Orchard Central, one of Singapore’s newest malls along Orchard Road, is having some issues with its tenants. Just four months after its opening, some tenants are complaining about slow traffic at the mall.

Besides having Singapore’s first indoor rock-climbing wall, the 12-storey mall has billed itself as a one-stop shopping destination for the modern individual, with its range of retail and F&B outlets.

However, shoppers are reportedly not thronging the mall as yet.

Poh Yu Seung, base camp manager, Border X, said: “During weekends, the mall is okay, but unfortunately on weekdays, I think Singaporeans are too busy working so the mall is kind of quiet. But the fact is, if you look at Orchard Road on the weekdays, it is terribly quiet.”

Garage Shop House, which imports foreign brands, said its sales have fallen since it opened two months ago. It is one of 20 tenants – out of a total of 170 – that have asked for rental rebates, ranging from 50 to 70 per cent.

Lim Li Yuen, managing director of Garage Shop House, said: “We came into this mall in a different economic situation. At that time, maybe we were prepared to pay higher rates… But the market reality is that business has dropped by quite a lot.”

Orchard Central’s management, Far East Organisation, is already taking steps to offer tenants a helping hand. It has been meeting up with tenants and it has committed up to S$5 million in advertising and promotion efforts to drive traffic to the mall.

Kelvin Ling, chief operating officer, retail business, Far East Organisation, said: “Every mall is different. All the malls need time to grow, just like building a brand. There are established ones and there are also new ones. Likewise, the established tenants will have a following and the new ones might need more help.”

Far East has added that Orchard Central has a unique shopping concept with a rooftop garden and art gallery. Shoppers, it said, will need time to appreciate such elements.

In fact, Far East added, some of its tenants are doing well.

Joshua Yang, managing director, Molecule, said: “I’m quite satisfied with the visitorship although it’s not the busiest mall in Singapore because right now, it’s still new. Normally, for a new mall to kick in, it takes about six months to a year. So basically, I would say there is great potential in the mall.”

“Singaporeans are well-travelled and I think if they have a unique niche brand that they are bringing in and they can create excitement around these brands, Singaporeans will patronise these new shopping centres,” said Dr Prem N Shamdasani, associate professor of marketing at the National University of Singapore Business School.

“The challenge is that these brand owners will also have to invest and create excitement around the brands, work with the new shopping centre management and develop themes and activities around their products and new mix of brands.”

Dr Shamdasani added that if tenants and the mall management get the formula right, excitement and buzz over a new mall can be generated on the onset.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 3 Oct 2009

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