Earlier this month, the company entered into an agreement with TRX City Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ministry of Finance, to bring the first Seibu departmental store in Malaysia to the 17-acre (6.88ha) Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) Lifestyle Quarter.
“We have signed on as an anchor tenant in a shopping centre there, taking up 250,000 sq ft of retail space. I believe TRX City will be the next centre of commercial office and residence (for Kuala Lumpur), just like KLCC was in the mid-1990s to mid-2000s.
"And since Pavilion Kuala Lumpur opened (in Jalan Bukit Bintang), the area has been the centre of the city from mid-2000s until now,” said Datuk Alfred Cheng Yoong Choong, the former group managing director of Singapore-listed Parkson Retail Asia Ltd and Hong Kong-listed Parkson Retail Group Ltd.
SKLDS will also open a Sogo departmental store in the Central i-City shopping centre in Shah Alam, Selangor, via a joint-venture with Central Pattana Public Co Ltd of Thailand. The mall is set to open in October 2018.
SKLDS intends to spend about RM40 million to RM50 million over the next 3 years to give Sogo Kuala Lumpur a posher look, which opened its doors 22 years ago. Sogo Kuala Lumpur currently occupies a leased premises owned by the Employees Provident Fund, which expires in 2035.
"I envisage future department stores will be bigger and better. Bigger means our minimum [retail] floor size will be about 200,000 sq ft to 300,000 sq ft per store as opposed to the current existing department stores operated by some of our competitors, which typically measure between 100,000 sq ft and 150,000 sq ft,” Cheng added.
Other future Sogo stores will be located at Paragon @ KL Northgate in Selayang, Selangor; the Mayang Mall in Kuala Terengganu and Prai Mall on the Penang mainland, which is touted to be the largest shopping mall in the northern region by Belleview Group.
“There are three other sites we are working on, but I am not at liberty to disclose them as yet as they are currently being finalised.
“We don’t foresee opening too many Seibu department stores in Malaysia. We might eventually have two or three of them, and 12 to 15 Sogo stores. But for the next 5 years, we have earmarked nine stores, out of which eight will be Sogo stores and one Seibu,” he said.
Under a trademark licence agreement, Japan’s Seven & I Holdings Co has granted SKLDS an exclusive licence to use the “Sogo” trade name in Malaysia.
Apart from Seibu, Cheng said the Japanese retail group also operates other speciality franchises such as Loft and Parco, which SKLDS plans to bring into the country.
In June last year, Cheng — through his family-controlled Singapore-listed investment vehicle LTC Corp Ltd — acquired a 50% stake in USP Equity Sdn Bhd from Datuk Andrew Lim Tatt Keong’s private vehicle USP Resources Sdn Bhd for RM70.14 million cash.
USP Resources has been holding a 90% stake in SKLDS since 10 November 2002. The remaining 10% is held by Tradewinds Resources Sdn Bhd, a company controlled by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.
The original article was first published in The Edge Financial Daily, 17 October 2016 with article title "Turning passion into business" written by Kang Siew Li.