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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Parkson plans to open store in capital: report

Parkson plans to open store in capital: report

091211_07
A woman enters a Parkson department store in Beijing. The Malaysian retail group is reportedly planning to expand by opening a store in Phnom Penh. BLOOMBERG

Outlet is likely to locate in JSM Indochina retail development

Embassy Centre WILL absolutely change the face of retail in Phnom Penh.

Malaysian shopping chain Parkson Group plans to open its first Cambodian outlet in Phnom Penh by early 2011, according to a report Wednesday in Malaysia’s Star newspaper.

The paper quoted Parkson Retail Group Managing Director Alfred Cheng as saying the company would launch a flagship retail store as part of an overseas growth plan in which it aims to expand its retail space by 15 percent each year in the countries where it operates.

The retail group currently has 35 stores in Malaysia, 44 in China and five in Vietnam, occupying more than 1.6 million square metres of retail space.

Neither Cheng nor Parkson Corp Chief Operating Officer Toh Peng Koon responded on Wednesday or Thursday to a request for details on its proposed Cambodia venture.

However, the most likely location for the new store is in a mixed-use development planned for Phnom Penh by JSM Indochina Ltd, an AIM-listed closed-end fund focused on retail and residential real estate investment and development in Vietnam and Cambodia.

The fund announced in December 2007 it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Parkson Vietnam Co Ltd, a subsidiary of the Parkson Group, to take on a long-term lease agreement as the anchor tenant for its proposed Embassy Centre development.

Embassy Centre will feature 30,515 square metres of retail space, along with 100 high-rise serviced apartments from one to three bedrooms. The property is situated near Central Market, the US embassy, Wat Phnom, the governor’s house and Raffles Hotel Le Royal.

Under the terms of the proposed lease agreement, Parkson will lease 20,000 square metres of the gross lettable area for a term of 20 years. The proposed lease agreement had not been finalised at the time, and was subject to further negotiations and due diligence by Parkson, JSM said in 2007.

Craig Jones, the chief executive officer of JSM Capital Indochina, which manages the investment portfolio of JSM Indochina, could not be reached for comment this week.

However, he told the Post in late October that the Embassy Centre would “absolutely change the face of retail in Phnom Penh”. It would be up to Bangkok standards but on a scale to meet Phnom Penh’s needs, he said.

JSM was close to finalising a contract with a construction company to push ahead with the development, which was a cornerstone of the company’s AIM listing in 2007, Jones said.

The centre will be on a “big transportation corridor”, Jones said, meaning it is unlikely to cause traffic congestion as expected with other developments planned for the capital.

The development would also contain ample parking, which Jones said would help develop the city centre. “The community needs parking. We are providing 700 parking spaces in the central city, which is beneficial to the shopping centre and beneficial to the Phnom Penh community,” he said.

Jones recently resigned as executive director of JSM Indochina ahead of a vote on a leadership challenge by San Francisco hedge fund Passport Capital LLC. JSM Capital Chief Financial Officer Rowell Tan also resigned as executive director from the six-man board.

Non-executive Chairman Michael Tanner was ousted in the vote Monday, which also called for a return to shareholders of uninvested capital and a review of the listed fund’s investment strategy.

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