Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino and hotel will soon be able to provide its customers with what it says will be an “enhanced retail experience”, as the opening date for the precinct’s duty-free mall draws closer.
In addition to being Phnom Penh’s first underground mall, the project on Sihanouk Boulevard will also be the first premium, high-end duty free shopping outlet in the city.
The underground mall, being developed by Hong Kong’s NagaCorp, the operator of NagaWorld, is to span almost 4,000 square kilometres and will stretch from the current Naga hotel and casino to Naga2 – another mixed entertainment complex which is under construction and due for completion in 2017.
While Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp has previously flagged the opening of the mall in the third quarter of 2016, Ann Thida, deputy director of real estate services and investment firm CBRE Cambodia, said that NagaCorp’s underground mall will begin operations in early August.
Speaking to Post Property, NagaWorld confirmed it has officially handed over NagaCity Walk to its tenant China Duty Free Group (CDFG). Preparations are underway for the mall’s opening in August, with the space currently being fitted out ahead of its opening.
Under disclosed agreement terms, CDFG will lease about 3,900 square metres in NagaCity Walk, giving the firm the green light to operate duty-free shopping in the premises.
Beijing-headquartered CDFG is the largest duty-free operator in China, boasting more than 200 duty-free shops across China and around the world. The company is the only state-owned enterprise authorised by the State Council to operate duty-free business across China.
Phnom Penh is not CDFG’s first foray into Cambodia. In 2014, CDFG opened its first downtown duty-free shop in Siem Reap, known as the Angkor Duty Free Store. Spanning 4,500 square metres of retail space, the Angkor Duty Free Store has around 200 luxury global brands.
CDFG general manager John Zhao said NagaCity Walk will hold a range of luxury brands catered for the general travelling public, especially brands sought after by the Chinese.
“Chinese tourists to Cambodia have grown significantly in the past few years and we expect the growth momentum will continue to in the next few years,” he said.
Zhao said because NagaWorld is a tourist destination in its own right, it is fitting to have a duty-free operation within the complex.
“It is natural for us to choose to open our Phnom Penh flagship store in NagaCity Walk,” he said.
“After all, the duty-free industry is for the travelling public. We believe we have chosen the best location in Phnom Penh for our store.”
NagaCity Walk, which surpasses $90 million in capital cost terms, will boast some 400 high-end brands, including Dior, Swarovski and Gucci, offering products at prices 25 to 30 per cent cheaper than the standard retail price.
NagaWorld said it is honoured to have partnered with CDFG, adding it would be a long-term partnership.
Commenting on the duty-free mall, Thida is confident the underground shopping concept would garner ample interest.
“It will gather a lot of attention because this is a tourist hotspot, and it will connect the hotel and casino,” she said, noting that the area should attract plenty of foot traffic.
Meanwhile, Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong, also confirmed the mall would begin operations shortly.
Po Eavkong, general manager at Asia Real Estate, said on a development level the underground mall concept is a good idea, but noted that the retail market at present is competitive.
CDFG is retaining a bullish outlook on Cambodia’s consumer market, with rising tourist numbers to the Kingdom underpinning the firm’s eagerness to expand.
“Yes, we are continuously seeking to expand in Cambodia,” Zhao said.
“In our business, we either continue to expand, re-invest, innovate; or we die.”