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Siem Reap goes to the mall

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When it rains, it pours, in Siem Reap's high-end retail sector, with Angkor Trade Centre soon to be joined by two more lavish new shopping centres

PETER OLSZEWSKI

Sales representative Pech Savouen says Siem Reap’s Royal Shopping Galleries will outclass Phnom Penh’s Sorya centre.

A RASH of city-style retailing has erupted in Siem Reap, and developers of four major shopping centres will soon begin to tug the purse-strings of the province's increasingly affluent shoppers.

This urbanisation, mainly targeting Siem Reap's bourgeoning Cambodian middle class, began earlier this year when the four-storey Angkor Trade Centre opened on the riverside with a clutch of trendy stores, plus the Western-style Swensen's and The Pizza Company, owned by EFG Co Ltd, a member of RM Asia Group.

A week from today is the scheduled balloons-and-banners grand opening of Lucky Market Group's stylish new shopping centre, Lucky Mall, which has been in planning and construction for two years.  When fully rented,  it would comprise 24 stores, including a large supermarket, with a car park for 50 cars and 10 buses.

Class warfare

Lucky Market Group marketing manager Michael Pasion declined to define the centre's target demographic, instead taking an egalitarian stance by telling the Post, "Basically it's for everyone. We are in Cambodia so we are targeting Cambodian people of course, but tourists can enjoy it as well.

"With local people, we are not targeting only Siem Reap's middle to upper classes, everybody is welcome. This is the first complete shopping mall in Siem Reap."

This is news to Angkor Trade Centre which for months now has been claiming it is Siem Reap's first true shopping mall.

A spokesman from Angkor Trade Centre told Post that he disagrees with Pasion's noble sentiments about Lucky Mall's market being for "everyone," and said he does not see the new mall as competition because it will be targeting the "upper classes as opposed to the middle class we target."

Pasion also said he does not see his centre in competition with Angkor Trade Centre because, "We are located quite far from each other. We have a different market. They are targeting more tourists and we are targeting more locals."

While we focus on the tourist market, we see our long-term target market as Khmer.

No matter who their target markets truly are, both Angkor Trade Centre and Lucky Mall are soon to be dwarfed by the construction of the massive Royal Shopping Galleries, on Vithei Charles de Gaulle, a popular route to Angkor Wat, only three kilometres farther down the road.
Developed by Phnom Penh-based KC Gecin Enterprises, and financed by Cambodian, Thai and Vietnamese construction companies, the four-storey, 18-escalator,  two-glass-encased-elevator complex will, according to sales representative Pech Savoeun be "two times bigger"  than  Phnom Penh's popular Sorya Centre.

He added it will be a "world class one-stop shopping centre, a must-visit hotspot," with parking for 350 cars spread across three storeys, with the fourth storey being solely devoted to car parking.  Plus there will be parking for 19 buses.

The vast complex, on a one hectare site, and providing over 31,500 square metres of retail space, has an estimated shop count of 430, plus amusements including an electronic games centre being developed by a Taiwanese company.

The centre's lavish promotional material says, "Royal Shopping Galleries is thoughtfully divided into various theme zones. There will be trendy and fashion, beauty and pamper, food and beverage, cyber and lifestyle, leisure and entertainment."

Pech Savouen is also precise about target markets.  High on the list will be international and domestic tourists who will lured to the centre by a gigantic roadside music and fountain light shows.

Pech Savouen said, "But while we focus on the day-to-day tourist market, we see our long-term target market as being Khmer, due to the local population increase caused by people coming to do business in Siem Reap."

Construction of this shopping centre is now 85 percent complete, and while the company is shooting optimistically for a launch by year's end, Pech Savouen said the more realistic date is "before the Khmer new year".

Retail boom

While construction of the Royal Shopping Galleries is beginning to draw to a close, ground is now being cleared to prepare for construction of yet another large shopping centre, The Angkor Shopping Arcade, on National Road 6, financed by Canadia Bank PLC.

But the consumerisation of Siem Reap is not only the domain of large shopping centres. In recent weeks many smart, small businesses have opened, especially along Sivatha Boulevard, which is emerging as a stylish promenade.  New stores include menswear shop Angkor Tep; iOne, an Apple authorised reseller; and a Lucky Seven restaurant.

Also just opened on National Road 6 is the I Kea (Siem Reap) Spongy Furniture House (no connection to the Swedish franchise Ikea,) and a smattering of 101 Fruit & Toot stores has opened throughout the city.

Cambodian tycoon Kith Meng's Royal Group, which has local distribution right to restaurant chains KFC and Pizza Hut, has signalled its imminent entry into Siem Reap at the small end, while Phnom Penh company Bong Karem has announced it will introduce ice cream carts flogging Italian gelato throughout the city.

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