Costing more than $200 million, the four-storey Aeon Mall in Phnom Penh, set to open in July 2014, is being hailed as Cambodia’s biggest shopping complex. Makoto Yajima, managing director of Aeon Mall Cambodia, talked to Mak Lawrence Li about the project.
What makes this project stand out among similar ventures in in Phnom Penh?
The shape of our mall is in a “Two Anchors with one Mall” format, which consist of two or more large-scale anchor stores connected with a mall area occupied by specialty stores. While other facilities in Cambodia are mainly in tall buildings, ours is long on the site which is quite different. Our mall includes a huge cinema complex and a brand new bowling centre, which is comfortable and exciting for customers to visit.
Why come to Cambodia now?
The economic growth is rapid here in Phnom Penh, and it is also a dynamic market with such a huge younger generation. There is no special reason for the timing. Time is now for us, and from now on we will do our best for Cambodia.
What does Aeon Mall bring to Cambodia?
A new style of shopping is coming here. Citizens, especially for the younger generations, always seek new fashion, services and amusement facilities. What we want them to realise is that shopping can indeed combine with entertainment, all together as a whole in one place. We would also like to offer three things: high quality products, excellent services and adequate parking space. Many malls in the city do not consist of enough parking spaces, but we do and there will be 1,400 for cars and 1,800 for motorbikes.
What are your marketing strategies? Any targeted customers or income groups?
We call it the ‘one-stop solution’. Four aspects: shopping, community, entertainment and ecology. Customers can fulfill all their needs here. And the location we choose is located very near to the city centre so people can get here easily, which is already another strategy. We are very confident we will be competitive because of our services provided. Every citizen in Phnom Penh will be our target; we offer high quality products and services with affordable prices.
What do you want to accomplish in the long term?
Our primary aim is to introduce our brand to citizens, letting them know about the unique styles of Aeon. The second thing is training up local staff with Aeon Mall standards, which is ‘serving with hospitality’. We have looked at some of the shopping situations here and staff used to eat or sleep inside the stores, they don’t pay much care to the customers. We want all our customers to enjoy proper services and staff will also be confident in serving clients.
How about volume and spending? Any estimates or predictions?
Regarding sales or revenue, it is hard for us to disclose at the moment but we hope for up to 10 million visitors at the mall in the first year.
What are your future plans in Cambodia?
We will consider opening two or three malls in Phnom Penh, if the first one is successful enough. We want to stick as the closest retailing company in every place for serving our customers, and the Aeon Mall Cambodia Company would want to
become a local enterprise eventually.
How would you foresee malls developing in Cambodia?
There will be more and more competitors and I think it is good news for us. Keen competition means fast growth and the customers will have more choices too.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity