Phnom Penh’s retail industry moved a step closer to joining the ranks of regional centres such as Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur with the groundbreaking of a $205 million mall yesterday.
It is anticipated that globally recognised brands will have outlets in the centre, which will be located along the Tonle Sap river in the capital’s Chamkamon district.
However, Aeon Mall, the Japanese developer building the centre, declined to name specific retailers.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was present at the ground-breaking ceremony, said construction of the mall was scheduled to be completed in 2014 and the Japanese company’s decision to invest at this time was a sign of confidence in the Kingdom’s economic and political stability in the lead-up to next year’s general election — a time he said traditionally frightened investors.
“We see the market power,” Hun Sen said. “If there was no real buying power, no one would come to invest in such a big shopping centre,” he added.
“If the buying power of Cambodian people is not big, this company would not think it neccessary to construct a mall over 10 hectares,” he said.
“The land is more than seven hectares, but they will build on over 100,000 metres... Let them do it. They wouldn’t stock their goods here if the people weren’t around to buy them.”
Motoya Okada, president of Aeon, said during a question-and-answer session at yesterday’s press conference that the mall will have three floors.
The first floor will be a shopping centre where foodstuff will be sold, while the second and third floors will stock clothes and general equipment.
Okada also said the company is looking to establish five other shopping malls in different locations in Phnom Penh, but more investment capital needs to be arranged and extact locations have not been targeted.
”From what I can see, the fast growing areas of development are not in the middle of the city but in other urban areas,” he said.
Ear Kim Keang, general director and owner of Young Commercial Center, said the multimillion-dollar shopping mall development would not see success in the short-term.
“Who are the supporters?” he asked. “But I am still happy they invest money in Cambodia; we are happy,” he said. “We don’t dare to compete. We don’t know how because they are very rich.”
He added that everyone needs shopping centres, but the Cambodian economy is still slow and it will not push the mall-goers to buy.
“How much do they in one market? What do Cambodians traditionally need? At this time, Chinese goods are cheap but cannot sell well.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]