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Tough market greets new mall; owner unfazed

Tough market greets new mall; owner unfazed

Cambodia’s newest shopping centre has opened into a tough market, according to rival retailers, but tenants of the City Mall Shopping Centre are already reporting a good start.

The four-storey shopping complex opened on the corner of streets 217 and 274, near Olympic Stadium, just last Wednesday, but clothing store owner Chet Vanna said she was pleased with the level of foot traffic and the number of sales she had made so far.

”From the beginning, there have been good numbers of people, and at least five or six customers have made purchases every day,” she said. “But it is a new mall,” she added, acknowledging it was too early to tell how successful it would be over the long term, particularly given the level of competition in the city.

Shoe shop owner Chea Srey Na echoed Chet Vanna’s concerns, saying she was worried many of the people visiting were just there to look at the new centre and would take some persuading to become regular shoppers.

There is certainly plenty of competition, with Phnom Penh already boasting a large number of “one-stop” shopping destinations, including the city’s first major mall, Sorya Shopping Centre, which opened for business in 2002, Sydney Mall, Paragon Cambodia, Sovanna and BS Department Store. Young’s Commercial Centre and Resort, a $50 million complex on the Chroy Changvar peninsula, is also set to join the competition, though it is not certain when it will launch.

These retailers are already reporting a drop in sales as the global economic recession bites firmly into consumer wallets. Sydney Supermarket Chief Accountant In Sopheap told the Post last week sales had dropped 50 percent since early 2008, and the new mall would only make business harder. “I’m worried about a new shopping mall in the city because, if they are good enough, it will be hard to complete with them,” he said.

Sorya Mall General Manager Lam Sopheap said sales had dropped by about a quarter and the new mall would ratchet up the pressure.

“However, I can assure you that our mall will remain number one in Cambodia because we have the best location in the heart of Phnom Penh,” he said.

Fu Yang Investment Director Lee Hsieh Yu, the Taiwanese owner of the US$10 million-plus City Mall, said he was not worried about the competition but acknowledged success would depend on giving customers a reason to return through monthly promotions, prize draws and a commitment to keeping the mall fresh and original.

“I will have concerts to bring in the crowds, and I will constantly update decorations and change the fit-out of the retail space to keep things new for my customers,” he said.

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