Asia’s mall market more diverse, says ICSC

Over half the shopping center space currently under construction globally is in China alone. And Asia is now home to some of the world’s most innovative and diverse shopping destinations.

Such is the backdrop to ICSC’s annual RECon Asia convention for which hundreds of retail real estate executives have converged on Singapore this week.

As the development progresses, the ISCS explains, Asia is offering increasingly diverse opportunities, including factory outlet centers, luxury malls and retail of all stripes in primary, secondary and tertiary cities.

As growth slows in China’s full-price luxury market, developers are responding by building luxury factory outlet centers, such as Suzhou Village, a project built by London-based Value Retail near Yangcheng Lake, a few miles northeast of the city of Suzhou, in Jiangsu Province.

Value Retail says it plans to invest $450 million in three additional outlet projects in China. Investment management firm TIAA Henderson Real Estate is also busy developing outlet centers, in Shanghai and Foshan, China, having recently expanded an existing center in Tianjin, in northern China.

Some of the most innovative retail development anywhere in the world is taking place in Bangkok, observed Sydney, Australia–based retail consultant Michael Baker, citing as an example Central Group’s Central Embassy, (pictured above) a stunning, recently opened eight-level luxury mall in a 37-story modern building housing a five-star hotel, restaurants and a multiplex.

In more mature markets, competition is obliging developers to redevelop their properties to maintain their edge with consumers who are now spoiled for choice. That is certainly the case in Singapore. One of the city-state’s original centers, Plaza Singapura, got a substantial revamp several years ago, and several other venerable properties have followed suit this year, including Eastpoint, Marina Square and Suntec City.

Among the new centers in Singapore keeping the older ones on their toes is the luxury Shoppes at Marina Bay, the retail component of the Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino, where RECon Asia is being held.

“It is fascinating to watch the evolution of our industry in Asia, as it responds to the varied and changing demands in different countries and markets,” said ICSC President and CEO Michael P. Kercheval, as the conference kicked off Monday evening. “There are a lot of busy executives here, finding opportunity in a variety of formats and markets, from Shanghai to Bangkok, and from Seoul to right here in Singapore.”


Companies attending the conference include Shenzhen, China–based SCP, which has developed more than 60 malls across China, and has worked with such partners as Aeon, Blackstone, CapitaLand and Simon, among many other prominent international companies; Sands Retail, with retail-entertainment projects in a number of markets; Benoy, the architectural firm involved in such premier projects as ION Orchard, Singapore, Lotte World Mall, Seoul and Westfield London; CBRE, Taubman Asia and numerous other names prominent in the industry.

Panel discussions and presentations over the course of the three-day event will cover investment, market research, outlet center development and retailers. “The high caliber of the speakers and of the attendees,” observed Kercheval, “will provide some indispensable insight into our industry’s present and future.”

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