Despite a tougher retail market, The Mall Group in Thailand plans to expand this year, allocating 5 billion baht (US$139.8 million) for new projects and upgrades.
CEO Phaibul Kanokvatanawan says this includes 800 million baht pegged for a new building behind The Mall Bang Khae.
Parking will also be increased to 3800 spaces from 3000, and the remaining 4.2 billion baht will pay for an extension of two malls in Nakhon Ratchasima, scheduled to open soon. After relaunching its Korat project in September, total space at the complex will be 200,000 sqm.
Two billion baht will be spent on developing Blue Port, the group’s latest retail project in Hua Hin. About 80 per cent complete, this project is scheduled to open in October, earlier than planned.
Part of the budget will be allocated renovating The Mall Bang Kapi to respond to the rapidly changing customer profile of the area.
While competitors have expanded their retail complexes on Rama IX and Ekamai-Ram Intra, including Crystal Park Phase II, Central East Ville and Show DC, Phaibul is optimistic, saying his company will thrive by both catering to core customers across a complete range of products and fostering brand loyalty.
However, the spending power of Thai consumers has not improved despite heavy consumption at the end of last year sparked by a government tax break, he says. Also, overseas tourist levels are back to normal at Siam Paragon, The Emporium and EmQuartier (pictured) since the Lunar New Year holiday.
“We want the government to speed up the airport extension to attract more tourists to Thailand.”
Phaibul says the company expects sales growth of 5 per cent to 52 billion baht this year.