8 June 2022
Penang is expected to host a new Mitsui Outlet in the near future as Mitsui Fudosan Co Ltd and joint venture partner Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd are awaiting greenlight from the state authorities.
The approval for the new mall, which would be located near Penang International Airport (PIA), was expected by the third quarter of this year, said TJ Cheah, who is managing director of MFMA Development.
MFMA Development is a 70:30 joint venture between Mitsui and MAHB, with the Japanese retail giant holding the majority stake.
“We’re planning to open (an outlet mall) in Penang. At the moment, we don’t have a date (of launching) because we’re still going through some processes with the local authorities.
“But we’re getting there. We’ll announce it soon, hopefully in the next month or two,” he told NST Business in an exclusive interview recently.
Cheah added that there was an opportunity up north that was missing, which led the company to choose Penang as the location to build the new outlet.
The plans for a Mitsui Outlet in Penang was first reported in 2018, with the media quoting Penang Federal Action Council chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman as saying that the construction of the mall would be part of the expansion of PIA.
Cheah said Mitsui Outlet in the country had gained traction in the last few years given that Malaysia was largely made up of mid-income group earners who prefers to shop discounted products or items are that below the original prices.
“I also feel that it fulfills the desire for them to upgrade themselves at an affordable price… I think Mitsui Outlet has been gaining traction.
“At first, people didn’t seem to understand what the outlet offers but when they realised that we offer discounts and products that are below the original prices, I think people find that as a really good deal,” he added.
Mitsui and MAHB recently launched Phase 3 of the Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA Sepang that featured a sports zone and an array of contemporary home and living offerings.
The Phase 3, which measures about 82,885 square feet of gross floor area, houses two brand new tenants – Objet and Courts as well as new concept stores by Adidas, Nike and Puma.
Cheah said the launch of Phase 3 was timely as the mall was seeing increasing footfall traffic, especially after Malaysia ended its lockdown and opened its international borders.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic had been challenging for the outlet in Sepang, but at the same time it had helped the company to think outside the box by leveraging on digital marketing as the main communication channel with its shoppers.
Some of the new efforts include “Live Exclusive Sales” via Facebook to create an alternative revenue stream for the outlet’s business partners, enhancing the website to promote direct engagement between the respective brands and customers and the introduction of online personal shopper as well as introduction of online contest entry.
When asked if online shopping would ever trump brick-and-mortar, Cheah said that the latter was still relevant in the retail industry particularly in Southeast Asia, although the online experience would continue to grow in the future.
“Our consumers (in Southeast Asia) prefer to touch and feel things. People drive all the way out here (Mitsui Outlet KLIA) to see the products themselves, feel it, test it, wear it, be comfortable with it, be satisfied before they make that purchase,” he said, adding that the mall was expected to welcome about four million visitors this year.
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