Malaysia Business Times, October 06 2004
By NURYUSHIDA LAILY YUSOF
YTL Corp Bhd, via subsidiary YTL Land Sdn Bhd, expects to invest up to RM220 million by March next year to create a new look and “personality” for the upmarket Starhill Shopping Centre in Kuala Lumpur, says managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh.
The amount would include the RM150 million investment announced by the group back in 1999, under its plan to turn Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur into a more prominent tourist and shopping destination.
Currently undergoing renovation, the new Starhill will re-emerge early next year with a cosmetic and identity change, Yeoh said.
“As a shopping centre that wants to have staying power and strong international visibility, there is a need to stamp a mark in the local industry as an icon and a trendsetter,” he said at a media briefing yesterday.
“What Selfridges and Harrods have done to London, Starhill will hopefully do to Kuala Lumpur,” he added.
In his speech, Yeoh said total retail sales in Malaysia are expected to reach nearly RM54.7 billion in 2005 and expand further to top RM67 billion in 2008. This translates into a compounded annual growth rate of between 6.5 and 7.4 per cent.
“We are still scraping the tip of an iceberg,” he noted.
Yeoh said Malaysia is well on its way to make itself a retail destination of choice, since tourist arrivals to the country are on a sharp upward curve.
Once the tourists arrive, shopping is the second largest expenditure they incur. Giving an example, he said West Asian and Indian tourists typically spend between RM2,000 and RM4,000 per person, per trip.
“The Chinese shoppers with their increasing economic muscle are already sustaining retailers in Hong Kong and Shanghai, and they too will be shopping in Kuala Lumpur soon,” Yeoh said.
He said that effective March next year, YTL will be lowering its rental rates for Starhill tenants in return for a percentage of the tenants’ sales.
To create a brand new Starhill, YTL has commissioned New York-based building designer David Rockwell to redesign the shopping mall. In line with its new branding, each floor will be specifically themed with names such as Muse, Feast, Pamper, Indulge and Explore.
YTL’s investment in the Starhill project includes the creation of a skybridge between the shopping mall and The Ritz Carlton hotel as well as The Ritz Carlton Residences luxury serviced apartments.