CENTRAL Pattana, Thailand’s largest shopping-mall developer, said yesterday that it would cancel its plan to develop residential and commercial real-estate projects at its Central WestGate shopping complex in order to accommodate space for Ikea, which will set up its second Thai store there.
Wallaya Chirathivat, Central Pattana’s senior executive vice president for business development and project construction, told a press conference held to announce the upcoming opening of the Central WestGate complex at Bang Yai, in Nonthaburi province in the outskirts of Bangkok, that Ikea – the world’s largest furniture retailer – would be one of the key anchors of the developer’s 28th shopping complex.
With an investment of Bt14 billion, the 500,000-square-metre Central WestGate is the largest outlay ever by Central Pattana, and its first to be developed with the aim of being a “super-regional mall”.
The opening has been postponed from the originally planned date of July 23, and will now take place on August 28.
Ikea was earlier expected to put up its second Thailand store at Mega Bangyai, a shopping complex planned by Siam Future Development, which is the iconic Swedish company’s partner in its first store at Mega Bangna. Mega Bangyai would have competed against Central WestGate.
However, Siam Future Development is reportedly reviewing its original Mega Bangyai plan, with a view to deciding whether to sell the 50-rai (8-hectare) plot or to develop a smaller shopping complex on the site.
The Central WestGate complex occupies 60 rai of the 100 rai that Central Pattana has leased in the area.
Wallaya said Central Pattana had earlier planned to reserve the remaining land at the Central WestGate site for future development of mixed-used projects that would include residential units, office buildings and a hotel, but would now allocate the land for Ikea to build its second Thai store, which is expected to be completed in the next two years.
The Ikea store will occupy 40,000sqm – the same size as its first store in the Kingdom – and will be fully connected with Central WestGate on all three floors, she said.
Wallaya said Central Pattana had chosen Ikea and scrapped its own future real-estate projects at the location because its super-regional-mall concept for Central WestGate would favour retail development.
“Land prices have increased by two or three times since we announced the project. The prices of condominiums adjacent to the Skytrain have shot up from Bt40,000-Bt50,000 per square metre to Bt80,000-Bt100,000. There are already 150,000 residential units in the area, and the number is increasing by 30,000 annually,” she explained.
The MRT Bang Yai-Bang Sue electric-rail line is due for completion at the end of this year.
Wallaya said Central Pattana still planned to open a second super-regional mall in Greater Bangkok.
Central WestGate is targeted to attract 80,000 visitors per day during the initial stage following its opening.
Other anchors announced
Other key Central WestGate anchors were unveiled yesterday, including Doraemon Comic World, a new Central Department Store that will be of a similar size to its Lat Phrao branch, SB Design Square, a WestGate Cineplex that will include a “Kid Cinema”, two Tops Supermarket branches, and a Virgin Active Health Club.
Christian Rojkjaer, managing director of Ikano Private, which runs the Ikea stores in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, said Central WestGate answered all the needs of Ikea, which would like to become part of an exciting shopping destination that customers find it convenient to visit and where they can spend pleasure time with their families.
“We are confident that Central WestGate will become the best shopping centre in western Bangkok,” he said.
Meanwhile, Wallaya said Central Pattana, which usually took a long-term view in developing its shopping-complex projects, had no intention of aborting or postponing its existing plans, despite the currently weak Thai economy.
“Consumers at our shopping malls in major provinces outside Bangkok still have good purchasing power, although they might show some caution in their spending. The number of visitors has not dropped, and they will buy more when their confidence is restored,” she said.
Central Pattana will open its 29th shopping complex, CentralFestival East Ville, in the eastern part of Bangkok in the fourth quarter.