Local firm Concept i taps huge potential of Chinese malls

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Local firm Concept i taps huge potential of Chinese malls

The Thai architecture firm Concept i Co Ltd is eyeing prospective growth in the retail property sector of economic powerhouse China, where more than 1,700 new shopping malls are planned for the next decade.

local firm concept i taps huge potential of chinese malls - 2Managing director Geoff Morrison says there will be 1,766 new retail projects of more than 100,000 square metres each planned in booming China between now and 2020.

They will be located in first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, second-tier cities such as Nanjing, Shenzhen and Chongqing and elsewhere throughout the country.

To tap this potential market in China, Concept i will expand its five-year-old Shanghai office by adding more senior level staff. The Shanghai office now has 20 staff, half of them designers.

Design jobs in China accounted for 80% of the company’s portfolio last year as other markets slowed down. This year, the proportion has dropped to 60%, with Concept i receiving more jobs from emerging markets in the Middle East, especially Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Concept i is the interior designer for Phase 2 of Nanjing Deji Plaza Phase 2, located in Nanjing with completion scheduled in 2011. The Thailand-based company also has a Shanghai office where it expects to add to its current staff of 20.

Local jobs in Thailand normally account for 10-20% of the portfolio. The company is now working on design jobs for the new Robinson Department Store on Rama IX Road and Central Group for Zen Department Store in Shenyang, plus Bank of Ayudhya plans a makeover of its branches nationwide to attract a younger clientele.

“Retail design is about visualising, landscape, lighting, image, identity, sequence of space, showing and display of product, making shoppers relax and stay longer,” says the Canadian architect who worked in the UK and has been in Thailand since 1993.

local firm concept i taps huge potential of chinese malls - 1He says retail design trends have moved toward bringing hotel styles to shopping areas by offering hotel services like spas. Malls are no longer just a box, but rather a part of daily life where people can relax and socialise.

“Retail is a lifestyle, providing education, health care and entertainment. It should be somewhere people feel convenient and comfortable, with a variety of choices for the right target,” says Mr Morrison.

Retail developers should really understand the target visitors, developing expressive malls that can change all the time and meet shoppers’ needs.

Another trend is for luxury malls to come closer to mid-market shopping to tap energetic shoppers in this segment.

The retail sector is a potential market for the design industry, as it can take five to eight years for a shopping mall to undergo a major renovation, depending on competition. In some locations, renovation is once every two to three years.

“The retail renovation process is complex and multifaceted, involving a web of market, financial, operational, technical and creative skills. Renovation should always set its own key target _ to pay for itself quickly,” he says.

Owners should experience a surge in leasing and rental income immediately following a successful renovation. In successful projects, owners may achieve up to a 70% increase in gross income following renovation or a 25-30% increase in average leasing rents.

Mr Morrison says the first eight months of this year were a boom period for the company, with 23 new design jobs due to the reawakening of the retail markets after the 2008 global financial crisis. It expects to show 2.5 times growth in turnover by year-end.

Established in 1996, Concept i, which specialises in commercial, food and beverage, leisure and entertainment design, recorded annual growth of 10-20% until 2008-09, when it experienced its first decline. Last year, it took on only 26 new projects.

Thailand is an oasis of cultural spirit and design ability, aptitude and talent. Regionally, Thai designers are highly respected, and there are many excellent firms operating regionally from Thailand,” says Mr Morrison.

Design is a profession that by its very nature crosses international boundaries. The key is powerful marketing, clear communication and a focused effort.

The company last week received the Bloomberg International (Europe and Africa Region) Award 2010 for its Akmerkez retail renovation in Istanbul.

Website: http://www.concept-i-design.com/

Email: admin@concept-i-design.com

Source: http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/retail/198347/local-firm-concept-i-taps-huge-potential-of-chinese-malls

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