Myanmar's Suu Kyi woos investors to crisis-hit Rakhine, decries 'negative' focus

NGAPALI BEACH, Feb 22 — Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi called for investment in the crisis-hit western state of Rakhine today, saying the world had “focused narrowly on negative aspects” in the state from which some 730,000 Rohingya Muslims…

Be proactive in capitalising on R&D results, Sabah entrepreneurs told

KOTA KINABALU, Feb 19 — Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal urged entrepreneurs in the state to be more proactive in capitalising the research and development (R&D) results produced by various government agencies to develop more…

Yayasan Sabah unit eyes RM164m profit this year

KOTA KINABALU, Feb 13 — Yayasan Sabah Group (YSG) said its subsidiary, Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd (ICSB), has targeted a 30 per cent increase in profit to RM164 million this year. Last year, ICSB, which operates as an investment and holding…

Special festive promotions offered for Rivervale Condominium project

KUCHING: CMS Property Development is ushering in the Year of the Earth Pig this Chinese New Year with special promotions for customers of its high-rise residential project, Rivervale Condominium. The promotion includes attractive savings for group purchases on top of low downpayments, free legal fees for Sales and Purchase agreements and loan documents, as well […]

F&B outlets get bigger bite in shopping malls

PETALING JAYA: Shopping malls are now allocating a higher percentage of their tenant mix (more space) to food & beverage (F&B) retailers, partly because competition from online platforms has impacted other types of retailers such as fashion, according to a market research and consulting firm.

“Traditionally, F&B made up less than 20% of a mall’s tenant mix, but can go up to 40% nowadays,” Stratos Consulting Group Sdn Bhd managing director Tina Leong told SunBiz.

She said with the tenant mix now consisting of more F&B, this means that malls will need to design or renovate in such a way as to cater to the specific technical requirements that F&B retailers have, for example provisions for water, grease traps, storage, waste disposal and daily delivery.

“F&B as a segment itself has become the anchor for some malls,” said Leong.

She said malls that have a high F&B tenant mix include the refurbished 3 Damansara (formerly Tropicana City Mall), which now has more F&B compared to before. Similarly, Paradigm Mall in Petaling Jaya has refurbished its lower ground floor, which now consists of more F&B than previously.

Sunway Velocity Mall general manager centre management Danny Lee said F&B makes up 27% of the mall’s tenant mix currently, and that it is targeting to have F&B reach 30%.

“Naturally, F&B is doing better compared to others,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, Leong noted that having more or certain types of F&B can also be part of experiential retailing.

“For example, people nowadays, especially millennials, appreciate and are willing to spend on meals or drinks with friends and family, within nicer ambience restaurants or cafes, due to the memorable experiences this create.”

She said to continue to draw shoppers (rather than them shopping online), more shopping malls are looking at creating engaging “experiences” for their customers. Experiential shopping simply means making the physical act of spending money more than simply handing over cash in exchange for goods and services.

“More grocery stores are incorporating food and wine bars where people can enjoy a meal or a drink as well as a social experience before or instead of shopping,” said Leong, adding that some retailers have also integrated augmented reality into their stores, for example Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai and US-based fashion brand Reformation.

Examples of experiential shopping are malls that have attractively themed or landscaped spots on every floor, where one can stop to take photographs with their friends or family, such as Aeon Mall Kuching. Some community malls in Bangkok, Thailand, have incorporated spaces for pet parks, children’s sand pits and jogging tracks.

“Another recently opened mall, Kiara 163 in Mont Kiara, has incorporated the ‘experiential’ element into their mall design, with a central garden and water features for people to relax. Apart from design features, other ways of creating memorable shopper experiences are through interesting or unique events, activities, decorations, pop-up stores, technological innovations and customer service,” explained Leong.

She said some of the major major malls have been doing this all along, such as Suria KLCC and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur that usually have attractive and unique festive decorations.

“What is different is that nowadays, the customer experience aspect is becoming a focal point. It has become more important as malls and retailers try to attract and retain shoppers in the midst of competing options such as online shopping,” said Leong.

IMF warns Italy over plans to lower retirement age

ROME, Feb 7 — The International Monetary Fund yesterday criticised Italy's plans to lower the retirement age, saying they would cut the country's growth potential and add to an already high pension bill. In a report following its annual Article IV…

Aspen-Ikea JV invests RM2.6b in world-class metropolis in Penang

BATU KAWAN, Feb 2 — Aspen Vision City Sdn Bhd, a joint-venture (JV) company between Aspen Group Holdings Ltd and IKEA Southeast Asia, has invested more than RM2.6 billion to date in its 99.15-hectare (ha) master-planned metropolis in mainland…

HBA: Extend fund for affordable homes to wider group

PETALING JAYA: The National House Buyers Association (HBA) has urged the government to extend the reach of the RM1 billion Fund for Affordable Homes scheme to include a wider group of buyers.

HBA secretary-general Datuk Chang Kim Loong (pix), who applauded the scheme, suggested that the fund be made available for properties priced up to RM300,000 and to increase the monthly household income eligibility up to RM5,000 per month.

“Due to the rising cost of living, even the M40 find it very challenging to buy their dream homes and is in need of some form of assistance. The same conditions can be imposed or even tightened, for example limiting the scheme for only first-time house buyers and no sale for first 10 years after last loan disbursement,” he said in a statement.

Chang said the fund, launched by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), would help the lower income group in purchasing homes as this group often finds it challenging to do so, especially in coming up with the 10% down payment and qualifying for housing loans.

The fund is available for Malaysians with monthly household income of RM2,300 who want to buy houses priced RM150,000 and below. A key feature of the fund is the low interest rate, which has been capped at 3.5%, which would lower the monthly housing instalment by 23% compared with available financing options in the market.

“The lower interest rate will help to reduce the burden of the lower income segment and give them more disposable income for other urgent needs and also to have some savings for any unforeseen emergencies. BNM has claimed that this scheme can result in savings of up to 23% and this will certainly help these participants,” said Chang.

Chang also recommend that a Homeownership Education Programme be set up to raise overall financial literacy as a way to prepare low-medium income households to take on the responsibilities of owning a home.

“Foreclosures can devastate a family’s economic and social standing, leaving them poorer instead. Making sure lower income households have sufficient personal financial management skills is more than a supplementary issue. Financiers, local authorities and communities benefit from homeowners being better informed of their rights and responsibilities as homeowners and borrowers. Support for potential home buyers and owners is crucial,” he added.

He said homeownership education can be in the form of manuals to be handed out, advice and information given out by telephone, workshops or “face-to-face” counselling and these services should ideally be provided before potential buyers sign the purchase contract.

He said counselling should be provided to help households maintain their homes or to manage their finances and it is not enough to just provide homes as there are many aspects of homeownership.

“The success of any public housing programmes can be achieved by assisting the lower income group to acquire and remain homeowners. We recommend that potential buyers to be trained to take responsibility of ownership,” he added.

Sony’s introduces next-generation a6400 mirrorless camera

KUALA LUMPUR: Sony today introduced an exciting new addition to its E-mount mirrorless camera lineup – the a6400. The a6400 brings many of Sony’s most advanced technologies from their acclaimed full-frame lineup to a compact, lightweight APS-C camera. The new addition also boasts the world’s fastest autofocus (AF) acquisition of 0.02 seconds, while also introducing […]

Gold out, beers in? Lawmaker gives Bank of England money-saving tips

LONDON, Jan 22 — The Bank of England was asked to consider moving the gold bars out of its vaults so that space could be rented to a pub, during its first hearing before a parliament spending watchdog. Members of parliament's Public Accounts…