Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tampines 1 Will Make It Three

Source : The Sunday Times, March 8, 2009

Residents eagerly await new mall's opening, but tenants in the other two are wary of the competition

If you are a Tampines resident clamouring for 'mall, mall, mall' so as to enjoy greater shopping choices, you must be eagerly counting down the days to early next month.

That is when the $450 million Tampines 1 will open, with more than 170 tenants touting new brands and concepts.

It will join two other malls, Tampines Mall and Century Square, sited close to the Tampines MRT station.

In Singapore where one complaint is that too many malls pack in the same tenants, Tampines 1 is being pitched as the mall 'for the trendy shopper seeking all things new'.

That is the battle cry from Ms Stephanie Ho, general manager of AsiaMalls Management, which owns and manages the six-storey mall.

She cites international brand names such as Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo opening its first outlet here and Esprit setting up its flagship suburban store.

Other first-time fashion labels here include local brand Click! and French apparel brand Cache Cache.

And in a nod to the great Singapore pastime of eating, there is also Manpuku, a 13,000 sq ft space that will offer food in a Japanese street setting.

Tampines has a population of more than 200,000 residents living in 52,000 HDB flats.

Many of them are excited about the new mall. Said Mr Cruz Ely, 51, an accountant: 'There are not many shopping choices to choose from in the east. Now, with Tampines 1, we do not have to travel all the way to Orchard.'

For Ms Iris Ng, 29, an operations assistant, shopping in comfort is most important. 'The crowd is so big in the two existing Tampines malls that I avoid the area on weekends and public holidays. Tampines 1 will help spread out the crowd.'

The Sunday Times conducted a poll of 50 people and 86 per cent feel there is enough business to support all three malls.

Said Ms Amarit Kaur, 22, a student at the Singapore Institute of Management: 'Tampines can support three malls easily. Many students from Bedok or Paya Lebar are already flocking there to shop.'

Tampines Mall, managed by CapitaLand, attracts about 25 million shoppers a year. Century Square, which is also managed by AsiaMalls, drew 15.6 million shoppers last year.

While most are excited about the new entrant, more than half in the poll also said they still see themselves going most often to Tampines Mall as it offers most of the things they need.

As student Alicia Tan, 17, said: 'It has many shops that I like and I'm very used to the place.'

Tenants in Tampines Mall and Century Square are understandably wary about the new kid on the shopping block.

Ms Ang Chon Moy, 50, salesman at Cerisi, which sells children's apparel in Tampines Mall, said: 'We're scared of losing customers. People are naturally excited about new things. I'm sure the crowd here will be smaller when Tampines 1 comes up.'

Ms June Lee, 40, of Yellow Shop which sells bags, is worried too. 'It's already very quiet in Century Square. We're having sales promotions but they're meant to deal with the economic downturn, not the arrival of Tampines 1,' she said.

AsiaMalls' management said it will make sure the shops at Tampines 1 and Century Square are complementary.

For example, Century Square has family-oriented tenants such as department store BHG, an entire floor of home-furnishings stores and a cineplex.

Referring to the competition, a CapitaLand spokesman said: 'Tampines Mall has established brands, such as Isetan, NTUC FairPrice, McDonald's, Toys 'R' Us, Yamaha Music School and Golden Village, that cater to residents and office workers in the Tampines Regional Centre.'

'The new mall is expected to draw more crowds, further adding to the buzz in the area,' she added.

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