Where Ikea and Ikano Show, Others Tagged Along in Tow

FITTING MATCH

Where Ikea-Ikano Show, Others Tagged Along in Tow

Ikano Centres' Thomas Malmberg shares with Ibrahim Sani the secret behind the perfect compatibility furniture retailer IKEA seems to have engendered with partner shopping mall Ikano - which it sets to replicate elsewhere.

“IKEA Damansara is consistently in the top ten of the world’s four hundred IKEAs” says Thomas Malmberg, Shopping Centre Director of Ikano Centres, part of IKEA Southeast Asia.

“Sometimes it drops from the top ten, but most of the time, it is right up there with our best shopping malls in the world. And with our new IKEA Cheras, it is rising fast and quickly becoming a top ten contender too”.

With an opening statement like that, what is it that works with IKEA, that other retailers do not seem to have, as most malls contend with lower footfalls due to an overall subdued retail performance in Malaysia?

Sometimes it drops from the top ten, but most of the time, it is right up there with our best shopping malls in the world. And with our new IKEA Cheras, it is rising fast and quickly becoming a top ten contender too

“What we do, at Ikano and at IKEA, is not just to sell things and hoping people would buy it. What we want to offer is an experience for our customers, so that they come to Ikano to enjoy a good time while they are there."

Ikano Power Centre Shopping Centre (IPC), Mutiara Damansara is one of two IKEA-anchored shopping centres in Malaysia. The other one is MyTown Shopping Centre, Cheras.

IPC falls under the Ikano Group of companies, owned by the Kamprad family of Sweden, which founded IKEA.

"Our anchor tenants do things well in this regard. For instance, Ben's Independent Grocer offers people the opportunity to dine and have a drink or two, while doing grocery shopping. Another example is electricals and electronics retailer Harvey Norman, offers that similar experience that customers can enjoy. You can spend a whole day there just experiencing new things,” he says.

IKEA is expanding its footing in Southeast Asia, among its latest outlets is in Tebrau, Johor and the setting up of Toppen Shopping Centre right next to it.

“We have two stores in Bangkok, two in Kuala Lumpur, soon we will have one in Penang, and of course, the latest store catering our customers would be in Tebrau,” says Malmberg.

Similar to the MyTown and IPC integrated-mall concept, the 1.1 million square feet Toppen will be anchored by IKEA - the largest store in the region.

Toppen is on schedule to open by the third quarter of next year. It will house 300 tenants, including majors like Ben’s Independent Grocer,  Harvey Norman and TGV Cinemas.

“TOPPEN will continue our work in bringing exciting offerings to our customers in the same way we have done in other areas in the region and the world” he explains. IKEA was once quoted saying that its presence normally contributes an additional 20 percent of footfall to its shopping centres.

Malmberg adds that IKEA, unlike any other mall, brings tangible benefits for any municipality having the Swedish giant furniture store in their backyard.

“In one way, we have the ‘IKEA’ factor. A big center, we typically have maybe 5,000 workers. This encourages employment considerably. There’s also the knock-on effect of spending, buying, and others taking place in this economic ecosystem,” explains Malmberg.

Following the 14th General Elections, Malmberg says IKEA will keep a close eye on policy changes in Malaysia.

“I don’t want to get into the politics of things. But what I dare comment is that we at Ikano and IKEA will be to monitor consumer confidence and economic factors.”

“Taxation is also an important element we are observing as well. But when it comes to shopping centres, it is our tenants that would focus on this more than we do, because as shopping centres we do not have the retail element on taxation in the same way our retail tenants do” he says.

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