Sunday, November 15, 2009

Central prepares for return of tourists

Central Retail Corporation will continue a store facelift for its Central Festival Phuket shopping complex next year to prepare for a tourism recovery and a return of foreign tourists to the island. A presenter in a colourful octopus costume promotes the Central Festival Phuket facelift, for which CRC has allocated 100 million baht.

The plan reflects improving sentiment in Phuket's tourism business. Direct and connecting flights to the island have edged up, particularly from China and Germany. The company plans to invest in internal design and a merchandising mix that matches customer demand, said Thanapon Tangkananan, CRC's vice-president for business development. From 30 to 40 tenants are waiting to open shops at Central Festival Phuket.

CRC has also allocated 100 million baht to renovating the complex and its surroundings. It has built a pedestrian bridge, linking the project with HomeWorks, and added a convention hall to serve government agencies planning exhibitions and fairs on the island.

The company is developing an education zone on the second floor of the mall, replacing HomeWorks DIY. Areas for children's clothes and for gift shops will be built on the fourth floor. Tops Market has also been upgraded to Central Food Hall. These changes should encourage shoppers to visit more often and stay longer than two hours per visit.

Central Festival Phuket has seen a 3-4% growth in traffic with about 4 million shopper visits to the complex in the first nine months of this year. Average spending remains about 1,000 to 3,000 baht per bill.

Mr Thanapon, also president of the Thai Retailers Association, expects the overall retail industry to grow by 4-5% this year, mainly driven by the setting up of new retail stores. Growth is expected to top 5% next year, spurred by the government's economic stimulus packages such as Thai Khem Kaeng, and investment in megaprojects such as railways.

Meanwhile, Central Pattana Plc, the developer of Central shopping complexes, is to spend more than 150 million baht to launch the "CentralPlaza Gift Wonderland 2010" and "The World of Happiness @ CentralWorld" campaigns to fuel year-end spending.

More than 200 events will be organised at all Central Plaza shopping complexes. The campaigns are aimed at boosting sales during the festive season.

Nattakit Tangpoonsinthana, CPN's executive vice-president for marketing, said the company is confident that its overall revenue growth this year will be at least 25%. The company also hopes to attract 20% more customers and to increase sales at its shopping complexes during the festive season by 15-20%.
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