2005 Jul/Aug Issue
Cover Story
CentralWorld – A premier shopping paradise in the making
Retail destination India – Big draw for global players
Matahari Department Store pursues new growth opportunities
A tour de force of the region’s Top 500 retailers ranking
Mega 10-in-1 event woos global food-industry players

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Cover Story
CentralWorld –
A premier shopping paradise in the making


Central Pattana PLC, Thailand’s No.1 retail property developer, has embarked on its largest, most ambitious project to date — the redevelopment of Bangkok’s World Trade Center into “Asia’s premier shopping paradise”. RETAIL ASIA has details on the integrated, multi-use property which has been renamed CentralWorld.

Taking centrestage in the heart of Bangkok’s commercial and retail hub is CentralWorld, a spectacular development that is set to change the face of retailing in the city, and possibly even the region. That is the ultimate goal of developer and owner Central Pattana PLC (CPN), a member of the Central Group.

Occupying 64 rais (approximately 10.9ha), the CentralWorld development is by far the largest commercial property in Thailand and CPN is sparing no efforts in transforming the former World Trade Center into a multifaceted and integrated complex.

CPN’s masterplan to develop CentralWorld into a truly world-class shopping destination costs a sizeable 26 billion baht (US$650 million).

Says Kobchai Chirathivat, president and CEO of Central Pattana PLC, who is spearheading this ambitious project: “CentralWorld will be our flagship shopping, office, entertainment and hotel complex. It is our largest investment and most extensive development to date. Based on the strong track record of CPN over the past 24 years, we are confident of the success of this project, which will signal the beginning of a new chapter in Thailand’s evolving retail industry.”

The project had its beginnings in December 2002, when CPN made a successful bid to purchase the stalled project — a grim reminder of the 1997 Asian economic crisis — from the Crown Property Bureau. The development at that time consisted of a shopping centre and a partially built office tower.

In an article in Far Eastern Economic Review (19 June 2003), Kobchai outlined the company’s plans to revitalise the project. He envisioned a CentralWorld shopping experience to “shopping in New York City — like Fifth Avenue, you will be able to find all kinds of products in a sophisticated store ambience”.

That, indeed, remains the CEO’s vision — to bring the world’s most indemand, trendiest products to Bangkok. Hence, CentralWorld’s tagline, “the landmark of the world”.

The existing World Trade Center development stands at 200,000sqm. The transformed project will encompass 800,000sqm of space, with the retail segment occupying 540,000sqm. “There is expansion in every direction,” says Kobchai. “We are trying to maximise [the leverage of] the location.”

Meanwhile, it is business as usual at the existing shopping centre while construction is in progress and CPN is ensuring that there is minimum disruption to its retail tenants and shoppers.

Currently, 75% of CentralWorld’s retail space has been leased to local and international retailers. As for the retail space that is being created, CPN aims to reserve this for international brands and lifestyle restaurants that “have never existed in Thailand”.

Multiple retail anchors

Multiple anchors
CentralWorld is a mixed-use complex which offers a staggering 800,000sqm of space, of which 540,000sqm is for retailing. The shopping-centre component is set to shine with a host of anchor tenants. They include:
Zen - department store (42,500sqm)
Isetan - department store (27,000sqm)
PowerBuy - speciality electronics retailer (5,800sqm)
B2S - books and stationery speciality store (5,400sqm)
Supersports - sporting goods store (5,400sqm)
World Market - Central Food Hall (5,000sqm)
SFX Cinema City (15,000sqm)
Major Cineplex (10,000sqm)
ICT - National ICT Learning Center - and TK Park - Thai Knowledge Park (4,000sqm)
King Power - duty-free retailer - and Eastern Spirit - Asia art & craft zone (5,600sqm)
Toys ‘R’ Us/Kids Zone (4,600sqm)
Fitness Centre (4,000sqm)
Jewelry Zone - watches & jewellery (4,500sqm)
Luxury Lane - world-class boutiques (10,700sqm)
Financial Center - banking hall - and Tourist Center (1,500sqm)

When the project is completed, the shopping-centre component will have the biggest entourage of retail anchors ever seen in the region, and supported by hundreds of exciting retail as well as innovative food and restaurant and entertainment concepts.

“With our strong leadership in the development and management of real estate in the past 24 years, we have forged cooperation with 11 business anchors. The major ones are Zen, a lifestyle department store, Power Buy (electronics retailer), Supersports (sporting goods store), B2S (books and stationery speciality store) and Tops (supermarket). They are subsidiaries of Central Retail Corporation, the No.1 retailer in Thailand and the largest in South-east Asia with multi-brands and multi-formats.

“Other anchors include SFX Cinema City, Major Cineplex, King Power (duty free), TK Park (Thai Knowledge Park), ICT (National ICT learning centre) and Isetan Department Store (Japanese department store).

“These anchors will establish CentralWorld as Asia’s premier shopping paradise in the country’s main shopping street,” says Kobchai.

The five-star hotel in CentralWorld will offer 550 rooms and suites while the Convention Center, which will occupy 17,000sqm of state-of-the-art meeting space, will have the largest conference centre in the heart of Bangkok’s business and commercial district.

Completing the integrated development is The Offices at CentralWorld, a 45-storey luxurious, intelligent office tower offering 80,000sqm of premium working space. This commercial development, which has an 80% occupancy rate, ensures a daily traffic of more than 8,000 shoppers who are most likely to shop, eat and entertain in CentralWorld.

Since CPN took over development, all eyes have been on CentralWorld. The company held a special launch event on May 24 to unveil details of the new CentralWorld, which will open in June 2006, with 85% of the project. The remaining 15% will be opened in February 2007.

A new landmark

CPN has big plans to promote its new flagship development. “We have allocated 200 million baht for A&P campaigns in the domestic and international markets,” Kobchai confirms.

“Our A&P plan, which will run from this year to 2007, is expected to help establish CentralWorld as a new landmark of the world and promote it as Asia’s premier shopping paradise. We are confident that this new ‘landmark of the world’ will attract more than 30 million local and international visitors annually.”

Kicking off the promotion is CPN’s sponsorship of the recent Miss Universe 2005 pageant in Thailand. “To celebrate the CentralWorld ... a new Landmark of the World’ grand opening launch, CPN was one of the sponsors of the Miss Universe 2005 pageant. We organised a special event, dubbed ‘Experience the New World with all the Senses’, on May 24,” says Kobchai.

Each Miss Universe contestant came in an outfit to represent different cultures and customers from all over the world.

“We are confident that the grand launch opening event would help build CentralWorld brand awareness among local and international tourists. At the same time, it would introduce the extravaganza of CentralWorld to prospective local and foreign tenants which in turn would lead CPN to expand its business to other countries in time to come,” says Kobchai.

Widest street frontage

When CentralWorld opens next June, it will have the widest street frontage ever seen in Bangkok — 665m each at the entrances facing Ratchaprasong intersection in the heart of Bangkok.

  The glass facade is described as “liquid diamond”. A clear-glass skin that cuts out daytime glare while offering window shoppers an uninterrupted view of the store. In the night time, the glass facade transforms the window into “a world lit by glamour and fashion”.

“To be ‘Asia's Premier Shopping Paradise', attracting both local and international visitors, CentralWorld will feature the very best fashion brands, exquisite home decor and an eastern arts and crafts centre as well as hip and stylish lifestyle restaurants and entertainment choices,” says Kobchai.

Twin fashion anchors

Anchoring CentralWorld’s fashion scene will be “two giants of retail culture” — Isetan of Japan and Zen, Central Department Store’s lifestyle department store that offers “creative, lifestyle choices for the more funky and off-beat individual”.

Says Kobchai: “We aim to establish CentralWorld as a fashion landmark, with flagship stores from our leading retail-brand partners. Their synergies combine to create a shopping experience without equal.”

The children will also be delighted with Kid’s Zone — a ‘playground for the mind’, designed by Sanrio of Japan, known worldwide for its hugely successful Hello Kitty and other cartoon characters and its creative merchandise for children.

Toys ‘R’ Us will also make its debut in Thailand with a 2,200sqm store located in the Kids Zone.

The dining component will feature a wide variety of F&B outlets, ranging from world-class gourmet restaurants to casual eateries, snack bars, juice bars, cafes and fast-food outlets.

The entertainment component in CentralWorld is already the talk of the town. This is fronted by one of the largest cineplexes in the city, a 17-screen megaplex managed by SFX Cinema City and Major Cineplex, which offers plush venue to host not only movie premieres but also events such as concerts and plays.

Right location

Nothing is more important than being in the right location and CentralWorld has one of the best locations in the city; it is situated in the heart of Bangkok’s most dynamic shopping street and prime central business district.

Located at the crossroads of the city’s great commerce arteries of Sukhumvit, Rajdamri and New Petchburi, CentralWorld is in the best position to serve the thousands of urban, upwardly mobile consumers who work in the area and residents living in affluent neighbourhoods in the vicinity.

The mall is surrounded by several five-star hotels, including Inter-Continental, Grand Hyatt Erawan, Four Seasons, Nai Lert Park (a Raffles International Hotel), Plaza Althenee, Conrad and Holiday Inn Bangkok, providing a constant stream of well-heeled customers from all parts of the world.

Shopping is one of the most popular activities for tourists to Bangkok. “Many tourists are familiar with the Central name as many of them have shopped in our shopping centres. As CentralWorld is located in a shopping street surrounded by five- and six-star hotels, we expect to attract a high percentage of tourists,” says Kobchai.

“We are confident that CentralWorld, because of its strategic location in the heart of the city, will be able to attract not only the 15 million Thai consumers but also the over 14 million tourists visiting Bangkok annually,” he adds.

Another advantage that the complex will have is its “superior accessibility”. CPN has constructed “an elegant promenade above the streets”, a Skywalk that links the second and third levels of the development to BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System), at a cost of 250 million baht. More than 400,000 commuters pass through the Siam and Chidlom BTS stations each day.

To support the mega development, there is a six-lane ring road and a car park that can accommodate up to 7,500 cars and over 40 buses.

Creating shopper buzz

The complex will vibrate with year-round activities, says Kobchai. Popular events to be staged at the CentralWorld Square such as the New Year Countdown and the annual Oktoberfest beer festival and new events such as the Elle Bangkok Fashion Week, which will be launched this November, will help to generate a buzz in the complex.

The Square is a manicured garden filled with plants and trees to provide welcome shade during the day and a cool place to chill out in the evenings. A huge LED screen will enable real-time broadcast of national and international events — a sure crowd puller.

Industry analysts believe that a successful turnaround of CentralWorld will promote Bangkok as the shopping capital of South-east Asia. And when Kobchai’s vision becomes a reality, CentralWorld will take its place as one of the great shopping centres in the region, come June 2006.

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