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Glowing all the way from Japan

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The main component of any retail center must surely be the tenants themselves but to attract big and reputable tenants, it may require a bit of an understanding about the retailers and their point of views. Managing Director of Japanese fashion store Uniqlo (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd Satoshi Onoguchi shares some insights on some of the factors that led to the opening of the first ever Uniqlo store in Malaysia at Fahrenheit 88.

Being new and unfamiliar with the Malaysian market, venturing retailers coming into the country for the first time will always want to set up in a popular commercial area like Bukit Bintang. No different is this store from Japan and in this case, timing and location were Uniqlo’s main draws.

The opening of Fahrenheit 88 in Bukit Bintang, the heart of retail in Kuala Lumpur, was exactly what the retailer had in mind for their initial foray here. It took the opportunity of launching Uniqlo Malaysia ahead of schedule, just one year after the opening of the first Singapore store. In its original blueprint, the Malaysian store is to be unveiled three years after the opening of Uniqlo Singapore.

Presence is another factor that retailers keep close to their hearts when considering for a potential location. “Other than being an anchor tenant, Fahrenheit 88 gave us the opportunity to have a unique shop front where people would clearly notice us, we wanted to be part of the mall and not just be in it,” Onoguchi tells. Going hand in hand, good floor planning and design prior to development were key factors as it gives tenants the confidence to take up the space when offered to them.

Before settling in at Fahrenheit 88, Uniqlo was in the market scouting for a unit big enough to support their collection of more than 500 items ranging from women’s leggings to men’s jeans to represent their ambitious brand. Its prerequisite: a space anywhere between 18,000 sq ft and 20,000 sq ft. Today, upon its launch, Uniqlo Malaysia stands proudly along the Bukit Bintang shopping belt with a space of 23,034 sq ft, more than it had originally desired.

And finally, the people factor comes into play – retailers want to be welcomed in a new setting where there exists an understanding between the mall owners, who know what the retailer’s targets are, and how they can both live in a symbiotic relationship for a mutual benefit.

“We’ve had a good relationship with Pavilion (Group) since the opening of the store in Singapore, which led to Malaysia’s first Uniqlo store in Fahrenheit 88,” says Onoguchi.

Suffice to say, growing a warm and healthy relationship is a way to welcome future tenants and create an assurance for the retailers. And if the air is clear between them, the air in the store will be no less, season after season.