The Mall changes with the times

A se­ries of makeovers at ex­ist­ing branches is set to re­fresh the group’s im­age, writes Pitsi­nee Jit­pleecheep

Bangkok Post - - BUSINESS -

With tech­nol­ogy chang­ing con­sumer life­styles and e-com­merce dis­rupt­ing the tra­di­tional re­tail busi­ness, The Mall Group, one of the coun­try’s lead­ing depart­ment store chains, is try­ing to keep the lights on with Achara Umpujh, the Umpujh fam­ily’s fifth daugh­ter and se­nior ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of the group, vol­un­teer­ing to write a new chap­ter.

The com­pany plans to spend 16-17 bil­lion baht ini­tially to make over all ex­ist­ing branches of The Mall shop­ping com­plexes in Bangkok, aim­ing for a new look to over­take an im­age that has been 35 years in the mak­ing.

“We are con­fi­dent that the new look at ex­ist­ing The Mall branches will pave the way for a new chap­ter in Thai­land’s re­tail land­scape, as store de­sign, shop­ping am­bi­ence, and prod­uct and ser­vice of­fer­ings shift from the old days to be­com­ing more cool and chic,” Mrs Achara says.

Of the to­tal 16-17 bil­lion baht, 3.5 bil­lion baht will be used for a facelift of The Mall Ngam Wong Wan in Au­gust this year, as the leas­ing con­tract agree­ment with ten­ants will end soon.

To freshen the im­age of the Ngam Wong Wan branch, Mrs Achara and her team have brain­stormed ideas and talked with young peo­ple aged 20 and lower for in­spi­ra­tion.

At the same time, she has up­dated her travel des­ti­na­tions to find in­spi­ra­tion for dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing trends.

“I pre­fer to go any­where with not too many peo­ple, in­stead of crowded places, even go­ing to the for­est or the moun­tains to clear out all the in­for­ma­tion we ab­sorb in our minds,” Mrs Achara says. “Re­set­ting the mind for cre­at­ing new things un­der The Mall’s new store model means each floor will have a clear char­ac­ter.”

The com­pany ex­pects to com­plete its ren­o­va­tion of The Mall Ngam Wong Wan within two years.

“Con­ve­nience will come first, along with store-shar­ing, be­cause it is the pri­mary need for peo­ple who em­brace dig­i­tal life­styles,” Mrs Achara says.

Apart from the Ngam Wong Wan branch, the com­pany will spend 6 bil­lion baht to re­build The Mall Ramkhamhaeng branch to be­come a new con­cept store.

The group is cur­rently in the process of de­mol­ish­ing The Mall Ramkhamhaeng and ex­pects to start build­ing the new store next month, which will take about 2½ years to com­plete.

The shop­ping at­mos­phere at The Mall Ramkhamhaeng will be more re­lax­ing, Mrs Achara says, let­ting cus­tomers en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence in an af­ford­able fash­ion. The shop de­signs will in­tro­duce new styles, but with­out con­fus­ing long-time cus­tomers.

Mrs Achara says she en­vi­sions The Mall Ramkhamhaeng as a cross­roads to re­vive shop­ping in the area.

“Ramkhamhaeng nowa­days is the sec­ond Sukhumvit,” she says. “There are many con­do­minium de­vel­op­ments in the area, and the MRT sta­tion is in front of our build­ings. The MRT will draw shop­pers to our com­plex, but at the same time it could pull shop­pers to other places if our com­plex doesn’t have any­thing to set it apart.”

Af­ter re­build­ing the Ramkhamhaeng branch, the com­pany hopes it will be­come the nu­cleus of a pop­u­lar shop­ping district, as char­ac­terised by Siam Paragon, The Em­po­rium and EmQuartier on Sukhumvit Road.

Af­ter The Mall Ramkhamhaeng, the re­main­ing 10-11 bil­lion baht will go to­wards a ma­jor facelift of The Mall branches in Tha Phra, Bang Khae and Bang Kapi.

“The facelift of the three branches will be done in par­al­lel and is ex­pected to be com­pleted within the next five years,” Mrs Achara says.

While she han­dles the de­vel­op­ment of ex­ist­ing The Mall branches, her el­der sis­ter, Su­paluck Umpujh, the group’s chair­woman, will look af­ter the de­vel­op­ment of new re­tail projects.

Ms Su­paluck will start to de­velop the EmSphere re­tail project near The Em­po­rium shop­ping com­plex this year af­ter two years of de­lay.

Mrs Achara joined The Mall in her twen­ties with a fo­cus on mer­chan­dise.

“Fash­ion is not our out­stand­ing sell­ing point. Our branches are in the sub­urbs, so we fo­cus on nec­es­sary goods and food first,” she says.

The su­per­mar­kets took over a decade to de­velop, as ex­em­pli­fied by the trans­for- ma­tion of Home Fresh Mart into Gourmet Mar­ket.

“With the in­ter­na­tional im­age of gourmet and the prod­uct va­ri­ety of street food, we got a good re­sponse from cus­tomers and sales no­tably in­creased,” Mrs Achara says, adding that the com­pany will fo­cus on or­ganic prod­ucts this year to re­spond to in­creas­ing health con­cerns among the pub­lic.

Af­ter com­plet­ing its re­model of ex­ist­ing stores, the com­pany will up­date other busi­ness units such as Sports Mall, Power Mall and Be Trend to make them more mod­ern, as well as fully em­brace e-com­merce in the fu­ture.

While the com­pany is de­vel­op­ing prod­ucts to re­spond to changes in cus­tomer life­styles, a new, young man­age­ment team will be an­nounced soon.

Fash­ion is not our out­stand­ing sell­ing point, so we fo­cus on nec­es­sary goods and food first.

ACHARA UMPUJH Se­nior ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent, The Mall Group


Mrs Achara says The Mall’s Gourmet Mar­ket will fo­cus on or­ganic prod­ucts this year to re­spond to in­creas­ing health con­cerns among the pub­lic.

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