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Sneak peek of ‘new’ Starhill

   
Yeoh introducing the plans for the new Starhill.

Kuala Lumpur, 5 October 2004

YTL today announced plans for a brand new experience at the Starhill Shopping Centre, which will bring Malaysia another step closer to establishing itself and Kuala Lumpur city as the retail icon of Asia.

YTL Corporation Managing Director Tan Sri Dato’ (Dr.) Francis Yeoh gave guests a glimpse of the ongoing plans in a preview of what to expect of the new Starhill when it is unveiled to the public in March next year.

“Even as I speak, renovation work is still going on upstairs,” quipped Yeoh as he spoke at length about making Starhill, Kuala Lumpur city and Malaysia as a whole a shopping destination.

Starhill Shopping Centre offers a total retail area of 200,000 sq. ft., with another 150,000 sq. ft. added to that after YTL acquired the space of CK Tang Department Store last year.

With the expertise of iconic designer David Rockwell of New York, by March 2005, Starhill will offer a whole new shopping environment with five themed floors that encapsulate different experiences for each different floor – Feast, Indulge, Explore, Pamper and Muse.

After a preview of a video presentation, Yeoh led guests to the link bridge on the Ground Floor of Starhill. As part of its initiatives to continue complementing the Bintang Walk development, YTL has built a connecting walkway, aptly named “Skybridge Walk of Fame”, to link Starhill to The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur and The Ritz-Carlton Residences.

“We have spent the RM150 million that we promised to spend for this area,” Yeoh told the press later. “And that does not include the RM77 million for the space that we bought from CK Tang last year,” he added.

Giving credit to tenants including the LVMH Malaysia group, the Richmonde group and the watch galleries led by Dato’ Francis Sew, Yeoh said the tenants of Starhill have been a major driving force in giving their support to the shopping centre. Yeoh added that all the tenants at Starhill have also agreed to a profit sharing concept in response to a lower base rent, thus making YTL a partner and not just landlord to these tenants.

The evening ended on a high note with a cocktail reception at the Carlton Conference Centre where guests were treated to performances by singers Izlyn Ramli and Shahrizan Borhan as well as a theatre act by Stars by Write.


   
Guests enjoy a stroll on the 'Skybridge Walk of Fame'.

Text of speech by Tan Sri Dato’ (Dr.) Francis Yeoh

I bid you all a very warm welcome to today’s event – a sneak preview to what will one day take Kuala Lumpur by surprise, and hopefully take the world by storm. The introduction of the new Starhill.

The retail industry is definitely one of the most exciting, fascinating and dynamic. This industry’s ability to generate profits is awesome. In Malaysia, the potential is also there for the retailers. Our country’s sound economic policies and strategic geographic location have ensured that retailers continue to excel in one of the fastest moving and most competitive environments anywhere in the world. The present government’s policy of promoting Kuala Lumpur as a shopping haven is much appreciated. I can speak with some conviction that this initiative is just the tip of an iceberg.

Last year, the retail sector in Malaysia contributed 1.3% of the nation’s GDP and employed 7% of the total workforce. Its relationships with other industries like product and service marketing, advertising, wholesaling and logistics give it a pivotal role to play in sustaining the nation’s economy.

For example, total retail sales in Malaysia are expected to reach nearly RM54.7 billion in 2005, and expand even further to top RM67.4 billion in 2008. This translates to an impressive compounded annual growth rate of between 6.5% and 7.4%. We are still scraping the tip of an iceberg.

A combination of strong business acumen, keen consumer insights and a knack for the extraordinary is what makes any retail institution successful, and it is a constant challenge to keep ahead of the times, providing customers with what they need before they’ve realised they want it.

And we at YTL pride ourselves on our ability to respond to these challenges. We took a quaint, busy traditional business district and turned it into a glitzy, upmarket golden triangle of thriving top notch businesses – making it a microcosm of what makes Kuala Lumpur tick.

The creation of Bintang Walk, which is now 3 years old, is now internationally recognised as an icon for the city. It has brought life back into this 100-year-old historical retail street as expected. The reinvestment then of renowned global fashion retailers like the LV group and others would not have happened if our initiative of abolishing duties for branded goods was not heeded by the government.


   
Yeoh gives details on The Ritz-Carlton Residences.

We also capitalised on the synergies that existed between the JW Marriott and Starhill by removing the barriers between the two, offering an integrated and seamless shopping experience for our local and international travellers and shoppers alike. Hotel guests can access the shopping centre just next door, and shoppers can enjoy a 5-star deluxe experience a quick step away. The service levels we have inculcated also ensure that from the moment a customer steps onto the premises of either facility, they are attended to on a personal level and not treated as bar codes or credit cards.

Today, we have added into this family of successes, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, the only one of its kind in Asia. This new landmark of residential luxury allows those who seek an exclusive lifestyle to call The Ritz-Carlton home. These ultra-lavish serviced residences will be the yardstick by which other exclusive properties are measured, providing exceptional service and an equally outstanding standard of living.

And we didn’t stop there. Not only did we create all these amazing facilities, we went one step further and connected them as well. Earlier in July this year, we completed the sky bridge that connects Starhill with The Ritz-Carlton and The Ritz-Carlton Residences; it is easily the most luxurious sky bridge in Kuala Lumpur. All of our promise to invest RM150 million in this precinct has come to pass.

We have recognised the fact that our investment in opulent living quarters, 5-star deluxe hotels along a classy stretch of alfresco cafés, dining establishments and first-class shopping have made our country proud. But we realise one thing – the only way we can continue to ride on and lead this success story is to constantly re-innovate and reengineer. As a shopping centre that wants to have staying power and strong international visibility, there is a need to stamp a mark in the local retail industry as an icon and a trendsetter. To do that, there has to be change. And I stand before you here today to announce this exciting change, and to tell you Starhill is going lead it.

Our plans for Starhill are very simple. We’re giving it a new personality. We’re labelling it as a landmark of taste and style, as Kuala Lumpur’s ultimate statement in fashion, art, beauty, food and living. The tenants will double up as arbiters of style, all exclusive to Starhill – making it a definite stop over for anyone on the Asian shopping trail. We have spared no expense to achieve this and commissioned one of the greatest contemporary icons of mall design David Rockwell of New York. KL will benefit from this new exciting destination. In a similar vein, we have hired Interbrand, one of the most effective brand consultants today to reposition Starhill. Most would agree they successfully turned the image of Selfridges in London from dowdy to exciting. Today, world-renowned and award winning media consultant, Leo Burnett is micro managing the roll out of this very exciting project. The global intellectual capital from these outfits will complement the passion of the owners and the staff to deliver a level of service I hope the world will applaud. We have succeeded in making Pangkor Laut the best resort in the world, measured in terms of service and experience. The new Starhill, I pray, will also achieve similar accolades from local and global customers.

The new Starhill will equate to changing the whole retail experience in Malaysia, making it one to be savoured and looked forward to. Selfridges, for example, has remained London’s premier retail outlet after some huge renovation and re-branding and through constant innovation and evolution. It has not only adapted to the changing trends throughout the years, but has also been at the forefront of them, threatening Harrods’ traditional position.

Yet, the fundamental ethic of selling quality merchandise and giving customers an unrivalled shopping experience has never been questioned or compromised. Taking inspiration from that vision, YTL has had to be innovators - viewing the new Starhill as nothing less than a gallery of experiences. We hope it will soon become an icon as much as Bintang Walk now is.

We recognise that by making this change, here and now, we will be giving shopping in Malaysia a distinctive identity. It will one day have a reputation that precedes it as the definitive shopping experience. And in that way, we will slowly be able to make Malaysia a retail destination of choice. We are well on the way, as tourist arrivals in Malaysia are on a sharp upward curve. And once they arrive, shopping is the second largest expenditure they incur – Middle Eastern and Indian tourists for example typically spend between RM2,000 and RM4,000 per person, per trip at this stage. The Chinese shoppers with their increasing economic muscle are already sustaining retailers in Hong Kong and Shanghai, they too will be shopping in Kuala Lumpur soon.

Little introduction is needed for our beautiful clear watered islands, our modern hi-tech racetrack, and our rich multicultural heritage. In fact, all these elements are in itself iconic in the presence they command. What we aim to do is draft Starhill into this exclusive genre, and in totality present to the world a truly irresistible tourism offering that is truly unique. What Selfridges and Harrods has done to London, Starhill will hopefully do to Kuala Lumpur.

This is something we see happening, and very soon. Come March 2005, a whole new experience will be born, and we are thrilled to have you greet its birth. Thank you and God bless all of you.

Text of speech by
Tan Sri Dato' (Dr) Francis Yeoh
Managing Director, YTL Corporation Berhad
at the Media Briefing – The New Starhill
at Shook!, Starhill Centre, Kuala Lumpur
on 5 October 2004



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