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Starhill Gallery presents arbiters of style and taste

   

Starhill Gallery announced its position as an icon for Kuala Lumpur when it introduced the luxury brands, or "Arbiters of Style and Taste", housed at the seven-storey "Gallery of Experiences". Starhill Gallery is undergoing a transformation and when opened, its seven storeys will be renamed - Feast, Indulge, Adorn, Explore, Pamper, Relish and Muse - to describe the different experiences visitors can encounter at Starhill Gallery.

Kuala Lumpur, 26 May 2005

Starhill Gallery today announced its position as an icon for Kuala Lumpur when it introduced the luxury brands, or "Arbiters of Style and Taste", housed at the seven-storey "Gallery of Experiences".

Louis Vuitton's Global Store, which covers two floors at Starhill Gallery is the only boutique in Kuala Lumpur. Other brands available include LVMH's Dior, Fendi and Celine, as well as Asprey, Garrard, Brioni, Lanvin, Canali, Mulberry, Porsche Design, Jim Thompson, Bang & Olufsen, Alessi, Ligne Roset , Anne Klein, TUMI and Eric Way.

Starhill Gallery is undergoing a transformation, with the expertise of the famed mall designers, David Rockwell Group from New York, and Interbrand, the brand manager credited for turning Selfridges into an exciting store that it is now. The seven storeys at Starhill Gallery will be renamed - Feast, Indulge, Adorn, Explore, Pamper, Relish and Muse - to describe the different experiences visitors can encounter at Starhill Gallery.

Besides being adjoined to the JW Marriott Hotel, Starhill Gallery is also now connected to The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur and the brand new The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur via a luxurious and convenient link bridge.

Text of speech by Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh:

Respectable members of The Media, Principals, Tenants of Starhill Gallery, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you once again for gathering here today for this auspicious occasion.

 

History of Bintang Walk

 

It has been six years since our acquisition of Lot 10, Starhill and JW Marriott Hotel in March 1999 and two years since our acquisition of CK Tang Department Store premise. While I was enthusiastic with the first acquisition, I realised a little too late that the retail industry in Kuala Lumpur was not the glitz it appeared to be. I found to my dismay that the only tenants that were paying rentals promptly in our premises were watch and camera retailers. It had become obvious that it was the duty free element that enabled them to thrive.

 

The other retailers that were carrying international brands like Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior were thought to be expensive and carrying items that were more than a couple of seasons behind. As a result most Malaysians shop in Singapore, Hong Kong or London for these plush items. I remember quite distinctly that presents from Kuala Lumpur’s shopping centres were what you hoped you didn’t get at Christmas. The retailing scene was altogether boring and financially moribund.

 

We also noticed that whilst Bukit Bintang Street has always been a popular retailing centre for over 100 years there were very little rejuvenation and investments in this lived in street and was fast sinking into a crime infested red light district. We quickly resolved that we must bring back the good life to this street.

 

It was with this in mind that YTL created Bintang Walk as KL's answer to Champ Elysees of Paris. We had the full support of the former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and City Hall. We completed the Bintang Walk in a mere 6 months! Millions and millions have enjoyed this walk since. It was a good case of talking the walk and walking the talk. KL-lites welcomed it and travellers loved it!

 

Our suggestion to the government to waive the high duties and taxes on branded goods paved the way for more serious and quality investments in the retail industry especially in the luxury goods category. The government responded positively and all within 4 months! The rest is now history… From a retailing backwater in 1999, Kuala Lumpur today has become an increasingly exciting shopping destination, all within 6 good years.

 

Our real opportunity to turn Starhill Gallery into an icon for KL came when the C K Tang Department Store sold their premises to us. We now own the whole shopping centre abutting our two award-winning hotels, the JW Marriott Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur. Our latest investment in The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur  has enabled us to physically connect Starhill Gallery through an equally luxurious link bridge. Now all three lavish hotels are inter-connected to Starhill Gallery at the core. It is clear we did not indulge in half measures.

 

Every great city needs an icon

 

We hired David Rockwell Group from New York, a global icon for mall designers, famed for their organic architecture in restaurants like Nobu and landmark entertainment centres like Kodak Theatre. The Starhill Gallery was their first shopping mall assignment in Asia!

 

We did not stop at that, we got one of the most successful brand managers in the world, Interbrand, to reposition Starhill. Interbrand was credited for turning dowdy Selfridges into an exciting store, which improved sales tremendously. Every great city needs an icon and Starhill Gallery, I pray, will live up to the expectations of discerning KL-lites and also well-heeled travellers from across the globe as a Gallery of Rich Experiences.

 

International retailers invest heavily in Starhill Gallery

 

As testimony to our humble vision, existing luxury brands have increased substantial reinvestments in Starhill Gallery and we are encouraged that new luxury brands have joined them to invest heavily in this very exciting mall.

 

You will be pleased to note that Starhill Gallery's 250,000 square feet of net retail space is ideal. It will have the highest concentration and thus ratio of luxury fashionable brands per square feet in the city. This ensures privacy and exclusiveness.

 

Arbiters of taste and style housed in Starhill Gallery

 

All the brands housed in Starhill Gallery are global arbiters of taste and style. Yves Saint Laurent said, “Fashions fade, style is eternal”.

 

I have recently pointed out that Starhill Gallery is indeed the Global Fine Watch Retailer with 20,000 square feet of contiguous retail space housing 70 luxurious brands, unparalleled in any shopping centre in any city in this globe.

 

What also make Starhill Gallery unique are the luxury brands that are exclusively available here. The LVMH Group of brands led by Louis Vuitton, Dior and Fendi are all exclusively housed in Starhill Gallery and are re-investing with more exciting new store designs with a wider range of merchandise. Other exclusive brands available only in Starhill include Asprey, Garrard, Brioni, Lanvin, Canali, Mulberry, Porsche Design, Jim Thompson, Bang & Olufsen, Alessi, Ligne Roset , Anne Klein, TUMI and Eric Way.

 

Eric Way, the young and exciting couture designer, dresses high profile clients like Cherie Blair, Ivana Trump, Shirley Bassey and the pink forties-inspired dress worn by Charlotte in the TV series “Sex and the City”.

 

As for Porsche Design, it will be their first store here in an ASEAN capital with a new exciting store design seen only at European cities. This is the level of confidence luxury brands have in Kuala Lumpur’s dynamic growth and of Starhill Gallery's vision in particular.

 

Other well-appointed brands that are found in KLCC are also found here in Starhill Gallery. These include Hermes, Gucci, Dunhill, Celine, Loewe, Versace, Givenchy, Salvatore Ferragamo, Kenzo, DKNY, Cole Haan, Polo Ralph Lauren, Aigner, Davidoff and Patchi. Most of these stores are reinvesting in larger premises in tune with their optimism.

 

Well-heeled travellers will also have local bespoke designers like Rizalman, Frank Lai, Beatrice Looi and Khalid of Jendela Batik to design their dresses. I understand they are immensely popular with Middle Eastern clients and also discerning KL-lites. These are our very own exciting young ambassadors of Malaysian fashion inspired by the success of internationally acclaimed Jimmy Choo and Zang Toi.

 

Confidence in Malaysian retail scene

 

In conclusion I must thank the government of Malaysia for their foresight and support in making Kuala Lumpur a competitive and exciting destination for shoppers. We, in YTL, have expressed our faith by investing more than 250 million ringgit in the Bintang Walk precinct and I am also gratified to note that all the global, regional and local retailers have also followed us and invested heavily in Starhill Gallery, they too have voted with their purse. This portends well for Kuala Lumpur as a retail destination. While all of this is very impressive, what fascinates me most is the fact that I know this is only the very beginning of an exciting lifestyle revolution, and Kuala Lumpur will be better for it!

 

Thank you very much and God bless all of you.

Speech delivered by Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh
Managing Director, YTL Corporation Berhad
at the Press Conference @ Starhill Gallery
on May 26, 2005
at Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur

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