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Full text of speech by Tan Sri (Dr.) Francis Yeoh at Basel Watch Fair

   

Basel, Switzerland, March 31, 2006

Good evening, distinguished guests, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to thank Mr Rolando Braga, CEO of Armand Nicolet, for his invitation to produce a Limited Edition watch, incorporating Malaysia’s newest prestige shopping icon, Starhill Gallery, into his magnificent portfolio of timepiece creations, dating back to 1902.

 

This collaboration was suggested by our tenants Luxury Concepts, Frank and Charmaine Low, who could see a unique opportunity for both organisations. As a result of this, Armand Nicolet has produced 15 Starhill Limited Edition watches, taking the UT176 Movement of 1948 and completely revising the core, with a manual winding movement, a small second hand with 21 rubies, embellished with blue screws and a swan neck – a real gem.

 

For the Starhill Limited Edition, a black face has been chosen instead of the original white. The 15 units of the Starhill and Armand Nicolet Limited Edition watches, can only be purchased in Kuala Lumpur, at their world’s first free standing boutique.

 

Starhill Gallery is part of the YTL Corporation group. The combined market capitalisation of six listed companies is about US$6 billion. We have business operations in three continents. At present, YTL Group has a customer base of 10 million and the base is growing rapidly.

 

Our business philosophy is about delivering positive experiences at very competitive prices, a similar philosophy, I understand to be that of Armand Nicolet.

 

YTL decided to move into the retail area of Malaysia in 1999. The city needed rejuvenation and reinvestments and YTL rose to the challenge. We acquired two prime shopping centres in the city and we persuaded the government to drop custom duties on designer leather goods, along with all the watches and electronic goods, making Kuala Lumpur a new exciting duty free shopping paradise.

 

We created a lovely pedestrian walk, called Bintang Walk, to link these shopping centres together with the five-star hotels. Alfresco cafes and restaurants now line this famed walk and millions of city folks and tourists visit it every year. It has truly become one of the city’s iconic landmarks.

 

The latest addition to this iconic walk is the iconic shopping centre called Starhill Gallery. It is a 28,000 sq metre shopping mall physically linked to three five-star international hotel properties namely the JW Marriott Hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur and The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, allowing us to maximise the convergence of well heeled patrons.

 

Starhill Gallery is indeed “A Gallery of Rich Experiences” and that is why the flagship Louis Vuitton store and the rest of the LVMH group like Christian Dior, Fendi, Celine are exclusively housed here.

 

We have also created the largest fine watch retailing floor in the world! The Adorn Floor is home to Cortina Watch Espace Boutique – Malaysia’s largest watch boutique certified by The Malaysian Guinness Book of Records, setting a new benchmark in watch retailing. There are numerous VIP private rooms and exhibition lounges as well as master watchmakers who are present onsite together with Sapura (Swiss Union) who have recently established a joint venture with the acclaimed Swatch Group.

 

Many iconic watch makers have chosen to establish their first stand alone boutiques and many of them are the largest in the world on this Adorn Floor.

- Ulysse Nardin, Armand Nicolet and British Masters

- Jaeger LeCoultre and Audemars Piguet have their largest boutiques in the world

- Glashűtte Original opened their second boutique

- Roger Dubuis chose to use Starhill Gallery for their latest concept store.

 

I am extremely passionate about our shopping destination and personally, I enjoy the diverse selection of incredible timepieces and the stories of the companies that we represent that have seen them sustain themselves, through time over time. We thank them all for their faith and support.

 

It is easy for me to stand here and tell you wonderful things about the Adorn Floor and what makes it unique with 80 luxury watch brands represented, but I would like to share with you some recent quotes and comments on this exciting development. These are not poets, they are watch industry principals!

 

Mr Nicolas Hayek Jr CEO Swatch Group at Starhill Gallery at the signing of a joint venture with the Sapura Group.

"I have been to many, many shopping mall environments, but I have never been in an environment like this one. There is a lot of festivity and uniqueness in this place. I am impressed that there is life in here, and always something surprising to discover. We want our presence here.”

 

Dr Frank Müller – President of Glasshütte Original at the recent boutique opening ceremony in Starhill Gallery.

“..I was awed by the Petronas Twin Towers during my first visit to Kuala Lumpur. Last year, I observed something so perplexing and special. This time it was the birth of the globe’s most elite site for retailing of fine watches, Starhill Gallery. I have never seen a place like this. No where on this planet, is it possible to enter the fascinating world of mechanical watches in a more elegant, diverse, cultivated, relaxed and high class manner. Starhill Gallery is unique indeed.”

 

Mr Jerome Lambert – CEO of Jaeger LeCoultre

“….Singapore has had a head start. But in terms of local clients, Malaysia is very comparable to Singapore. There has been a genuine luxury development locally in the last five years. Starhill Gallery has 99% of what London can offer. It’s about luxury.”

 

Mr Eric Loth - CEO and President of British Masters

“Starhill Gallery's watch floor (Adorn Floor) is really something interesting and unique in the world, where the display of watches can be found on one complete floor with boutiques, multi-brand boutiques and single brand boutiques. I’ve never seen anything like this on this planet."

 

Ladies and gentlemen, today’s collaboration with Armand Nicolet displays a commitment and interest that we have in the long-term development and association with global fine watch retailers. It is indeed a fitting start to have Starhill embedded with such a historic house.

 

I look forward to welcoming you all to Starhill Gallery in Kuala Lumpur soon.

 

Thank you and God bless you.

 

 

Speech by Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh

Launch of Starhill Special Watch Collection in association with Armand Nicolet
at Basel Watch Fair
6.00pm. Friday 31st March 2006

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