Amid unrest: New luxury mall opens in Bangkok

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central embassy mallDespite the ongoing unrest in Bangkok and a dire outlook for Thailand’s political future, Central Group, Thailand’s top department store operator and its largest family-owned conglomerate, opened a new $554-million luxury mall, Central Embassy, in the capital.

The mall, located in the heart of Bangkok’s business district, the mall last week, opens amid weak domestic consumption and fierce competition from popular destinations like Hong Kong and Singapore.

Bangkok already has a few upscale fashion malls, but the Embassy is being billed as Thailand’s first full-scale luxury mall. Around 30 per cent of the center’s brand name labels – Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Saint Laurent and Pomellato jewellers – are opening their first stores in the country, The Australian reported.

The mall was originally scheduled to be launched in March 2014 but the plan was delayed until early May because both the building and the shops needed more time to get ready. Ongoing political protests have also played a part.

“When there were protests at the beginning of the year, we could not get access to the site. So, obviously, no access, no construction,” said Chart Chirathivat, managing director of the Central Embassy who has been overseeing the project since its conception seven years ago.

Months of political turmoil over the leadership of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra have badly dampened consumer sentiment, with consumer confidence hitting its lowest level in nearly 13 years in April.

Anti-government protesters intent on ousting Yingluck have disrupted commercial activities in Bangkok for months, staging citywide rallies that shut down streets in early February. Once the protests calmed at the end of the month, construction resumed.

Thailand’s political crisis continues, with the Constitutional Court ruled to remove Yingluck last week – just about the time the Central Embassy opened its doors. But Chart is confident that political uncertainty won’t impact business.

“This is not our first crisis and the Central Group has been around for almost 70 years,” he said. “We always believe in Thailand and in its long-term development and growth.”

Counting on local shoppers alone to fill the mall is not Central Embassy’s main aim. It’s also banking on tourists who come to the country in large numbers and are willing to dole out big bucks for labels. Chart says he believes Thailand’s position as a leading tourist destination, however, works in its favour.

The Central Group is not the only mall developer with the goal of expanding Thailand’s shopping destinations. Its major competitor the Mall Group, which operates almost a dozen department stores nationwide, including the upscale Emporium and Siam Paragon in Bangkok, announced last week that it was investing $1.5 billion in six new world-class shopping malls in Bangkok and the resort towns of Hua Hin and Phuket.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Despite the ongoing unrest in Bangkok and a dire outlook for Thailand’s political future, Central Group, Thailand’s top department store operator and its largest family-owned conglomerate, opened a new $554-million luxury mall, Central Embassy, in the capital.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

central embassy mallDespite the ongoing unrest in Bangkok and a dire outlook for Thailand’s political future, Central Group, Thailand’s top department store operator and its largest family-owned conglomerate, opened a new $554-million luxury mall, Central Embassy, in the capital.

The mall, located in the heart of Bangkok’s business district, the mall last week, opens amid weak domestic consumption and fierce competition from popular destinations like Hong Kong and Singapore.

Bangkok already has a few upscale fashion malls, but the Embassy is being billed as Thailand’s first full-scale luxury mall. Around 30 per cent of the center’s brand name labels – Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Saint Laurent and Pomellato jewellers – are opening their first stores in the country, The Australian reported.

The mall was originally scheduled to be launched in March 2014 but the plan was delayed until early May because both the building and the shops needed more time to get ready. Ongoing political protests have also played a part.

“When there were protests at the beginning of the year, we could not get access to the site. So, obviously, no access, no construction,” said Chart Chirathivat, managing director of the Central Embassy who has been overseeing the project since its conception seven years ago.

Months of political turmoil over the leadership of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra have badly dampened consumer sentiment, with consumer confidence hitting its lowest level in nearly 13 years in April.

Anti-government protesters intent on ousting Yingluck have disrupted commercial activities in Bangkok for months, staging citywide rallies that shut down streets in early February. Once the protests calmed at the end of the month, construction resumed.

Thailand’s political crisis continues, with the Constitutional Court ruled to remove Yingluck last week – just about the time the Central Embassy opened its doors. But Chart is confident that political uncertainty won’t impact business.

“This is not our first crisis and the Central Group has been around for almost 70 years,” he said. “We always believe in Thailand and in its long-term development and growth.”

Counting on local shoppers alone to fill the mall is not Central Embassy’s main aim. It’s also banking on tourists who come to the country in large numbers and are willing to dole out big bucks for labels. Chart says he believes Thailand’s position as a leading tourist destination, however, works in its favour.

The Central Group is not the only mall developer with the goal of expanding Thailand’s shopping destinations. Its major competitor the Mall Group, which operates almost a dozen department stores nationwide, including the upscale Emporium and Siam Paragon in Bangkok, announced last week that it was investing $1.5 billion in six new world-class shopping malls in Bangkok and the resort towns of Hua Hin and Phuket.

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