GuocolandChina, the property arm of Malaysian conglomerate Hong Leong Group, is venturing into the mainland's retail industry to seek high growth and to build a sustainable brand.
The developer opened Guoson Mall in Beijing yesterday, part of the Guoson Centre, a mixed-use commercial property development adjacent to the Dongzhimen transport hub in the downtown area of the city.
The entire project, which covers 600,000 square metres, also consists of a twin office tower, a Guoman Hotel, residential apartments and a rooftop garden. The total investment on the project is 10 billion yuan (HK$11.95 billion).
'You may lose your branding if you simply build property estates and then sell them. As a property developer, it's time for us to progress into other ongoing businesses like retail and hotels,' said Violet Lee, managing director of GuocoLand China.
The Guoson Mall in Beijing is the second shopping mall that GuocolandChina has built up on the mainland.
It opened the first phase of its first Guoson Mall in Shanghai in December.
'We are looking at some sites in Tianjin at the moment. Chongqing and Chengdu in Sichuan province are also under consideration,' said Lee.
She estimated that the retail industry on the mainland would be able to maintain a double-digit growth in the next few years.
The 160,000 square metre Guoson Mall in Beijing is spread across four retail areas that target different groups of consumers. Lee said the south mall, which is connected to the transport hub, would introduce fast food chains and young fashion brands to meet the needs of office workers. The shopping gallery in the hotel would have traditional Chinese brands like Chinese medicine maker Tongrentang and cloth retailer Ruifuxiang.
International luxury brands will be available in the north mall, while the office retail zone is to offer more services like express delivery. The hotel and the office are expected to be launched next year. Asked how to survive in the highly competitive retail market in Beijing, Lee said the idea was to build a 'living mall' where people could spend a day without getting bored.
There would be plenty of activities and the landscape would be changed constantly, she added.
'As the developer, owner and operator of the mall, we have stronger passion and sense of responsibility to do it well. I think this is our advantage,' said Lee.