A $175 million facelift for The Landmark shopping centre could lead to higher rents, according to a senior executive with Hongkong Land. Jonathan Petit, executive director of Hongkong Land which owns the prestigious retail space, said: 'The chances are that most of the rents will be increasing but I wouldn't want to specify by how much.' Mr Petit said that the refurbishments were not pushing rents down. If anything, tenants renewing their leases were paying the same rent or, in some cases, higher rents, he said. 'At the moment, given the refurbishment that is going on we would hold on to at least those rents and maintain those levels,' he said. Topping the list of changes will be a new sky-light and giant multi-coloured stainless steel and glass sculpture hanging from the central atrium. The new ceiling skylight, which is currently blocked from public view by scaffolding, will be unveiled in a few months. Mr Petit said this will cast much improved natural light on the refurbished shop fronts. The large old fountain, which was the mall's centrepiece, is to be replaced with a smaller one making the ground floor feel more spacious. 'The Landmark is 15 years old and it was felt by us that we needed to do some revitalising and to give it a higher profile to keep up with the strong name brands we carry,' said Mr Petit. The project began in 1994 and is on schedule for completion early next year. When completed, company officials say the shopping precinct, which has always been a hit with tourists, will have a brighter feel. All shops will get new signboards of stainless steel and aluminium, some of which are already in place. All the flooring, wall paneling and columns are in the process of being replaced with new, warmer-feeling materials. There will be equally dramatic changes to the outside of the building, including a two-storey entrance on the corner of Ice House Street and Queen's Road. New granite surfaces are being installed around the whole exterior of the podium and work is progressing on additional show windows on the first floor level facing Pedder Street. The Pedder Street entrance itself is being redesigned. Despite the various construction works, Mr Petit said The Landmark had not suffered any downturn in retail sales. He said sales had been supported with healthy spending by Japanese and other Asian tourists. 'We keep a strong dialogue going with our tenants and we are hearing that most of the top brand names have been retailing quite well,' he said. 'Last year there was quite a return of Japanese spending. There has been a weakness in the middle to low end of the market but that is not really our market,' he said. Mr Petit said many factors were pointing to an improved retail climate in Hong Kong. 'Inflation is coming down to lower levels,' he said. 'The perception is that interest rates will come down, too. So the 'feel good' factor is better than it was.' Mr Petit said there were no vacancies in The Landmark and there was a waiting list for retail premises. Retail rents in the Landmark range from a high of $450 per square foot to a low of $200 per sq ft, he said.