Retail properties

Hong Kong’ s New World carves a retail niche in Tsuen Wan with D.Park for children

Shopping mall developer sees no let-up in spending on children despite a reduction in overall numbers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 April, 2016, 11:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 April, 2016, 11:12pm

Dwindling footfalls and intense competition in the Hong Kong retail market is prompting developers of shopping malls to tap unexplored areas for growth.

New World Development has gone a step further and is using its revamped D.Park shopping mall in Tsuen Wan to tap the niche children’s market. The group has launched Multiple Intelligence Kids Malls targeting children under the age of 12, eight years after it introduced the K11 art mall concept in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Adrian Cheng Chi-kong, executive vice chairman of New World, said the D.Park in Tsuen Wan will be the first mall in Hong Kong that will operate under the concept of “playing, learning and retailing” under one roof.

“In Hong Kong, there is not enough spaces for (kids) to play and to learn. We see it as a demand, and therefore, we decided to create the world’s first children’s mall with a theme park and a multiple intelligence mall,” said Cheng.

Although the government has projected that the number of children under the age of 15 will decrease from 11 per cent in 2014 to 9 per cent in 2064, industry experts believe that parents will not cut their spending on kids.

Hong Kong’s population is estimated to reach 7.81 million in 2064, from 7.24 million in mid-2014, according to the Census and Statistics Department.

The 630,000 square feet D.Park has set aside 40,000 square feet for the Multiple Intelligence Zones which will offer a series of ‘experience’ courses for children under the age of 12. In addition, it has also teamed up with 100 educational institutions and international educational groups to offer 1,000 courses for children of various age groups.

“As we are the pioneers, we don’t see any competition,” Cheng said. New World has invested HK$700 million to revamp the mall since 2012. Rental income has increased by more than 30 per cent since the newly renovated mall was opened in January, with visitor footfalls reaching around 3 million per month.

Jeannette Chan, regional director of the retail department at JLL said the decline in the number of children will have a limited impact on the market.

“Parents prefer saving money on themselves, but never for children. They want to give them the best always,” she said.

Such thematic malls will be hard for other landlords to copy as it needs a huge area and other related facilities, she said.

Developers have already started becoming aggressive in areas like Tsuen Wan, which has a sizable number of malls. The area already has Sino Land’s City Walk and Sun Hung Kai Properties Tsuen Wan Plaza.

Helen Mak, head of retail service at property consultant firm Knight Frank said Tsuen Wan has been gaining ground with retailers as an increasing number of extended families have moved back to the area after the opening of West Tsuen Wan Station.

“The better infrastructure has transformed the area from an old district into an area with more new residential projects and created demand for children facilities,’ she said.

Cheng said the concept would be expanded to mainland China with Wuhan likely to be the first city to have a children’s mall.

“In China, about 13 million couples get married every year and this creates ample potential for future development,” he said.