Thailand will gain another glittering jewel in its shopping-paradise crown when Japan's ultra-high-end department store Takashimaya opens its new global flagship property in Iconsiam, a Bt50-billion upscale landmark project on the Bangkok riverfront.
“We would like to participate in the weaving of social value and creating a new lifestyle to any society we have entered. We will give significantly to local consumers,” Koji Suzuki, chairman of Takashimaya Co, said yesterday at the signing of a 51:49 joint-venture agreement with Iconsiam Co.
Siam Takashimaya, which was set up with Bt1.2 billion in registered capital, will invest about Bt3 billion to develop the Takashimaya department store, of which Bt1.8 billion will be for construction and Bt1.2 billion for all operations and the fitting out of the store.
Iconsiam Co was formed by Siam Piwat Co in partnership with Magnolia Quality Development Corp and Charoen Pokphand Group to develop the national landmark project on Charoen Nakhon Road. Iconsiam is expected to open in 2017 and break even in about 10 years.
Suzuki said Thailand showed great potential for the long term thanks to a strong sustainable economy and rising personal incomes. The company has also met a good local partner here.
Founded in 1831, Takashimaya now operates 19 department stores in Japan and three in Singapore, Shanghai and Taipei.
The focus is on two key markets – China and Asean.
“Sales at our Shanghai store are not as targeted due to the negative impact from the relational conflict between China and Japan. We however will follow the situation in China closely and with such a problem, we will give a higher weighting to our expansion in Asean,” he said.
Besides the Takashimaya department store in Singapore, which opened 20 years ago, the company will also open a branch in Ho Chi Minh City in 2016, followed by the Iconsiam outlet in Bangkok the following year.
Suzuki said Iconsiam was one of the biggest investment projects made by the private sector. It is also an important landmark on the bank of the Chao Phraya River.
Pasinee Limatibul, chairwoman of Iconsiam Co, said the joint venture with Takashimaya would fulfil the company’s promise to make Iconsiam a place where the best of the world meets the best of Thailand.
As one of Japan’s most prestigious department-store operators, which selects only the most prime locations for its new stores, Takashimaya’s decision to establish its first Bangkok store at Iconsiam will help strengthen Iconsiam’s position as a new landmark destination of Bangkok, she said.
“Takashimaya’s entry to Thailand will create another revolution in Thailand’s retail scene,” she said.
Yutaka Yamaguchi, managing director of the Thai project for Takashimaya, said the company was studying the feasibility of launching more stores in Thailand in the future.
“We know that Iconsiam’s location will be a globally significant landmark that will attract millions of visitors annually from around the region and the world.
“We aim to complement that with one of the strongest supply chains in this sector to offer consumers a host of ‘first time in Thailand’ Japanese and international brands,” he said.
There will be a great selection of products that are exclusively available at this location as well as products that have been specifically designed for the needs of Thai and regional shoppers.
Narong Chearavanont, vice chairman of Iconsiam Co, said this was an important investment in Thailand made by a top Japanese department-store operator and that reflected its confidence in the robustness of Thailand’s economy.
The partnership will also strengthen Thai-Japanese commercial ties and help Thai products to find a market in Japan through Takashimaya’s distribution network.
Leading Japanese developers have been expanding in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand. Mitsui Fudosan has formed a joint venture with Ananda Development to
develop residential projects in Bangkok worth more than Bt10 billion, and is also interested in diversifying into the retail business in the future. Real-estate giant Mitsubishi Estate Group has set up a joint venture with AP (Thailand) to develop residential projects worth up to Bt12 billion since last year.