Outlet mall with a difference
Sonia Ramachandran 
An artist’s impression of an aerial view of Silverlakes Brand Village

Though there are concerns of an oversupply of shopping malls, the operator behind Silverlakes Brand Village in Kinta Valley, Ipoh, is not in the least perturbed.

Its confidence stems from many factors, including the mall’s strategic and scenic location opposite an Electric Train Service (ETS) station and facing a lake dotted with raintrees as well as its identity as an outlet mall.

In fact, Silverlakes Brand Village has roped in shopping centre specialists McArthur + Company to be involved in its conception, planning and leasing.

Arjuna says the mall will engage the senses through nature, cuisine and entertainment

McArthur + Company development advisory consultant Arjuna Indralingam tells FocusM the project will be built by Silverland Capital Sdn Bhd, in partnership with Tourism Malaysia and the Perak state government which has identified it as a key official tourism transformation project.

He says unlike other outlet malls in the country, Silverlakes Brand Village will be the first such mall set by a 202.3ha lake with 100- to 200-year-old raintrees and a train station connection just 100 minutes from KL Sentral via the ETS.

“Silverlakes Brand Village will also be the first outlet mall to offer visitors a multitude of activities and offerings above and beyond its retail tenants,” says Arjuna.

These, he says, include an international 200-room four-Star Ramada Hotel and 1,000-pax convention centre, all-day water sport activities, F&B outlets, an innovative cinema concept and Malaysia’s first Datuk Lat Museum & Art Gallery.

Silverland Capital is helmed by Datuk Azizan Abdul Rahman, who is also the chairman of Eastern & Oriental Bhd and TH Properties Sdn Bhd.

 McArthur + Company has provided strategic advice as well as leasing and management services to projects in over a dozen countries and territories including the US, the Middle East, Azerbaijan, India, Monaco and South Korea.


No competition

Silverlakes Brand Village Outlet, which sits on 13.25ha, is part of phase one of the Silverlakes development, which covers 206.8ha and has an estimated gross development value of over RM2 bil.

It is expected to be completed by year-end, with a soft launch by December.

The hotel and convention centre will come up next to the brand village and is expected to commence construction by year-end.

McArthur + Company director Previndran Singhe says they are not concerned about nearby commercial hubs or retail centres as theirs is a non-competing retail format.

We want visitors to enjoy the relationship between the mall and the lake, says Previndran

He adds that they want to create an environment where visitors are able to enjoy the relationship between the mall and the lake.

“There will be a cinema housed near the lake. It will be an innovative cinema concept and we are currently in discussions with a new operator. It will be something different that will be unveiled later,” he says.

He says all the buildings in the brand village will be single-storey and face each other in a village layout near the lake. The existing lake will make up about 40% of phase one of the development.

Previndran says there will also be a theatre where themed events will be held once a month, in addition to weekly flea and food markets.

Arjuna says leasing commenced in June last year and the response has been good with more than 50% of the space committed to.

“Leasing rates will be competitive and realistic to surrounding areas, with leasing sizes of between 1,000 and 2,000 sq ft with variable configurations,” he adds.

Phase two of the development will consist of modern gated-and-guarded lakeside residential enclaves comprising lakeview townhouses, courtyard homes and lakeside villas.

Phase three will involve a private lakeside pool villa boutique resort development named The Cocoon.

An artist’s impression of the main entrance of Silverlakes Brand Village

Mall with a difference

Arjuna says the major difference about Silverlakes Brand Village is that “it is not just about shopping”.

“We want to attract families. We want to be an all-day centre. When the parents are shopping, there must be activities that the children can engage in as well.

“We will have water sport activities, both motorised and non-motorised such as jet skis, kayaking, wakeboarding, water skiing as well as paddle boats and water taxies to transport visitors to both sides of the lake which will house shopping and F&B venues,” he says.


Not just a weekend destination

Arjuna adds the company will be bringing in over 200 brands, including some new ones and even brands without an existing outlet mall presence or strategy.

“We are adopting a strategy that will give us great results and we are nimble enough to react to market conditions,” he says.

He also says the mall has to create a lasting impression and provide an experience that encourages repeat visits. “To do that, we must create some bond with the development. There must also be a bond with the
local community.

“We will achieve this primarily by prioritising an experiential retail journey for our visitors, focusing on engaging the senses through nature, cuisine and entertainment. Then you can become a weekday destination, and not just a weekend one.”

Previndran adds: “This will be akin to Europe’s High Street concept but in a more natural setting.”

Absocap Holdings Sdn Bhd director Alexander Woo feels this development has potential.

“Malls are a popular choice for people to spend leisure time and Ipoh comes across as a tourism hotspot, thus there is a fair chance that people would appreciate some shopping while there.

“Outlet stores are expected to offer some good deals so people who go there are likely to be in the mood for a hunt rather than just to hang out at a conventional retail mail,” he says.

“Its proximity to the ETS station is an added advantage.”


Future plans

It was initially reported that Silverlakes Brand Village will be managed by Australia-based retail specialist Metier Pty Ltd and was slated to be completed by end-2016.

“The delay from 2016 to 2018 was a strategic decision by the owners. They then refocused on layouts and strategy with McArthur on board,” explains Previndran.

He adds that Metier did the initial layout and is still involved on an ad hoc basis with McArthur working with Zerin Properties locally.

“McArthur came in because it has a local presence and a very strong partnership with Zerin Properties,” says Previndran, who is also the group CEO and founder of Zerin Properties.

He is confident that McArthur could add value to the development and bring best practices to the table.

“Plus, its partnership with Zerin could leverage on the leasing experience of the latter, bringing about a win-win solution,” he says.

On future plans for McArthur, Previndran says it wants a bigger presence in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. “We want to carry on in Kuala Lumpur, being the hub of Asia. We like to hit the by-cities that have malls. We like secondary cities and secondary malls as we see a lot of potential there.

“We would like to implement our ‘Mall Doctor’ strategy that targets underperforming malls. It will be like going to a doctor who has practised internationally.”

In November, the government announced a temporary freeze on the building of shopping malls, commercial and residential developments with units costing above RM1 mil each due to an oversupply of such properties.

On this, Previndran says: “Coming in to curtail developers is not the best thing to do right now. A laissez-faire approach is always better.

“What could have been done instead would have been to require feasibility studies for malls that are reviewed by the banks before they can be built.”

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 266.