Re-imagining retail in Bangkok

June 9, 2016 / By

Bangkok is well-known as a shopper’s paradise, with everything from a vast array of wholesale goods to a menagerie of luxury brands, all vying for the attention of foreign tourists and domestic consumers alike. Less known are the dynamics that underscore the market’s intensely competitive environment. Investment in expansions and renovations is creating vibrant and attractive third places across the city while new greenfield developments are being postponed as developers seek to optimize their existing portfolios.

Despite more than 500,000 sqm of new prime grade leaseable space completing across Bangkok since early 2013, including high profile centres such as Central Embassy and EmQuartier, less publicised expansions of existing shopping centres better illustrate the progressive nature of the city’s landlords. These landlords are increasingly seeking to create third places for individuals, groups, and families to congregate. For example:

  • Groove @ Central World – Opened in late 2013 at Central Pattana’s (CPN) flagship CentralWorld property, the Groove expansion includes 4,000 sqm of enclosed retail space as well as 8,000 sqm specifically devoted to chic restaurants and bars, creating a hangout space in the city centre.
  • Zpell @ Future Park Rangsit – Zpell is a 60,000 sqm expansion of Future Park Rangsit opened in late 2015 at northern Bangkok’s largest super regional centre. The new space is highly family and activity oriented, with indoor ice skating and snow skiing, a large indoor “eco-park” replete with numerous perennial plants and an outdoor playground.

At the same time some developers are expanding in situ with new formats, new tenants and new activities. The last several years have witnessed the closing and re-opening of several shopping centres that have been redesigned to cater to local neighbourhood clientele while pushing the envelope in retail display and design.

  • The Street Ratchadaphisek – Formerly the flagship location of Robinson’s department store, new owner TCC Land completely overhauled the 30,000 sqm centre in 2015. Featuring numerous foreign and domestic eateries, including Tim Ho Wan from Hong Kong and Mr. Pizza from Korea while also hosting Bounce, a 4,000 sqm indoor trampoline park from Australia, the centre caters exclusively to the rapidly growing and increasingly affluent surrounding neighbourhood, with parts of the centre open 24 hours.
  • Siam Discovery – Siam Piwat re-opened its 26,500 sqm centre in late May 2016 after a THB 4 billion renovation. The new centre re-imagines the traditional department store format and eschews the stale “indoor storefronts” mall format, with only a handful storefronts interspersed among broad swaths of futuristic display space curated by Siam Piwat. The centre has welcomed newcomers such as Hackett (UK), Issay Miyake and Nike’s first corporate presence and has been labelled as the “Exploratorium,” encouraging guests to mingle and explore.

At present no large prime greenfield retail centres are under construction. As development timelines for such project slow, we expect that developers may focus their investment on centre-wide renovations and expansions, with marquee properties like CentralWorld (2017) and Siam Paragon (2018) slated for high profile facelifts in the near future.

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