In People

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with IKEA Southeast Asia

Christian Rojkjaer_Profile 1

IKEA Southeast Asia fuses modern Scandinavian comfort and Malaysian hospitality for a unique one-stop shopping experience.

IKEA Southeast Asia is pleased to announce the development of Toppen Shopping Centre, an impressive 1.1 million square-feet shopping destination located in the heart of Tebrau, Johor.

SEE ALSO : Toppen Shopping Centre, a new heart for the Johor community

This shopping centre, which is seamlessly integrated with IKEA Tebrau, is expected to open its doors to the surrounding neighbourhood and extended community by the third quarter of 2019.

Retail in Asia has had the chance to interview Christian Rojkjaer’s time, Managing Director of IKEA Southeast Asia and ask him about the opening of Toppen Shopping Centre in Malaysia.

RiA : What’s the concept behind Toppen?

Christian : The concept behind Toppen builds on three key elements. Toppen Shopping Centre is developed to be the one-stop heart and hub of the community, where we become a meeting place that caters to everyone’s unique needs.

It is seamlessly integrated with IKEA Tebrau, making it a complete retail destination.

Staying true to its unique roots, the entire Toppen fuses with the concept of Scandinavian hospitality and comfort.

RiA : What are key features of this retail space?

Christian : Toppen is actually a Swedish word which means ‘Awesome’, ‘fabulous’ or ‘Great’. And it is also a combination of the word ‘Top and Open’, which reflects the shopping centre’s one-of-a-kind rooftop community hub.

Equipped with all-weather shading, the rooftop is a perfect spot for fun-filled activities for the whole community because it has a large multi-purpose piazza, community garden, play areas, a cinema and alfresco eateries.

Toppen is a 4-level community-friendly shopping centre that focuses on being a space for people to come together, to shop, dine, or simply to spend their time.

RiA : Why opening it in this specific area?

Christian : Firstly, we chose to have IKEA Tebrau and Toppen Shopping Centre to be in Tebrau Johor Bahru, because it is surrounded by vibrant residential and commercial zones. The community is growing diversely and more businesses are booming.

There are schools, residences, hospitals, and other commercial and sports areas; all of which allows us to grow and progress together as a community.

It is also an area that is convenient accessible via major roads and public transport routes.

Johor as an overall state is a land of great opportunities, especially upholding the title as the third most populous city in Malaysia. Over the years, Johor has attracted business opportunities and cross border visitation.

RiA : What’s the customer profile?

Christian : Toppen’s visitor profile is diverse, with a good mix of male and female from all age groups. We will see young adults and young families grow with us as a shopping centre.

Our location has given us the opportunity to attract shoppers from both the Southern region of Malaysia and Singapore.

Singaporeans and other tourists are predicted to contribute 10% of the total retail sales as a result of cross border shopping and visitations.

What’s Toppen’s business strategy and expectation for 2019?

Christian : Toppen sets itself apart from competition by being the shopping centre that focuses on being a family-centric shopping centre yet with a myriad of offerings appealing to the young professionals.

Toppen is set to attract more than 15 million shoppers in the first year of its operations

With our close relationships and partnerships with international and local retailers, Toppen is set to provide a unique destination equipped with family-friendly facilities and community activities, providing a unique experience for Johorians and also shoppers from neighbouring regions.

RiA : In what way will Toppen contribute to Malaysia and Singapore economic growth?

Christian : Toppen has 1.1 million square feet of leasable area which gives local and international businesses and manufactures a space to expand their operations beyond their own market.

This increases their visibility and can be a positive revenue stream for both the countries.

For the community, Toppen will create approximately 5,000 job opportunities in which comes from different segments of our business. From tenants, suppliers and partners, to our internal team.

RiA : What’s your plan for Singapore and Thailand?

Christian : We currently have 2 IKEA stores in Singapore and just launched e-commerce there last year. In Thailand, we have 2 IKEA stores, having just opened IKEA Bangyai in March this year, our largest IKEA store in Southeast Asia. Besides this, we also have opened a new Foodwalk F&B extension in our flagship shopping centre, Megabangna in the Bangna area of Bangkok.

RiA : How are you coping with the change in the retail landscape that is challenging the survival of shopping malls?

Christian : As a group, IKEA Southeast Asia has adopted the concept of co-creation. This means actively working and engaging with anchors such as IKEA stores, tenants, visitors and the local community around. Through shared commitments and mutual business, we can develop a long-lasting relationship with tenants and improve the quality of life of people.

We want our centres to be a meeting place where people not only shop, but also connect, socialize, get inspired, experience new things, and find something new every day.

Gone are the days of traditional shopping centres. To create a long-lasting and effective retail destination, it is very important to understand and follow the societal developments and the needs of the local communities.

We feel that now, more than ever, is a very interesting time for the retail industry. There are multiple new channels now that allows us to reach out to our community and consumers, we must embrace this change and integrate this further in our overall shopping experience.

RiA : What’s Toppen’s retail experience?

Christian : Like all our shopping centres in Malaysia and Thailand, we are a destination that is for the many.

We also provide so much more than just a shopping and dining experience to our customers. It is about the overall journey which starts way before they step foot in to our centre – from our website to our parking systems.

SEE ALSO : Ikea to bow ASEAN distribution centre in Malaysia

So, while we offer range of shopping and dining options for every preference and wallet, we also focus on the smaller details such as accessibility, convenience, comfort and security.

Toppen’s retail experience is all about giving people a sense of belonging and perfectly respond to the local’s desires and needs.

Retail in Asia is looking forward to see the project completed.

Follow Retail in Asia on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Get our top stories delivered to your inbox: