Retail in Asia

In Markets

The retail giants shaping Asia’s shopping landscape

From Hong Kong and Mainland China to Japan, South Korea, and Thailand, these retail magnates are shaping the region’s shopping and cultural commerce landscape as we know it.

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Adrian Cheng, CEO and executive vice-chairman, New World Development; founder, K11; founder, the WEMP Foundation, Hong Kong

Cheng is the chief executive officer and executive vice-chairman of New World Development, overseeing the strategy and operations of the entire group, which spans property investment and development, among other areas.

Adrian Cheng, chief executive officer and executive vice-chairman, New World Development. Source: New World Development

As heir to the 50-year-old group, Cheng spearheaded the development of Hong Kong’s Victoria Dockside, and is focused on embedding culture, technology, innovation and sustainability into the organisation – most noticeably in the K11 brand, where he continues to merge art and commerce in creating a fuller and more meaningful customer experience.

The K11 brand, his brainchild, includes malls K11 Musea and K11 Art Mall, offices and luxury residences. Cheng also champions a number of causes through his not-for-profit organisations, such as the WEMP Foundation, Hong Kong’s first NGO focused on children’s mental health.

Among his latest endavours is 11 Skies, a new landmark designed to become Hong Kong’s largest hub for retail, dining, and entertainment as well as offering wealth management and wellness services, opening in phases from 2023 to 2025.

Cheng’s influence extends well beyond Hong Kong and into the mainland, as Cheng is also leading the development of major projects in the Greater Bay Area, including the one-of-a-kind commercial complex ECOAST in Shenzhen – which aims to become first circular economy hub and the largest harbourfront cultural-retail destination in the region.

Supaluck Umpujh, chairman, The Mall Group, Thailand
Supaluck Umpujh, chairman, The Mall Group. Source: The Mall Group

Known to be one of Thailand’s most successful entrepreneurs, Supaluck Umpujh chairs and leads The Mall Group, one of Thailand’s largest mall and department store conglomerates, which was founded by her father Supachai Umpujh. Her family’s retail empire also spans other popular Thai malls, such as Siam Paragon, The Emporium, EmQuartier and Bluport Hua Hin. Having led the conglomerate for over three decades, Umpujh has seen their retail developments through a number of challenges, yet remains a solid player in Thailand’s increasingly competitive retail landscape.

Most recently, Umpujh’s game-changing Siam Paragon embarked on a USD88.6 million redevelopment project in 2022, projected for completion by 2024. The transformation “will seamlessly bridge the physical world, the digital world, and the Metaverse to present the incredible and exciting lifestyles of the future,” said her company in a statement.

Chung Ji-Sun, chairman, The Hyundai, South Korea
The Hyundai in Seoul. Source: Shutterstock

Chung Ji-Sun is chairman of South Korea’s Hyundai Department Store and Hyundai Greenfood. A scion of Hyundai founder Chung Ju-yung, whose rags-to-riches story elevated him from the son of a farmer to one of Korea’s richest men, Ji-Sun worked to rebrand the department store chain as the Hyundai. In 2021 he unveiled The Hyundai Seoul in Yeouido, marking the opening of the biggest department store in Seoul with nearly 90,000 square metres of retail space.

With Chung a big believer in “retail therapy,” the Hyundai malls are known to promote areas for rest and relaxation, incorporating outdoor spaces into the mall setting. The Hyundai Seoul, for example, features a 3,300-square-metre Sounds Park or indoor garden to bring a touch of nature into the mall.

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Toshiyoki Hosuya, president and CEO, Isetan Mitsukoshi in Japan
Isetan department store in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Source: Shutterstock

Toshiyuki Hosoya has been chief executive officer of Isetan Mitsukoshi since 2021, joining from his previous role as president of the Isetan-owned department store Iwataya Mitsukoshi. Hosoya leads the group’s considerable portfolio, which includes 25 department stores in and outside of Japan, in addition to ventures in finance and real estate, though its flagship retail developments Isetan Shinjuku, Mitsukoshi Nihombashi, and Mitsukoshi Ginza, are all located in Tokyo.

Under his leadership, Isetan Shinjuku has become the highest-selling single retail store in Japan by both total sales and sales densities, but it is aiming for higher in 2023 and beyond.