Retail in Asia


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Swire: the future of shopping malls

Pacific Place mall_01

Recently, The Business of Fashion defined Pacific Place as the shopping mall, which better reflects the changing shopping experience in Hong Kong. In order to understand how Pacific Place is redefining its customers’ journey in the retail space, Retail in Asia met Fiona Shiu, Deputy Director, Retail (Hong Kong), Swire Properties.

SEE ALSO : The Hong Kong shopping experience is changing

In the interview, we asked Fiona to share with us which changes she has been seeing in the retail market over years and how Swire Properties is redefining shopping experience in Pacific Place and other retail spaces like Starstreet Precinct.

RiA : What are the major changes in the retail market that Swire Properties has seen in Hong Kong over years?  

Fiona : We have always been alert to changes in the market and we have certainly seen changes in consumption patterns in recent years. More and more customers – whether they are young or old, couples or families – tend to spend more money and time exploring new dining experiences, as well as innovative lifestyle and wellness experiences in the mall.

“Experiential retail” has become increasingly popular as customers tend to look for personalised and engaging experiences. In response to this, retailers and landlords have adopted creative ways to offer unique and refreshing experiences to shoppers.

The marketplace is very dynamic and we are prepared to adopt creative ways to stay relevant to meet customer’s demands. For example, we have introduced various successful pop-up concepts, including bringing the New York sneaker store Stadium Goods to Hong Kong for the first time, and a collaboration with international and local illustrators that allowed customers to create their own personalized sneakers, and French Confectionery Sensation The BonBonist’s new pop-up sweets store. Both of these unique pop-up concepts attracted large crowds and positive media coverage.

[Pacific Place] Stadium Goods will make its inaugural debut at Pacific P...

We also recently introduced a new approximately 10,000 sqf Pure Yoga location comprising four yoga studios, which is a very popular addition among our office tenants and retail customers. Additionally, we revamped the AMC Cinema and introduced lifestyle retailer J SELECT earlier in the year.

RiA : What is the impact of e-commerce on shopping malls?

Fiona : E-commerce is a channel that is growing rapidly, and offers different choices to customers.

While e-commerce offers several advantages for shoppers, many shoppers continue to enjoy shopping in a physical mall to take advantage of things like personalized service, the ability to touch and feel a variety of products, exciting events and marketing activities, and unique dining experiences.

As a mall operator, while we are actively incorporating digital experiences into our mall to complement and enhance the overall retail experience we offer, we are also implementing other initiatives to attract new and returning customers.

In addition to revamping our tenant mix and rolling out innovative marketing campaigns, we officially launched our new loyalty programme, above, in June 2017, which offers exclusive privileges to members, including access to the VIP Pavilion lounge.

The loyalty programme will help elevate the shopping experience at Pacific Place to an all-new level while offering our customers personalized services and privileges.  We have seen a very encouraging enrolment rate so far.

Moving forward, we will continue to explore cross-branded in-mall activities with our tenants and external parties to add even more diversity and excitement to the overall shopping experience.

SEE ALSO : 6 key components to effective customer experience

RiA : What is your strategy to revive the shopping malls? How do you  attract more customers, but also keep them inside the mall for longer?

Fiona : Pacific Place launched a large-scale F&B revamp exercise in 2016 to offer customers more diversity and choice when dining at our mall.

Through our tenant mix enhancement strategy, we have increased our F&B footprint by 50%, and added more than 10 new F&B outlets. These include: Apinara Thai Cuisine and Bar , Dim Sum Library, Fuel Espresso, Hon 10 – Shokudo Moderne, L’Eclair de Genie, Le Pain Quotidien , Operetta, Commissary, BIZOU American Brasserie, Caviar House & Prunier, and Starbucks Reserve.

Since the second half of 2016, we have welcomed more than 35 new tenants to Pacific Place, from eateries and retail shops to Pure Yoga as well as Saloon, a lifestyle salon that combines hair care and whisky tasting.

The new additions have attracted new and returning customers, and have brought vibrancy and energy to the mall. Our marketing and promotion campaigns have been very well received by local residents and tourists of all ages.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, our new loyalty programme, above, has also recorded a very encouraging enrolment rate.

The revamp of our tenant mix has put us in a strong position for 2018. Sales at our mall have improved since mid-2016, and continued to show significant uplift during the third quarter of 2017. This indicates that the revamp of our tenant mix has been successful in generating sales and enhancing customers’ shopping experience at Pacific Place.

We are confident that this positive trend will continue, and we will also continue to strengthen our tenant mix and offer our customers exciting new experiences in the mall.

RiA : Many shopping malls are using food outlets as their value proposition, some of them go for Michelin-starred restaurants, some others for food courts, what is Swire Properties strategy?

Fiona : We are open-minded in our selection of F&B concepts for our malls. With regard to Pacific Place, we have engaged our existing F&B operators and new restaurant groups from inside and outside of Hong Kong in discussions to explore new and exciting restaurant concepts, and we have invited them to submit proposals for an overall review.

We make decisions based on what will be welcomed by the market or suit changing customer preferences. We intend to bring a well-balanced and diversified F&B mix to Pacific Place, from casual grab-and-go concepts to establishments offering full table service, and we will continue to introduce new and quality F&B concepts representing a range of international and Asian cuisines at a popular price point.

These outlets will be run by a number of established F&B operators who have a proven track record of bringing innovative concepts to Hong Kong. Some of them will be original concepts, while others will be making their Hong Kong debut.

RiA : We have visited your VIP lounge, but also your “Life is Art” – an Ephemeral Film and Art Experience. It seems that you try to combine a more exclusive experience with free cultural initiatives for the community. Who’s your target?

Fiona : Our audience is quite wide and varied; we welcome a wide range of families to Pacific Place, as well as our long-established and loyal customers who have been coming to Pacific Place for generations and have stayed and evolved with us.

With that said, we have focused our efforts into introducing more cultural and accessible brands and unique experiences and activations to engage a broader demographic

Beyond the mall, our goal is to make the Pacific Place the ultimate destination for people to shop, dine, work, stay, live, relax and play.

Our goal is to cast a wider net and engage with the Admiralty neighbourhood, including our Starstreet Precinct community

RiA : Any upcoming events you can unveil or highlight? 

Fiona : Christmas is always a big event for us. The theme this year is Christmas Spectacular, inspired by the experience, anticipation and thrill of going to the theatre.

In addition to an exciting lineup of performances by Hong Kong’s elite performers (including the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Hong Kong Ballet, the Hong Kong Bach Choir, Opera Hong Kong, and more), there are plenty of festive activities for families to enjoy together.

Santa Claus will return to Pacific Place to meet and greet children and parents, and there will be an array of workshops for shoppers to flex their creative muscles – plus many more surprises to delight visitors and shoppers.

2018 also promises to bring an exciting roster of highlights to Pacific Place, including the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition finale, which will be making its final stop at Pacific Place as part of their Greater China roving exhibition. The fascinating showcase will feature some of the most iconic and extreme footwear in fashion history from different cultures across the globe, and will be an eye-opening experience for Pacific Place visitors to enjoy.

Also nothing to promote yet, but Swire Properties and Pacific Place are strong supporters of Art Basel, so there will undoubtedly be something exciting to come.

SEE ALSO : Swire Hotels leading creativity in Asia’s high-end hospitality

RiA : What is your plan for Starstreet Precinct?

Fiona : The Starstreet Precinct is a unique and vibrant neighbourhood right in the heart of Hong Kong, and complements the wider Pacific Place complex which is made up of the mall, hotels, serviced apartments and Grade A office towers. Placemaking is at the core of what we do at Swire Properties, and over time we have been curating this area to best serve the needs of our wide variety of customers, residents, tenants and visitors.

Over the past year we have worked with some fantastic operators spanning many fields including F&B, retail, and the arts. We have also rolled out successful engagement campaigns to attract more footfall to the Starstreet Precinct such as the ‘Beat the Heat’ interactive pop-ups over summer and more recently, an art house film festival with MOViEMOViE. We also recently held our second White Christmas Street Fair at the area which was very well-received.

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Looking forward, we will continue to develop a tenancy mix that promotes our vision of a day-to-night lifestyle hub. We are excited to welcome local and international retail partners through pop-ups and permanent concept stores, a new fitness & wellness tenant and will be making further F&B enhancements. Our medium term goal is to make the area a lifestyle destination – somewhere you can spend a whole day doing lots of different things.

We will continue to develop our community engagement programme and hold more events around seasonal or cultural themes throughout the year including wellness, healthy living and the Arts.


For more information related to this topic, contact our InTelligence Team