Sands China has recently expanded Shoppes at Cotai Central, including 36 new retailers. British retailer Marks & Spencer opened last Friday, while various kids’ designer apparel stores have been added to strengthen a family-friendly approach. In an interview with the Times, the senior vice president of retail at Sands Retail, Mr David Sylvester, stressed that Sands has strived to incorporate different market sectors, reaching out to a diverse client base. The operator intends to offer about 80 percent of brands that are new to Macau at The Parisian.
Macau Daily Times (MDT) – Sands China has expanded its retail offerings, bringing in new brands such as Marks & Spencer and Zara Home. Could you give us a few updates on the company’s strategy for this sector?
David Sylvester (DS) –
We’ve got four key things that are coming out in the next few years. Today, we launched phase III of Sands Cotai Central. This is part of the strategy reinforcing this particular mall as being family-friendly. These properties (Holiday Inn, Sheraton etc.) – they attract a lot of children and families. So we’re really positioning this mall to benefit from that customer base. The next big thing that will happen will be opening the H&M store, which will be happening around April next year at the Venetian. Then we have the Big Planet J, in Sands Cotai Central. It’s a high-tech role-
play theme park for kids. Every mall we develop, we try to put in different market segments, so that we are broadening all bases. The Parisian is going to be a bit more fashion-forward, creative, a bit more edgy, for a younger customer base. Then we will have the opening of phase IV in Sands Cotai Central. This will include a supermarket and a few American brands.
MDT – Why did you choose particular brands like Marks & Spencer?
DS – For us, it’s all about getting more to offer. The more we can offer, the more tourists that will come across here. That’s why about 80 percent of The Parisian’s brands will be new to Macau.
MDT – What kind of retail offerings does The Parisian entail?
DS – Tourists are going to find in the Parisian a sensation for the senses; you’ve got a half-
scale Eiffel Tower at the front, restaurants, and an observation deck at the top. We’ve actually broken the mall up, so it’s a streetscape. As the Venetian is Venice, Parisian is Paris, so the main corridor is the Champs- Élysées. It’s not that we have absolutely duplicated it; it’s that we’ve grabbed architectural features from the Champs-Élysées. We try to create more than a shopping environment, but an experience. It’s going to be Venetian on steroids.
MDT – Can you disclose the latest figures on retail revenue for Sands China properties?
DS – In the first half, we did USD1.25 billion in sales, which is 21 percent up from last year. We did USD2.2 billion last year. We’re lucky that we have the first-mover advantage. The reason why we’ve done so well is that we got here first, we’ve established ourselves, and we’re growing smart. We’re not just duplicating. We’re actually organically growing. This was a master plan from the beginning.
MDT – What type of revenue growth are you hoping to reach?
DS – I can’t provide any forward projections. But all I can say is that we had growth of 38 percent in 2013, 27 percent in 2012, and 21 percent in the first half [of this year]. That’s the sort of figures we have seen. I came here nine years ago. In the early days, the main reason people came to our properties was for gaming. Now, the main reason is sightseeing; the second reason is shopping, so it has become a great story within itself. An integrated resort model is all about adding these non-gaming components to make it a destination. I’m very happy that retail is a great part of that.
MDT – Could retail’s role still grow?
DS – Retail is already one of the key sectors. We have five pillars: there’s gaming, hotels, entertainment (another thing that is a key driver for us), retail and conventions. They all work together and that’s the beauty of this integrated resort model. They all feed off each other, and we feel that the non-gaming component will continue to grow and grow.