Sunday, September 20

Hektar REIT: Retail sector will bounce back

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Hisham (centre) is seen with executive director and chief corporate officer Zarina Halim (left) and Finance senior general manager Khairul Azizan Ahmad during the press conference.

KUCHING: The retail sector will likely bounce back with visitor footfall numbers to shopping malls to increase eventually, says Hektar Real Estate Investment Trust (Hektar REIT),

Hektar REIT executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Hisham Othman is confident that the retail sector will bounce back, especially as aside from their own homes and offices, Malaysians tend to spend much of their time in malls.

“Retail will bounce back. Of course, retail together with tourism, hotel industry, as well as travel, were one of the most severely hit sectors of the economy, not just in Malaysia, but throughout the world,” Hisham said during a press conference of Hektar REIT’s 2019 Annual General Meeting.

“Experts are saying we have to learn to live with Covid-19 and I think generally, Malaysians have done very well in this respect. With very few exceptions, Malaysians know how to behave when they go out or when they are in a crowd.

“Having said that, malls are like like a third home for many people. The first home is your house where you live in with your family, the second I guess in terms of time spent is your office.

“Outside of these two places, where do you meet to interact, to socialise, to entertain yourselves, it’s the malls. For Malaysians, they need to visit malls.

“As such, I strongly believe that retail will bounce back because it’s just in our culture and also the alternatives are not many.”

Hektar REIT’s portfolio includes Subang Parade, Mahkota Parade, Wetex Parade, Central Square, Kulim Central and Segamat Central.

Hisham acknowledged that although Malaysians may not shop as much, when it comes to other things other than food and beverage (F&B), what Hektar REIT is looking for is actually an increase in visitor footfalls which is happening.

To note, traffic has rebounded up to 60 to 70 per cent during Recovery MCO in June for some of Hektar REIT’s malls.

As part of its cost reduction strategies post-MCO, Hektar REIT has targeted up to 40 per cent reduction in marketing expenses, compared to approximately RM2.86 million in financial year 2019 (FY19).

“This is in addition to what we have explained to make sure that shoppers know that our malls are actually safe shopping venues.

“The whole idea is about bringing back confidence to customers.”