Urban Asset Solutions formally launches in Cambodia. Known as UAS, UAS specializes in the retail sector providing retail services including Mall Management, Retail Leasing, Mall Marketing and Retail Consultancy Services.
Urban Asset Solutions (UAS) enters the Cambodia market at a time of rapid growth in the retail sector with many new retail projects planned or already under development.
Khmer Times sat down with Simon Griffiths, Managing Director of UAS to understand more about UAS, the timing of the company launch and the growing retail sector in Phnom Penh and beyond.
KT: Can you explain more about Urban Asset Solutions (UAS) and the services UAS provides?
SG: Urban Asset Solutions (UAS) is a commercial real estate firm specializing in the retail sector. UAS’s core services are retail leasing and retail centre and mall management. UAS has brought new international brands and flag-ship stores to Cambodia and completes on average 15 retail leases, equating to over a 1,000 sq.m, each month but when you consider that more than 200,000 sq.m of retail space will come on-line in Phnom Penh over the next 2 years, UAS wants to expand our leasing capability to double or triple the current amount and we are focused on achieving this.
Our mall management platform is unique in Cambodia. UAS provides a Total Mall Management Platform whereby UAS is able to act for the landlord undertaking all mall management functions including, retail leasing, mall marketing, accounting to international and industry standards and the strategic and property management of the mall.
We found many developers want to focus on their core strength which is property development and often do not want to take on large mall management teams for each and every project. This is especially true for retail centres and malls as retail as a property ‘use class’ are the most strategically complex asset to manage and require specialist teams and knowledge.
KT: You say UAS is transacting leases each month. Which retail projects are UAS working on?
SG: UAS provides retail leasing services to The Bridge Mall where UAS has become the leading retail agency in terms of actual square meters leased and number of leases completed. If you or your readers would like to visit and see inside The Bridge Mall let me know as you can visit and see the design concept complete and it is going to be an exciting addition to Phnom Penh’s retails scene. The interior design concept is unique for Cambodia and I think that it is going to be something that people really enjoy.
UAS is also the leasing and managing agent for the Riverside Entertainment project ‘WB Arena’. We have been involved with WB Arena from the concept stage providing retail consultancy on positioning, pricing, target market and followed through on our retail consultancy by providing leasing services and in 2 months UAS becomes the Retail Management Company providing UAS’s ‘Total Mall Management Platform’.
We have now started discussions with a number of other developers on how to offer UAS’s service at their projects but nothing more that I can announce for now.
KT: Do you foresee challenges in the retail sector over the coming months and years?
There will be challenges. The supply of retail space in the market will exceed the requirements from tenants in the short to medium term… essentially a tenants market is on the horizon if not here already. The advantage for retailers, rents become more competitive, the risk, not all retail centres will be a smash hit success, so the retailers have to choose carefully and take educated guesses on where to place their next stores. Retailers consider the development concept and design, tenant mix, price and pricing strategy, mall positioning, anchor tenants and attractions, location and mall management among other factors to make a decision on whether they think a retail project will be a success.
Developers and landlords have to compete for these retailers and try to attract them ahead of their competition and to do this they must be aware of what retailers are demanding and what competing retail centres and malls are offering. This is where at UAS we believe we are well positioned to help and provide services and expertise to developers and landlords to give them every chance of success for their malls and retail centres.
KT: It sounds like there may be oversupply in the retail sector?
The nature and culture of retail in Cambodia is changing. Consumers attitudes to shopping in malls is undergoing rapid change and the young population of Cambodia, the millennial population, by far the largest demographic group in the country are embracing malls and this trend will continue and grow. Retail brands big and small are entering Cambodia at a faster than ever seen before, so more retail space is required. Yes there are challenges, there are challenges with all property types but at the same time it is a very exciting time for the retail sector.
KT: Does UAS have any plans to expand into other sectors?
As mentioned, we are expanding our retail core strengths in retail leasing and mall management. With our mall management platform, leasing and marketing capability it is feasible UAS could enter into the commercial office market but for now our focus is on the retail market.
Simon Griffiths, Managing Director, Urban Asset Solutions (UAS), speaking with Khmer Times this week on the launch of UAS and his thoughts on the retail sector.