JOHOR BAHRU: Hundreds of shoppers queued up outside Toppen Shopping Centre on Wednesday (Nov 13) ahead of its official opening to catch the first glimpse of Johor Bahru's newest megamall.
The visitors, who reside in Johor as well as neighbouring Singapore, arrived as early as 7am.
One of them, Ms Jocelyn Tay, said she and her family wanted to take advantage of the discounts and free goodies promised by the retailers on the opening day.
"I saw some stores were offering good discounts, so I wanted to be early to avoid the crowds," she said, adding that they joined the line at 7.20am.
Toppen, which is connected to IKEA Tebrau, opened its doors with 90 per cent of its retail space taken up.
Its tenants include brands that are new to the Johor state, such as e-sports arena The Pantheon as well as fashion store Concept Haus.
It also has a rooftop area with amenities such as a skate park, a parkour zone and a rock wall.
The first 2,000 visitors received a free goodie bag from IKEA, which included Toppen merchandise as well as a booklet of vouchers for the retail outlets.
MALL TARGETS 15 MILLION VISITORS BY 2020
Toppen, which means “great” in Swedish, is 100 per cent owned and developed by IKEA.
The mall’s total area, which includes IKEA, is 1.25 million sq ft – the size of 16 average football pitches.
It is the third shopping mall in Malaysia that is anchored by IKEA, the first two being IPC Shopping Centre in Petaling Jaya and MyTown in Kuala Lumpur.
The Swedish furniture company is confident that this business model of putting its IKEA stores “as part of a thriving commercial hub” would be fruitful.
“We can partner with other retail destinations but we have found that if we combine the IKEA store (with a shopping mall) and then we lease out space to tenants that we know, both will benefit from the cross-visitation," Mr Christian Olofsson, IKEA Southeast Asia’s shopping centre and mixed use director, told CNA.
While acknowledging an oversupply of retail malls across Malaysia, Mr Olofsson is convinced that players will emerge stronger from the stiff competition.
He cited the example of how Toppen, IKEA, Aeon and Tesco are situated close to each other.
“What this brings out is a lot of competition of course … I think it’s healthy, it pushes us and the players will come out of this stronger or be weeded out and has to change (strategy),” he said.
Toppen's goal is to attract more than 15 million residents and tourists by next year, he revealed.
Its main target is Johor residents, but visitors from Singapore are also welcome, he added.
Ms Siti Rahmah Muhd Zainal, a polytechnic student from Singapore who was among those queueing up outside Toppen on Wednesday, told CNA that she braved the heavy traffic at the Woodlands Checkpoint because she was curious to see what all the hype was about.
“I think this concept of having a mall beside an IKEA is interesting. The IKEA in Singapore are standalone stores, and here, I can shop at the different shops and have meatballs (at IKEA’s in-house restaurant) for lunch,” she said.