How malls keep up with times

Finance | Dominique Nguy 3 Oct 2016

Keith Ng Man-keung, head of capital markets at Link REIT (0823), has explained the sort of thinking that goes into formulating "asset enhancements" at its malls even as business expands.

Gauging prospects is an obvious central pillar in planning, he said.

At Oi Man Plaza, for example, Link planned ahead as it was known Ho Man Tin MTR station would take shape and many developers were building in the area. So Oi Man enhancement work was completed in 2013 and Ho Man Tin station is about to open.

"Most of our malls were able to achieve a return on investment of about 15 percent after asset enhancement except for a few cases such as Stanley Plaza and Lok Fu Plaza," he added.

Ng joined Link in 2009 and helped with enhancements among other tasks. "Link REIT had about 180 malls back then and it took me half a year, using lunch times and family weekends, to visit all of them" he said.

"My main role now is to raise funds and manage expenses and borrowings. The company is still growing and changes can be huge. It can be difficult to foresee when we will make acquisitions."

On mainland buys, Ng said Link is positive.

Online shopping must be faced "whether you like it or not," he said, but operators can change mall mixes by having more food and beverage operations and "experience-related" elements.

And there are features such as lockers for people to pick up online purchases.

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