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Can CapitaLand Mall Trust’s Funan live up to the hype?

Take-up rates of Capitaland's Funan Mall hits 70%

Tenants are already flocking to Funan including Golden Village Cineplex, Kopitiam Foodcourt, ABC Cooking Studio and Ark Futsal.

Things are falling into place for CapitaLand Mall Trust (CMT) as its retail offering, Funan, is enjoying strong pre-commitment levels with take-up rates already hitting 70% and 60% for its retail and office arm respectively despite its scheduled opening in Q2 2019.

Formerly a shopping center with focus on selling electronic gadgets, Funan DigitaLife Mall was closed in Q3 2016 as CMT doubled down to transform the conventional retail set-up into the city state’s first online-and-offline shopping mall where technologies facilitate a seamless shopping experience.

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Lured by the concept, tenants are already flocking to Funan including Golden Village Cineplex, Kopitiam Foodcourt, ABC Cooking Studio and Ark Futsal, data from OCBC Investment Research show.

Technological innovations in Funan aimed at enhancing the retail experience include a smart interactive directory that uses facial recognition technology to provide shoppers with customised recommendations, video analytics that study shopper traffic and crowd density, and a merchant dashboard that enables retailers to tap consumer insights, according to a flash note from CIMB.

Funan is also the first to deploy automated guided vehicles to provide shoppers with a hands-free shopping experience and utilise a robotic arm for its 24-hour drive-through click-and-collect service. Other than smart technologies, Funan will also offer a cycling path through the building at Level 1, eSports Zone, futsal court and the largest rock-climbing facility in CBD in the building as it aims to capitalise on the trend towards activity-based tenants

“All in, we like the concept of Funan and believe that its differentiated offerings which are absent in other conventional offices and malls will help to attract tenants,” Kar Mei Eing, CIMB analyst said in a report.

To date, the building has achieved 72% of overall construction in the 19 months it took to move up from groundbreaking to structural completion as Funan embodies its digital identity by incorporating smart technologies even in the construction process.

This has accelerated the opening of the retail and office arms from the initially announced Q3 2019 to Q2 2019 and the serviced residence component from 2020 to Q4 2019.

The opening of Funan bodes well for CMT although the proposed acquisition of the balance 70% of the units in Infinity Mall Trust which hold Westgate may dampen the positive buzz generated by Funan.

The total acquisition cost is estimated to be $805.5m, of which the expected cash outlay component is around $405.6m. As this is likely to be funded by both debt and equity, the overhang over a likely equity fund raising exercise may subsequently neutralise the initial positive buzz created by Funan, added OIR.

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