WCT intends to keep its malls and hotels and improve their performance

WCT Holdings Bhd will retain all its assets, including the group's hotels and retail malls, says its group managing director, Datuk Lee Tuck Fook

There are currently no plans to sell any of the properties, he told NST Property.

Lee noted that WCT Malls Management, a wholly-owned subsidiary of WCT, is constantly revising its asset strategy to bring in new stores, new concepts, and new experiences.

"We're also looking into combining our brick-and-mortar and online shopping experiences, as well as launching an enhanced WCT loyalty programme for our retail malls, property development, and hotels," he said.

Paradigm Mall Petaling Jaya, Paradigm Mall Johor Baru, Bukit Tinggi Shopping Centre in Klang, gateway @klia2 in Sepang, and Skypark Terminal (formerly Terminal 3) at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport are among WCT's malls.

WCT also owns the New World Petaling Jaya Hotel and the Première Hotel in Klang.

Paradigm Mall Petaling Jaya and New World Petaling Jaya Hotel form part of the RM1.8 billion Paradigm integrated development in Kelana Jaya. The Ascent corporate office tower is the other component of this development.

According to Lee, Paradigm Mall Petaling Jaya is currently 97 per cent occupied.

Pop Meals, Nyonya Cendol, Home World, Empire Sushi, Realme, Vivo, Case, Original Classic Sneakers, and Melaka ABC are among the new tenants at the mall, he said.

Lee said the leasing team has also made new lease offers to a few additional cafes and businesses.

The occupancy rates at the other WCT malls, according to Lee, are above 80 per cent.

"We aim to leverage on the eventual easing of restrictions on travel and renewed consumer confidence and focus on bringing our retail malls' performance back on track," he said.

Meanwhile, Lee said that WCT has no intentions to sell or convert the hotel rooms at the New World Petaling Jaya Hotel into SoHo (small office, home office) units.

He said that the hotel will continue to function as a five-star establishment.

New World Petaling Jaya Hotel, jointly owned by WCT and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) opened in January 2018.

The hotel is managed by New World Hotels & Resorts, one of the brands under Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, which is owned by Hong Kong-based New World Development.

During the opening, WCT revealed that the hotel had an RM300 million investment.

It is one of Petaling Jaya's tallest hotels, with 300 guestrooms. The hotel shares a single 30-story tower with Azure Residences. The hotel rooms are located on the higher floors.

Since opening in 2018, occupancy has been increasing year-on-year, said Lee.

"Our hotel is a favourite choice for wedding receptions, exhibitions and events, and corporate meetings," he said.

Lee said due to Covid-19, the hotel's occupancy has dropped to roughly 12 per cent, compared to nearly 50 per cent before the outbreak.

He said that by preserving the Average Room Rate (ARR), WCT has avoided engaging in a price war.

"We have managed to achieve an average ARR of not more than 15 per cent lower than pre-Covid 19 rates," he said.

Bullish outlook

WCT's view for the group's mall and hotel industries, according to Lee, remains positive.

Lee said that with a rising vaccinated population and the epidemic steadily coming under control, he believes the worst is almost over.

As movement limitations are eased further and Covid-19 instances are brought under control, Lee said that WCT is certain that the group's mall and hotel businesses will revive strongly.

According to Lee, the group had a similar strong rebound in August and September 2020, as well as March and April 2021 this year.

"We have put in place the necessary safety and hygiene measures as well as many exciting new promotions to welcome back our shoppers and guests," he said.

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