In November Mitsui will open its biggest Lalaport shopping centre and the largest single SC in the country to date. The Expocity Lalaport will open in northern Osaka. 2015 marks 35 years since the first Lalaport opened and this year has been the busiest yet in terms of SC openings.
Mitsui Real Estate’s largest ever Lalaport SC will open 19 November with 305 tenants and eight major entertainment centres. Located in Suita in northern Osaka, the mall will have total floor space of 223,000 sqm, making it the biggest SC in Japan and double Mitsui’s other big Lalaports at Tokyo Bay and Yokohama.
Built on the site of the 1970 Osaka Expo and sandwiched between a major highway, monorail and stadium, the SC is likely to quickly become a favourite destination for a night out or a weekend day trip. Mitsui’s most popular SC is currently Lalaport Tokyo Bay with 26 million visitors a year, but Mitsui has a conservative estimate of an average of 17 million for Expocity after the initial siege.
Although Mitsui declined to provide sales estimates for Expocity, currently its best selling properties are Lazona Kawasaki at ¥77 billion and Tokyo Bay at ¥72 billion, and it is likely Expocity will achieve sales of at least ¥60 billion. Competition is intense in Osaka at the moment. The city’s 23 department stores and the SCs in the top three shopping areas alone have added ¥200 billion of new sales in just four years, putting pressure on older or poorly managed facilities, and Expocity will only add to the pressure.
Everything about Expocity will be big. As well as keeping at least a part of the existing park and opening Japan’s tallest ferris wheel, the SC will house a museum called Nifrel operated by Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, which will exhibit marine and land animals, as well as display art illustrating natural phenomena with images and sounds. Other attractions likely to be popular will be Osaka English Village, an indoor area made to look like an American city where visitors can learn English from native English speakers, and the Pokemon Expo Gym, featuring popular Pokemon characters.
Mitsui is celebrating the 35th anniversary since the launch of the first Lalaport at Tokyo Bay this year. Growth has really accelerated in the last decade with a four fold increase in tenants and three fold growth in income and operating profit. FY2015 will be its busiest year ever with five SCs opening in Japan and two overseas.
Going forward, as well as its large scale SCs, Mitsui will develop more small scale buildings in the capital, including in Ginza, Shibuya and Omotesando. It will invest a total of ¥1.5 trillion in new builds between 2015-2018, including office and residential developments. In terms of tenancies, Mitsui continues to rebalance the mix away from dependence on fashion, adding in more experience-led entertainment.
FOCUS: Leading shopping centres upgrade their way to 3.9% jump in sales in 2014-15
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