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Phuket now has a world class shopping hub

Tim Newton

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by Tim Newton

The population of Thailand is around 70 million people. I think most of them were at the opening night of the new Central Floresta on September 10.

As far as openings go this must have put a smile on the Central owners and management involved in bringing this new shopping experience to fruition – it was a triumph in every respect.

If you were driving past over the weekend you must have thought, as I did, that there was no way the new shining light of the Central Pattana Group was possibly going to be ready. Little did we know that the hard work was all happening behind the facade and once the scaffolding came down on Sunday, voila, there it was.

Phuket now has a (sorry, I’m going to use the hackneyed phrase) world class shopping precinct in the heart of the island. A ‘central’ retail district to rival anything else in Thailand, outside Bangkok. Surely the intersection will now continue to attract more investment and the area will evolve into the island’s premier shopping zone – clearly this is the plan and what Central Pattana are hoping for.

Everything about the new Central Floresta is well above predictions – from the parking (there’s plenty), the range of stores, the excellent food court, the imaginative design, the decor, lighting – it’s all outstanding. Particularly pleasing is the integration, just about everywhere you look, of ‘Thainess’ but with a Phuket flavour. The Peranakan architectural motifs adorn the food court, the lofty statues and sculptures are highly imaginative and add spectacle to the open spaces.

Whilst some of the better-known luxury brands are missing at the moment there are still plenty of high-end luxury brands and a few new ones as well.

I am sure we will be calling the two sides of the road ‘the old Central’ and ‘the new Central’ in the short-term, but can imagine there will be a time when the two will morph into one precinct we’ll simply call ‘Central’.

Phuket went a few notches up the retail ladder yesterday when the new store opened its doors. Apart from Thailand’s best beaches, the island can now boast an international shopping precinct as a key attraction – it was lacking in the past with Patong’s Jungceylon looking tired and Central Festival in need of a modern interpretation. The retail scene is changing a lot faster than developers seem to be able to cope with.

For the ‘locals’ who yearn for the Phuket of old – the little Thai tropical paradise with the cheap bars and tacky beach restaurants – it’s long gone and it’s not coming back. Thailand’s largest companies and biggest investors are spending big and the biggest international brands keep coming, investing in new projects, raising the stakes and the quality of the island’s offerings.

In the next few years we have the opening of one of the most spectacular water theme parks in Asia opening up (Blue Tree in Cherng Talay), a classy new Mandarin Hotel at Laem Singh on the west coast, the opening of the MontAzure properties at Kamala and a list of other new developments currently pending announcement – all taking Phuket up a notch.

Phuket now has a world class shopping hub | News by Thaiger

The new food hall on the lower floor is immense with something for every budget and taste. And a floating market!

Phuket will never be the same; it’s growing and evolving into an urban island for tourists – the ‘Hawaii of South East Asia’ (as I heard someone describe it last night – thanks Harry). If you really want to live the 1990’s Phuket you can still find a similar lifestyle north of the island, down around Trang, parts of Krabi or even up around the northern parts of Phuket. But the island is now on a one-way trajectory to become Thailand’s most recognised international brand.

So congratulations Central Pattana for having the vision and coming up with something we can all enjoy and that tourists will appreciate. Floresta is a welcome addition and will surely encourage other shopping zones on the island to invest and catch up, otherwise be left behind.

But wait, there’s more coming. The new shopping precinct has three themed attractions to open yet and an enormous Aquarium as well.

Check out Floresta but leave yourself a morning or afternoon – there’s plenty to absorb.

We were at the opening yesterday when the shutters went up…

Central Floresta is open. We were there.

PHUKETIt’s open. We were at the new Central Floresta in the opening moments.

Posted by The Thaiger on Sunday, September 9, 2018

 

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

Business

Government will not re-capitalise struggling Thai Airways

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Wikimedia

The State Enterprise Policy Office says the government will not back a billion-baht cash injection for Thai Airways. The national airline is currently been dragged through bankruptcy proceedings.

Pantip Sripimol from the SEPO says the Thai Finance Ministry will not re-capitalise the carrier, although it remains its largest shareholder. The Bangkok Post reports that there are concerns Thai Airways could become a state enterprise once more if the ministry were to assume a majority stake once more.

Last September, the Finance Ministry reduced its stake in the national airline to less than 50%, in an effort to facilitate the debt-rehabilitation process. As a result, the carrier is no longer a state-owned enterprise and it’s understood a number of cabinet ministers are concerned that, should the airline regain its status as a state enterprise, the government would have to guarantee a billion-baht loan to ensure its survival.

The Bangkok Post reports that both the Finance Minister, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, and Deputy PM, Supattanapong Punmeechaow, both support re-establishing the airline as a state enterprise. They argue that doing so would improve its financial situation and provide more leverage for negotiating with creditors. Such a move would mean the Finance Ministry becoming a majority shareholder once again.

As it is, the airline’s bankruptcy proceedings have been taken up with renegotiating with creditors – mostly aircraft lessees. The majority of Thai Airways’ fleet remains grounded and gathering dust, parked at Suvarnabhumi airport.

However, Pantip says the ministry will not re-capitalise the airline and is prepared to reduce its shareholding if other investors purchased additional shares. The ministry currently has a 49.9% stake in Thai Airways, with Pantip saying it would be difficult to justify a further cash injection to shareholders.

With the airline now operating as a private business, the government is no longer obliged to prop it up monetarily, nor is the Finance Ministry obliged to offer financial help to a private company, despite being its largest shareholder.

On Wednesday, creditors will meet to discuss the airline’s debt restructuring plan and decide if they are to accept it.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Business

Thailand jumps on the electric bandwagon, aims to become EV production hub

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr / JCT 600

The Thai government has ambitious plans to turn the Kingdom into a Southeast Asian hub for the manufacture of electric vehicles. Nikkei Asia reports that big companies in Thailand are preparing to invest substantially in the greener mode of transport, after the National Electric Vehicle Policy Committee suggested a new manufacturing target could mean half of Thailand’s auto-production is made up of electric vehicles by 2030.

The message to car manufacturers and energy suppliers is to grab this opportunity to invest in the necessary infrastructure to support electric vehicles, as the number of drivers using such cars is expected to rise significantly. The Thailand Board of Investment says that between 2017 and 2019, investment in EV production and its infrastructure reached 79 billion baht. That figure is expected to rise at a much quicker rate over the next 3 years.

According to the Nikkei Asia report, Toyota was the first car manufacturer to make EVs in the Kingdom, with Chinese manufacturers becoming more competitive in recent years. The latest Chinese firm to join the EV revolution is Great Wall Motor, which plans to launch electric vehicles this year. The number of EV manufacturers in Thailand is also growing, but Surapong Phaisitpattanapong from the Federation of Thai Industries’ Automotive Industry Club says they still need to overcome serious supply chain challenges. He says manufacturers of the traditional internal combustion engine now find themselves trying to supply parts for electric vehicles, including batteries, motors and converters.

“It’s all about the economy of scale. If the number of EV users goes up substantially, it would be worth investing, and everyone, including auto parts makers, would be ready to switch to producing EV parts, and that would create supply chains that are ready for the development of EVs, but it will take time.”

Surapong points out that the government hasn’t provided enough subsidies to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles, saying there needs to be more of an incentive to deliver the sales boost needed.

“We think there should be a more direct subsidy for EV buyers to promote EVs, but we haven’t seen the government issue any kind of subsidies like that yet.”

SOURCE: Nikkei Asia

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pfizer sees 45% increase in net income and revenue, as critics point to disparity in global vaccine availability

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Stock photo via Flickr

After seeing a 45% increase in net income from last year, Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant, is largely increasing its projected profits for this year. And, the increase is undoubtedly due to the high amount of Covid-19 vaccine sales, in which the company says is shaping up to provide a “durable” revenue stream.

The company says this year’s first quarter profits featured almost 1/4 of sales coming from the Covid vaccines. As it is teaming with German partner BioNTech, the company is set to increase its vaccine production, putting it on track to see US$26 billion in revenues from the vaccine this year. The new number-crunching is an increase from the US$15 million that was projected in February of this year.

But the profits are triggering criticism as governments are feeling pressured to ensure vaccines are available in poorer countries. Chief Executive Albert Bourla, says the company is holding dialogues with “basically all governments of the world,” and it is awaiting approval from the US for 12 to 15 year olds to be able to receive the jab.

The company is also studying the efficacy of giving inoculations, or boosters, every 6 or more months after the second dose- in a move that signals even more profits on the horizon. Bourla says this scenario would allow the company to be both a leader and a financial beneficiary.

“It is our hope that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will continue to have a global impact by helping to get the devastating pandemic under control and helping economies around the world not only open, but stay open.”

But last month, World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, cited a “shocking imbalance in the global distribution of vaccines” and emphasised that the WHO’s Covax programmes must be fortified soon to allow poorer nations to gain access to the inoculations.

Zain Rizvi, a law and policy researcher at progressive Public Citizen advocacy group, says Pfizer’s increase in profits show the need for governments to take action to save lives.

“Pfizer is cashing in on the crisis and hoarding technology, even as billions of people around the world go without a vaccine. Pfizer’s profiteering shows the urgent need for governments to step-in. Governments should require Pfizer to share technology with manufacturers around the world to help ramp up global production.”

Pfizer has defended its vaccine pricing policy, saying it has moderated the cost to encourage broad access through the pandemic phase that could continue into the year 2022. But with a net income increasing by 45%, at US$4.9 billion over the past year and revenues jumping the same percentage to US$14.6 billion, critics point towards the continued disparity of vaccine availability between poor and rich countries. Pfizer’s shares have also increased by .3% to US$39.95.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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