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CMT to give additional rental relief to SME tenants; CapitaLand accelerates China digitalisation push

Image 1_CapitaStar Star Live Studio.jpg
CapitaLand group China president Lucas Loh (second man from right), touring a Star Live Studio at Hongkou Plaza, Shanghai. CapitaLand has held more than 50 livestream sales with over 100 retailers via the Star Live Studio feature on CapitaStar’s WeChat account, attracting over 400,000 viewers.

CAPITALAND Mall Trust (CMT) expects to provide additional rental relief of up to one month of rental or other forms of rental assistance for June to small and medium enterprise (SME) tenants that do not qualify for help under a new rental relief law.

This is on top of rental waivers or deferrals it is giving qualifying SME tenants for June, following the passing of amendments to the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act on Friday that will see landlords waive up to two months of base rent for eligible tenants that have suffered significant losses due to the pandemic.

The real estate investment trust's (Reit) manager said in a bourse filing on Monday that it expects to provide the extra relief to non-qualifying tenants "in view of the phased approach towards safe-reopening of businesses post-'circuit breaker'".

These tenants have businesses that are either restricted from operating or materially affected by Covid-19, it added.

The Reit manager said it was unable to ascertain the impact of the pandemic and resulting regulatory measures - including the provision of rental assistance - on its financial performance and operations for the year.

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Separately, property developer CapitaLand said on Monday that it will boost its recovery in China with a digitalisation strategy to cope with the "new normal" post-pandemic.

It is accelerating the onboarding of tenants in its malls, offices, business parks and industrial properties onto the e-commerce platform of CapitaStar, its lifestyle and loyalty app.

This will drive cross-border online sales by creating an ecosystem of homeowners, shoppers and tenants, it said.

CapitaStar has over 10 million members in China and over a million members in Singapore.

CapitaLand reduced CapitaStar’s platform fees and simplified the onboarding process in February. Over 1,100 Chinese retailers have since been onboarded, with some 3,000 more in the pipeline.

Online sales on CapitaStar helped CapitaLand mall tenants expand their geographical reach, with 45 per cent of CapitaStar’s gross merchandise value attributed to shoppers outside the stores’ cities, the developer said.

CapitaStar’s online retail sales in May were 6.5 times higher than in March, it added.

The CapitaStar platform currently lists over 60,000 stock keeping units, some of which can be picked up in physical stores in addition to home delivery, which can drive footfall to CapitaLand malls.

The group has also ramped up online and offline shopping experiences on CapitaStar, such as livestream sales. A May 22 livestream jointly held by 10 CapitaLand malls in eastern China generated over one million yuan (S$196,800) tenant sales in eight hours, the company said.

Tenants’ employees have also started to provide timely shopping assistance and hold daily promotions via CapitaStar’s WeChat account.

Earlier in March, CapitaLand launched a “Homes” feature on CapitaStar’s WeChat account catering to house hunters in China. Over 2,700 viewing appointments were booked through the feature by end May, it said.

From January to May, the developer sold more than 1,400 residential units worth about four billion yuan. About half of these sales were achieved in May.

To drive additional sales, CapitaLand has rolled out its “Next-Ten” retail concept stores across eight China malls. It also launched its eCapitaMall and Capita3Eats features on the CapitaStar app in Singapore on June 1.

The  “Next-Ten” stores use data insights and social media marketing to support participating retailers in making sales 24/7 online and offline without space constraints.

They have helped participating retailers achieve an 11 per cent increase in sales on average in the past year.

In Singapore, eCapitaMall and Capita3Eats, which were launched on June 1, complement storefront sales. 

eCapitaMall is a digital mall that lets shoppers browse online before purchasing in-store, or browse in-store before purchasing online, while Capita3Eats is a food-ordering platform that lets consumers order delivery, takeaway or dine-in at eateries in CapitaLand malls.

CapitaLand group chief executive Lee Chee Koon said that the pandemic's disruption to  traditional supply chains worldwide presented "a unique opportunity for CapitaLand and (its) ecosystem partners to create new business models and find new channels of sales and distribution".

CapitaLand group China president Lucas Loh added it was "imperative" for the real estate player to have its own digital platform to engage customers in China's competitive digital economy, beyond mitigating the short-term impact of Covid-19.

The CapitaStar platform would help create "a scalable digital ecosystem that supports the group’s long-term growth", he added.

CMT units were trading at S$2.04 as at 9.15am on Monday after the announcement, down S$0.01 or 0.5 per cent. Shares of CapitaLand were trading at S$2.98, down S$0.02 or 0.7 per cent.

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