Sri Lanka’s John Keells Holdings postpones Crescat refurbishment on Dec sales

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s John Keells Holdings (JKH) has decided to postpone the decision to refurbish the Crescat shopping mall due to rising sales in the ongoing Christmas and New Year season, a top official said.

“After the April attacks the sales of the shops in the mall fell but we can see an increase in sales in this month due to the Christmas season,” Property Group President Suresh Rajendra said.

He said 10 percent of shops in the mall closed following the consumer spending squeeze following the Easter Sunday attacks. One of the bombings took place next door to Crescat, at the JKH hotel Cinnamon Grand.

“The remaining clients struggled with their sales until November,” Rajendra said.

JKH had accommodated its clients by waiving off rental prices for three months and discounting rates until November.

Rajendra said the group had planned to close the mall in February for refurbishments, but due to an expected growth in sales in Christmas and New Year, the renovations have been postponed until a fresh decision is taken.

The new government which came into power in November has introduced widespread tax cuts, putting more cash in the hands of the consumer in a bid to stimulate stagnant growth through consumption.

Some Crescat occupants had been surprised at JKH’s decision to ask them to vacate the premises in 3-months for renovations, as they were earlier told that they could continue business while refurbishments continued, the local English newspaper Daily Mirror reported.

As the mall is over 20-years old, it is a matter of when, not if, to refurbish, Rajendra said.

Rajendra said tenders have been called to refurbish the mall, which is expected to last six months once it begins.

As sales have normalized, rentals have been brought back to normal levels, he said.

“We plan to re-position all the shops because we want to compete with the new malls in the country. We do not plan to remain in the same position as we are now after the refurbishment.”

He said the Crescat mall is 60,000 square feet space that cannot compete with newer malls that have multiples more in shopping space.

“We have like a one fifth of what other malls have. So we want to manage that place to the fullest”

He further said that there is no guarantee for the shop owners in the Crescat mall presently, will get a place after the re-opening.

“If anyone wants to have a space in the new Crescat they will have to re-negotiate with the Crescat Management.” Rajendra said. (Colombo/ Dec17/ 2019)

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