KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 15): Aeon Co (M) Bhd expects the second half of this year and 2017 to remain challenging, but it remains confident of charting business growth for the group.
Speaking to reporters at a briefing today, Aeon executive director Poh Ying Loo said although consumer sentiment remains weak, the impact of the goods and services tax (GST) — implemented in April 2015 — has lessened, compared with a year ago.
"The second half and next year will still be challenging. However, we see some encouraging signs, post-GST. There will definitely be growth [for the company]," he said.
Poh said Aeon has no plans to retrench staff or close any of its malls, despite the challenging times ahead.
Instead, Aeon will be opening another shopping mall in Johor Baru next year, in addition to the three it has opened this year.
In addition, Aeon will be opening their first Aeon Mall in East Malaysia in 2017.
Poh also added that Aeon will be selective and cautious in its expansion.
Aeon Mid Valley officially reopens today, after a six-month renovation which costs RM50 million.
Poh said it should take the company four to five years to recoup its investment on the refurbishment.
On its partnership with Qualitas Medical Group Sdn Bhd to offer clinical healthcare services at Aeon Wellness outlets, Aeon executive director Hiroyuki Kotera said the company is in the midst of discussions to open more stores.
Its first store in Cheras Selatan has received good response from customers.
"In the next two years, we will plan to increase more of these clinics in all the stores and outlets," he said.
However, he declined to elaborate on the number of Aeon Wellness outlets that will have the new concept and the timeline for opening new stores.
Aeon launched its first new concept store with a clinic last month. The supermarket chain said then having a pharmacy and clinic alongside each other will prove to be an appreciated convenience.
Qualitas' clinic medical personnel at the clinic are certified to treat general ailments, follow up on chronic illnesses and perform minor surgical procedures. The clinic also offers vaccinations, occupational health services and general medical screenings.
The clinic occupies up to 1,000 sq ft at the Cheras Selatan Aeon Wellness, which has a floor space of up to 5,000 sq ft.
It was reported previously that Aeon plans to expand specialty shops to 150 or more in the next three years. Aeon is said to be looking to expand its furniture store chain Aeon Index Living mall and will also consider opening Malaysian branches of the Japanese group's pet shops, sporting goods stores and gyms.
Aeon's net profit jumped 21.8% year-on-year (y-o-y) to RM19.08 million in the second quarter ended June 30, 2016 (2QFY16) from RM15.66 million. Meanwhile, revenue gained 20.2% y-o-y to RM974.77 million from RM811.1 million.
AEONCR (5139) - AEON sees encouraging signs post-GST, confident of growth
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