Taipei Times: What Taipei 101 Mall tenants have already signed on the dotted line and what big names do you have under your belt?
Simon Van de Velde: Taipei 101 will house 161 shops when complete. As of last Friday we have signed contracts with 142 fashion, food, gift and accessory shops. This represents 88 percent of the shop space. We have issued contracts on a further 8 percent of the total number of shops. We expect those contracts to be returned in the next two to three weeks. This would bring the total to 96 percent.
This may sound like a great success but the reality is that with six months until opening this is exactly where we need to be, we are not behind the program, but at the same time we are not ahead. Taipei 101 will be the home of a number of retailers that are new to Taiwan. The fabulous food emporium in B1 can be described as a premium-end supermarket.
The business has been planned in conjunction with the Dairy Farmers group -- who own Wellcome supermarkets. This incredible food area will showcase fresh and prepared produce in a fashion never seen before in Taiwan. Those who love freshness, quality, exotic produce, fine wine and other culinary delights will be right at home at Jason's Market Place [the concept store's trading name.]
This 800 ping store will fast become a favorite with "foodies" all over Taipei City.
On Level 1, known as "Main Street" you will find 34 of the regions most popular brands including the largest Mango, Espirit and Bennetton stores, along with the Dickson group's Sisley, Kenneth Cole and Tommy Hilfiger. On Level 2, "The Designer Walk," will be the home of the boutique department store [Sogo.] This floor will be heavily supported by the brands controlled by Fairton International, who have committed six brands including Marina Rinaldi, Gaultier, Kookai and I Blues.
On Level 3, our "Galleries Couture" floor is where -- and we are very proud to announce this -- Louis Vuitton, Celine and Loewe will be.
We are in final negotiations with another 10 super-brands which we hope to announce shortly. I am glad that we are talking about our luxury floor, I know that there are a lot of rumors about Taipei 101 and Shin Kong Mitsukoshi also located in the Hsinyi District. It is true that we are both after a similar segment of the market, i.e., high luxury.
The reason that I know Taipei 101 will prevail is because luxury customers want what we, and we alone can provide. That is a comprehensive and complete luxury fashion offer, located in superb international class surroundings with convenient proximity to high-quality dining. The fact is that our luxury floor can accommodate 20 to 25 luxury brands, all with equal exposure; our competitors' luxury floor can only accommodate four to six.
And finally, Level 4 in "City Square" is the jewel in the mall's architectural crown. The space is truly awe inspiring. It will become an internationally renowned public space. Principal architect C.Y. Lee and partners have created something that will rival the great public spaces of the world. In a retail context it will eclipse the well-known Land Mark building public space in Hong Kong. At a local level it will be far beyond the public spaces in Core Pacific Mall, in terms of size ambience, style and purpose. The "City Square" will be home to the Page One bookstore that will occupy an 800 ping location. The store will be another first for Taiwan and Taipei 101.