Fri, Jul 23, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Cashbox uses two-pronged approach

NEW CROONERS The nation's leading karaoke chain hopes some new attractions will bring in clients from both the high and low end of the income spectrum

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cashbox Partyworld KTV (錢櫃), a leading karaoke chain, will open four piano bar-styled rooms in its Hsimenting outlet early next year in a bid to attract a better class of client as the nation's karaoke market is facing saturation, company officials said yesterday.

The VIP rooms, now under construction, will sit on the top floor of the Taipei outlet facing Chunghua Road, according to Michael Hsiao (蕭森寶), chief executive officer of Cashbox.

He said no karaoke services will be provided in order to create five-star social atmosphere.

"This will be a perfect place for dignitaries or high-tech professionals to relax or discuss business," Hsiao said after a press conference yesterday called to announce the launch of a credit card issued by Cashbox and Fubon Commercial Bank (富邦銀行).

He denied media speculation that the VIP rooms, equipped with pianists and cooks and accessed by exclusive elevators, will have to be priced as high as NT$15,000 per hour to be profitable.

However, "The cost of three to five hours in the rooms may be more than NT$10,000," he said.

"We want to attract all kinds of customers, including those who do not like singing," Hsiao said.

While the new rooms will target the elite, Cashbox yesterday moved to consolidate its customer base by attracting white-collar workers. It launched the nation's first KTV co-brand credit card, which offers a 5 percent cash rebate on money spent in its 19 outlets nationwide.

Hsiao said the company hopes to issue 500,000 cards within one season.

"On top of Fubon's 2.5 million credit cards in circulation, we hope to translate some of its cardholders into our card customers," Hsiao said.

Fubon holds less than a 10 percent share in Cashbox.

Even though it targets a different market from its major rival, Holiday Entertainment Co (好樂迪娛樂事業), which has 58 outlets, Cashbox feels there is little room left in the market for expansion and therefore different customer categories must be maximized.

"Taiwan's KTV market is saturated. We have no plans to open new outlets by the end of the year" said Eric Leu (呂嘉正), a spokesman for Cashbox.

But its seventh outlet in China will open soon in Hangzhou, Leu said.

Most of Cashbox's 19 outlets occupy an entire building, with a spacious lobby on the first floor, and mainly cater to residents in cities.

Eyeing the boom season when students spend more time in KTV parlors, both chains are offering promotional programs to stimulate business.

"The co-branded credit card is one of the incentives. We expect to achieve NT$5.5 billion in annual sales," Leu said.

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