Eslite Spectrum Corp (誠品生活), which runs the Eslite bookstore chain in Taiwan and abroad, yesterday inked an agreement with Malaysia’s YTL Corp Bhd to open a branch in downtown Kuala Lumpur in 2022.
The two sides signed the partnership via a teleconference to launch the Taiwanese bookstore brand in YTL’s mixed-use property The Starhill in Bukit Bintang, a central business district in the Malaysian capital.
Despite the company’s aim to grow its business abroad, Eslite Spectrum chairwoman Mercy Wu (吳旻潔) said that she was initially hesitant about expanding to Malaysia when the world was in the grip of a pandemic.
“I decided to take the step at the urging of YTL Corp, the largest conglomerate in Malaysia whose founder, Yeoh Tiong Lay (楊忠禮), was an immigrant from Kinmen and had long supported Chinese culture and education,” Wu told a news conference in Taipei.
Joseph Yeoh (楊恭賢), vice president of YTL hotels and property wing, said from Kuala Lumpur he was confident that Eslite would succeed in Malaysia, as many people there would still prefer in-person shopping once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
YTL has a global footprint with nine shopping malls in different parts of the world and the collaboration with Eslite could lead to other partnerships in the future, Joseph Yeoh said.
“We will first focus on the current project,” he said.
The upcoming flagship Eslite branch at The Starhill would be a 2,000 ping (6,600m2) space featuring a bookstore, as well as retail, food and beverage sections, Wu said.
A Taiwanese team is in charge of its interior design, in line with the company’s mission to integrate the humanities, arts and creativity into life, Wu said.
“Our initial hesitation stemmed from our insistence on doing the best we can to live up to a reputation of being the top cultural brand across Chinese societies,” Wu said.
Kuala Lumpur, dubbed the World Book Capital City by the UN, is an ideal destination for expansion, as Malaysia has topped the list of foreign visitors from Southeast Asia for the past 10 years, she said.
Malaysians have long embraced cultural diversity, with Chinese constituting the second-largest ethnic group, making Malaysia a major export market for Taiwanese books, she added.
The new Eslite branch is expected to help drive cultural tourism in Malaysia and benefit the two partners, Wu and Yeoh said.
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