Tue, 22 Aug 2000

Ratu Plaza to reopen again after five years

JAKARTA (JP): Ratu Plaza shopping center, a popular mall in the 1980s, is back in business again after being empty for some five years.

In the past few weeks carpenters and interior shop designers have been working busily on newly rented shops in the 20-year-old building.

Linawati Djohan, marketing manager of PT Ratu Sayang International, which owns and manages the shopping center, said the grand opening of the "new" Ratu Plaza has been set for the middle of next month.

"The current occupancy rate is already 90 percent," Linawati told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Business actually began in July following the soft opening.

According to Linawati, the location of the four-story Ratu Plaza in one of the city's thriving business locales on Jl. Sudirman "offers a convenient destination for shoppers in South Jakarta."

Under the new layout, visitors will find fashion outlets and beauty saloons at ground level and on the first floor.

Furniture stores dominate the second floor and computer shops are located on the top floor.

In the 1980s, Ratu Plaza was very popular among discriminating shoppers as the prestigious mall was one of a few "modern" shopping centers with "super expensive" merchandise.

"You could see many noted figures, from top actresses to ministers, shopping at the plaza at the time," one patron recalled.

Its popularity began to fade about 1995 due to the mushrooming number of competitors.

An engineering consultant, T. Meliala, stopped by to find out if the mall had been reopened.

"This place was very famous in the 80s," Meliala recalled, adding that it had been a popular place for people to hang out, particularly young ones.

"There used to be a food mart in the basement that sold delicious food. I used to go there a lot," Meliala said.

In its heyday, Ratu Plaza was home to exclusive shops selling brand-name fashion items, jewelry, electronic goods, furniture, and hobby crafts.

During the mid 1990s, Ratu Plaza started to lose its tenants, one by one, including Matahari department store, Benetton fashion house and Gunung Agung bookstore.


According to retail expert, Suryadharma Ali, the unfavorable situation faced by the tenants in 1995 was mainly due to the failure of the shopping center's management in anticipating the rapid growth of similar businesses.

But Linawati said, "the plaza is now ready to compete with other shopping complexes in the city."

Interviewed by the Post recently, several tenants of the new Ratu Plaza disclosed that business was still slow since the soft opening some two months ago.

Liana, manager of the Bear House toy store, which opened July 28, said sales so far had been relatively low compared to her outlets at Ciputra and Taman Anggrek shopping malls in West Jakarta.

"We rented this space because there was no vacancy at any other shopping malls and we think it is unlikely for a new mall to be built in Jakarta in the near future," she said.

Her comment was echoed by manager of CBM Computer and Notebook Center, Herry Sukanto.

"Our outlet at Gajah Mada Plaza has more customers," Herry said, referring to a shopping center in Kota area that also suffered depressed business activity a few years ago.

Several tenants have questioned the motive of the building's owner to isolate the mall's primary tenant, Carrefour, already busy with customers, from their shops.

According to them, the separation denies Carrefour customers access to their shops.

Some tenants believe their sales will improve after the September grand opening.

"We offer prices almost the same as our rivals in Glodok and Mangga Dua. So, we're here to serve customers who refuse to deal with macet (traffic jam) and the crowds of people at those two areas," a proprietor of a computer shop said. (jaw/bsr)