June 21, 2023
The Ground Market Retail Innovation

The most innovative retail project to enter the market in recent times, the Ground Market is an elevated, next-generation community mall, with roots within much loved local markets but executed to a level seen in Thailand – a first of its kind in Cambodia.

By the start of 2023, the total existing retail supply in Phnom Penh reached over 7,000 000 sqm net leasable area (NLA) while 2022 saw the biggest growth in this space on record. Retail malls and outlets are seeing experiencing a boom in Cambodia’s capital.

Among the types of malls entering the market, The Mall Company said in a recent report that the ‘community mall’ class of retail asset has been particularly popular, while green spaces remain in demand and retailment will be a key innovator in attracting shoppers to the new retail spaces.

The Ground Market in Koh Norea, Phnom Penh has managed to strike a balance and promises to be the “ultimate speciality market experience for the community,” while encompassed in the integration of a well-designed green space.

The Ground Market – Koh Norea

The contractors of The Ground Market, TDB Projects, say the project “lies somewhere between a traditional market, retail mall and an urban park, and offers the best of all of these types of space, doing this in a way that represents modern Cambodia culture and urban development”.

Located in Koh Norea Village in the Chbar Ampov District, the new mall is located in front of CIA International School.

The area has seen rapid changes with the reclaimed land and the Koh Norea Satellite City development expected to generate countless jobs and increase the value of surrounding land and other developments in Chbar Ampov. The development has also seen the addition of an OCIC $40 million bridge to connect Nirouth with Koh Pich (Diamond Island) to ease traffic congestion.

On the opportunities in the area, Daniel Jury from TDB Projects adds that “The Ground Market is accessible due to its layout and location as well as the fact that it supports regional small businesses and vendors rather than multinational brands and tenants, in comparison to other malls. Market sellers and vendors have options to conduct business in a modern retail setting that is difficult to find elsewhere in Phnom Penh. So in a sense, it’s a more democratic urban space. The emphasis on and integration of green space is also key in creating an urban oasis and encouraging visitors in a quickly developing city.

The Mall Company (TMC) Managing Director, Simon Griffiths says “Rather than targeting a crowded upper-middle market positioning, The Ground Market innovates and elevates a mid-to-low mass market positioning in style allowing them to tap into the under-supplied mass market.”

“The Ground Market is the most innovative retail project to enter the market in recent times. The development team have succinctly understood the nature of providing visitors with an exciting experience, environment and entertainment mixed with an on-point tenant mix and mass market price point. As a result, The Ground Market is resonating with the public and large crowds are being attracted on a daily basis” added Griffiths.

He adds “I would categorise the project as an elevated, next-generation community mall, although it has roots within much loved local markets and night markets but executed to a level seen in Thailand but a first of its kind in Cambodia.”

The Ground Market intends to be very community focussed and promote local/speciality crafts & sellers.

Green Spaces in Phnom Penh

The capital has been screaming for more green spaces and oases which are very limited and made less so by the recent closing for development of the Odom Park.

A recent article from shiftcities suggests that “80% of cities worldwide now face extreme climate-related events, and more than 1.4 billion people living in the world’s largest urban centres are threatened by natural hazards.” It also adds that all stakeholders have a role to play in “scaling up urban nature-based solutions, and partnerships are key to amplifying their benefits.”

The Ground Market has been developed to serve the local community but also offer a unique retail experience. “The development is unique in Phnom Penh, and whilst it brings together other existing elements of the current retail landscape the curated combination of these elevates it beyond the sum of its parts into a successful placemaking exercise, that serves and benefits the general urban fabric,” said Jury.

The mall is fully operational and shoppers can expect an extensive food court that focuses on Khmer food, while market stalls, local retailers as well as events and entertainment offer weekly attractions with live shows catering to the retail market. There are also free activities and games to be found throughout the green space.

The Retail Landscape in Phnom Penh

With the future of Community Malls, Retail Arcades and Retail Podium retail spaces in the city quickly changing, adapting and competing, how will The Ground Market stand out?

Jury explains “From our perspective (TDB-Projects) we’re very happy to have had the opportunity to be involved with delivering The Ground Market. We were involved in some of the early planning and prototyping of certain elements so we appreciate the commitment and detail that has gone into the planning of it all. As a contractor, it was great to contribute in bringing fantastic and innovative concepts into fruition.”

Griffiths expands on this and said “What The Ground Market does very well is combine providing an experience, fun and excitement within an enjoyable environment that offers a wide range of food and drinks at affordable prices for the mass market.

With this achieved, The Ground Market becomes a place for everybody, be it families with children, students, parents, or grandparents – it is accessible to all. In this sense, The Ground Market becomes almost a public space that can be enjoyed by anyone to relax, meet friends, eat, drink, and listen to music. It in some small way enriches the lives of those who use it. Spaces such as The Ground Market, which are relatively rare in Phnom Penh, are increasingly important.”

Does The Ground Market Offer an Innovative ‘Retailtainment’ Culture?
The Mall Company has outlined in its previous market assessments and reports that the malls which engage in and invest in actual “retailment” will stand out.

Griffiths said that The Ground Market has focussed on attention to detail which is evident as soon you enter the space. “Real care and attention has been given to even the smallest detail and it really shows. One small design detail does not make much of a difference, but when you put together all the small design details and features, the cumulative effect on the customer is significant and that is translating into attracting lots of visitors every day, but importantly, those visitors are going back again and again and that is the sign of a successful retail project.

It is partly due to the adoption of ‘retailtainment’ concepts at The Ground Market, such as garden walkways, tree houses, elevated tree-lined walkways, and an event garden but also the flow as the public areas ease from one area to another with gentle curves and through gardens and different spaces which leads you on a journey from one place to another. It has been executed (and innovated) very well.”

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