Copyright © Gamuda Berhad

Taking on down under

Ryan Mok 

Gamuda Land’s 661 Chapel St.

In 2015, Gamuda Land entered the Australian market with 661 Chapel St. in Melbourne as part of our strategic business plan of growing local versus foreign sales contribution to a 50:50 ratio, balancing out our Ringgit vs non-Ringgit revenue. The decision to enter the Melbourne market came naturally due to similarities in terms of demographics – sizeable South East Asian community and business practices such as legal and taxation systems.  

We caught up with Mr. Ngan Chee Meng – Chief Executive Officer of Gamuda Land to share his views having led our property arm in the overseas market (Vietnam, Singapore and Australia) in the last fifteen years. Mr Ngan shared that culture, regulatory requirements, and customers’ profile differ in these three market segments. 

“In Malaysia, most of our buyers prefer link-houses and apartments in well-planned townships with parks and good amenities nearby. Whereas in Australia, it is a challenge to do this, mainly because of the regulatory situation whereby buyers pay 10% and nothing more until the completion of the development. Regulations like this require a high upfront investment, and we can only recoup at the end of the project. That’s why, we do smaller-scale developments in Australia that suit the local Australian culture and market needs,” said Mr. Ngan. 

“Vietnam is a more open market, and we need to understand the intricacies of the culture and business practices. For instance, the Vietnamese prefer cash purchases rather than going through the local banking system. It is common to handover bare looking homes without the final finishing as the Vietnamese buyers prefer to put their own touch into the final design of their homes.”

“Hence, it is imperative that we understand the market and our buyers’ profiles thoroughly to deliver projects that suit their demands. Above all, staying true to our DNA of ‘listening to what the land has to tell us’, we’ve thoughtfully incorporated biophilic designs, greenery and parks as well as good amenities into our design and planning.” 

On growth opportunity in Melbourne, Mr. Ngan said the end of COVID-19 lockdowns had led economists to predict a resilient market despite figures showing the market cooling down this year, particularly with re-emerging offshore interest and the arrival of more international students as a result of border reopening. Demand for well-designed properties is also increasing as the country adapts to the endemic stage.  

Artist impression of Normanby’s al fresco zone.

Post-pandemic, closer connectivity to shops, parks and public transportation are key considerations for property purchasers. There is also an increase in demand for adaptive layouts for multifunctional space.  

Mr. Ngan excitedly shared about our upcoming mixed-use development – the newly acquired parcel at 272 Normanby Road – South Melbourne’s largest urban renewal precinct – Fishermen’s Bend.  

Our project vision is to have biophilic designs for Norman by, connecting homeowners to nature coupled with a rooftop garden, solar energy and efficient floor plans for an optimised maintenance. The development will also enjoy a picturesque view of a future park, to be built by Gamuda Land.  

With the aim to expand further, we are actively looking for strategic acquisitions with smaller scale en-bloc developments in Melbourne and Sydney, targeting one new project per year in the next five years. 

Over to our colleagues in Australia, Jarrod Tai, Assistant General Manager for Projects and Developments said, “One of Gamuda Land’s core strengths is its strong brand ethos towards Environmental, Social and Governance initiatives.” 

“In my work I’ve encountered business partners, government authorities, buyers and new team members that have been strongly drawn by Gamuda Land’s track record in this space. I believe that being ambassadors for Gamuda Land’s ESG initiatives is a powerful way for us to attract the required ingredients for success in our work and for the group in Australia and globally,” he added. 

Christina Wong, Assistant Manager for Sales and Marketing talks about her journey on completing 661 Chapel Street.  “To establish our presence, keeping abreast with the latest on-ground market intelligence and speaking with the local team is integral. Being a self-starter, this helped me look ahead through standing out by creating a point of difference. As for coping in a new country, I believe in always being proud of our Malaysian roots, capabilities and always be genuine to everyone,” Wong said modestly. 
Wong concluded, “The ESG efforts reflected in our Normanby project of having a park right at the doorstep will meet the needs of a post-COVID lifestyle. The integration of ground source heat pump technology into the development will also greatly enhance Gamuda Land’s brand image as a group that provides tangible, sustainable and innovative solutions.”

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