Toppen is fast taking shape in JB

It was just 15 months ago when I witnessed the announcement on the development of Toppen Shopping Centre by officials of IKEA Southeast Asia and I’m here again to see for myself how this building is taking shape.

My view through this window is no longer a
construction site but the facade of Toppen Shopping Centre!
I’m ushered into the back-of-the-house (not the retail floor) of IKEA Tebrau, back to the same room where we first gathered for the announcement of Toppen Shopping Centre which is anchored by IKEA Tebrau, the first IKEA store outside the Klang Valley.

In this room, my eyes are riveted to its glass-paneled windows where I saw through to the towering cranes on the construction site some 15 months ago, but now this is being replaced by the fa├žade of the Toppen Shopping Centre!

With its seamless integration with IKEA Tebrau and links with AEON Tebrau City, Toppen is poised to become the meeting place and the heart of the surrounding community.

Together with IKEA Tebrau, Toppen is all set to create a fun and inspiring day out in Southern Malaysia when it opens its doors in November 2019.

Ariel view of the construction-in-progress at Toppen Shopping Centre, featuring The Topp, rooftop community.
I take my seat in front of the big screen where (I’m sure!) they will later present a video of the building development thus far (and I was right).

While waiting for the event to start, Elya Eusoff, the event Emcee (who remembers me from the previous event) and I exchange comments about how the time has flown and here we are again at this exciting juncture…

The event opens with an introduction and we learn about how Toppen’s retail mix will offer Johoreans and visitors to Johor, a complete retail experience with great meeting places and spaces for family and friends to enjoy their time together.

Toppen will boast of a rooftop community hub dubbed, The Topp, which is set to attract visitors to a myriad of fresh retail, dining, e-sports and entertainment experiences, in fact a complete retailtainment (if there is such a word!) in Southern Malaysia.

Shopping Centre & Mixed Use Director
of IKEA Southeast Asia, Christian Olofsson
The first-of-its-kind in Malaysia, The Topp is a unique rooftop concept that features four distinct zones for visitors from all walks of life.

These interactive outdoor spaces will be complemented by over 30 Food & Beverage specialty and alfresco outlets, a rooftop garden, multipurpose courts, skate parks, a spacious piazza, kids’ playgrounds, a cinema, e-sports arena and even a water play area!

“We are passionate and driven to develop meeting places that become the heart and the hub of the surrounding communities,” said Shopping Centre & Mixed Use Director of IKEA Southeast Asia, Christian Olofsson.

“With the community at the very heart of our strategy, we are confident that Toppen together with IKEA Tebrau, will be a new retail landmark in South Malaysia, a true meeting place where customers and businesses alike can flourish and grow,” he added.

With close to 85% of its retail space already leased out, the call to merchants who want to be part of Toppen is to hurry up and secure a space here!

Then I discover the exciting, new-to-Johor brands that will open in Toppen!

These are Ben’s Independent Grocer (B.I.G), The Pantheon, opening its second e-sports area in Malaysia here, 9 to 9 – a first-in-Malaysia online to offline (O2O) by Hush Puppies – and Concept Haus, a premium streetwear and athleisure retailer.

Among the familiar brands coming to Toppen are TGV Cinemas, Harvey Norman, Sports Direct, Burger King and Marrybrown, and a local brand with fresh concepts, 7 Oaks.

Brand representatives at the Key Handover ceremony
My media colleagues and I then witnessed the Key Handover in a simple ceremony with several brand partners in this four-level shopping center.

Toppen is projected to attract some 15 million visitors in 2020, not only from Johor and its neighbouring states but also from nearby Singapore.

While adding vibrancy to the economy, this shopping center will offer thousands of business opportunities within the region and is set to create numerous jobs and career opportunities for the community in Johor.

“We are committed to creating market relevant shopping experiences that fit our consumers’ lifestyles and we do this by consistently identifying opportunities to improve the customer journey with new and in-demand tenants that reflect a well-curated mix of retail, dining and entertainment concepts,” said Arnoud Bakker, Head of Leasing, Southeast Asia of Ikano Centres, which is part of IKEA Southeast Asia.

Head of Leasing, Southeast Asia of
Ikano Centres, Arnoud Bakker
“Co-creation is something that we strongly believe in, not only for external relationships but for the mall space as well because it allows each tenant to work together and create a cohesive experience for the customers, while remaining diverse in shopping selections,” he further explained.

From the video screened, we saw the work-in-progress within the building and it was impressive to learn that Toppen Shopping Centre had already received its Bomba or Fire Safety Certification since May 2019.

IKEA Southeast Asia has over 15 years of experience in developing, owning and running successful IKEA stores and shopping centers in the region.

These include IPC Shopping Centre and MyTOWN Shopping Centre in Malaysia and Megabangna in Thailand.

With a strong track record and global experience, IKEA Southeast Asia is confident that very soon, Toppen Shopping Centre will be the meeting place and the heart and hub of the Johor community.

The commitment of IKEA Southeast Asia to the community is also seen from their initiative to widen the roads and create an extra exit into the Tebrau Highway to ease traffic flow within this area. [Construction is still in progress.]

After the event and refreshments, we are directed to leave the building via the IKEA Tebrau restaurant and through the store exit.

This route will inevitably take me through part of the store and I’m happy for an opportunity to browse around for any well-designed, functional, useful and affordable knick-knack.

[It’s no secret that IKEA is a store where I will always find something useful to buy.]

A view of the checkouts at IKEA Tebrau
Then I join a queue to pay and because the wait was getting too long, I look closer to find out the reason why.

With two customers ahead of me, I can watch how the cashier is dealing patiently with a lady customer who seems to be having difficulty in payment – part by cash and part by credit card – and she was getting increasingly agitated, to the point of muttering under her breath.

After a long transaction, she finally leaves the cashier with her purchases but not before releasing a loud shout (that really startled us!) But she was really weird.

Then I watch as the cashier deals professionally with the customer ahead of me, keeping his cool and remaining unperturbed.

Then she too changed her mind about buying certain items and this resulted in further delay while the cashier again telephoned a colleague to amend the bill which should be reversed.

Meanwhile, I’m privately commending IKEA for their staff training and Standard Operating Procedures to guide them in dealing with all types of customers.

With Zamri, my regular reader. 
I'm sure it’s all in a day’s work for the cashier but I can understand if he is unduly stressed, so my only wish is to complete my transaction smoothly and leave.

Then it’s my turn. The cashier politely asks for my Member Card and parking ticket (to endorse and waive payment!)

I pass him my IKEA Member Card and parking ticket and when he reads my name, he looks at me with recognition and declares, “You are that writer…”

After observing the earlier drama, I’m pleasantly surprised at his keen attention and I quickly respond in the affirmative, “Yes, I am.”

He goes on to tell me that he’s been my reader since his schooldays… while my eyes zoom in to his nametag which reads: Zamri and by then, my transaction has been completed smoothly.

I’m more than pleased to meet my regular readers and as I leave, I’m filled with a deep sense of pleasure as he wishes me well along with encouragement to keep on writing!

Thanks, Zamri. This was indeed a memorable and meaningful outing to IKEA Tebrau for the Toppen Shopping Centre event with IKEA Southeast Asia, and for me personally.

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