Japan's largest retailer AEON is set to soft-open the AEON MALL Mean Chey – commonly referred to as AEON 3 – on December 15 in southern Phnom Penh, with plans for a grand opening in the first half of 2023.

The mall has registered investment capital of $289.6 million, and broke ground in end-2019, on a 17.4ha plot along Hun Sen Boulevard in the ING satellite city, in Prek Talong 3 village, Chak Angre Krom commune, Meanchey district.

AEON Cambodia noted in a December 5 statement that the mall is the Kingdom’s largest, with three-storey RC (reinforced-concrete) building structure – partly four storeys – and about 180,000sqm of floor area, gross leasable area making up 98,000sqm or roughly five-ninths.

Of note, it said that the mall would have state-of-the-art 2D and even 3D digital signage, which it noted would be used to display promotions and relevant information.

A 21-page PDF file chock-full of additional details can be found here: aeonmallcambodia.com/aeon-mall-mean-chey-soft-opening-on-15th-december-2022

Speaking to The Post on December 7, Global Real Estate Association president Sam Soknoeun opined that AEON 3’s very existence shows that Cambodia is making “good progress” in international relations and economic growth.

In particular, the mall will turn the areas along Hun Sen Boulevard into more attractive choices for living and doing businesses, prompting additional large institutions to increase their presence there, as well as draw in more international companies into the Cambodian market, he said.

“Aeon 3’s opening next week is sure to improve the real estate market in the surrounding areas, especially property sales, since the availability of a variety of services – shops, schools … business centres – brings ease and comfort to people’s lives,” Soknoeun said.

However, he stressed, malls alone cannot guarantee improvements in the real estate sector or the rest of the economy – adequate levels of political stability, security and placidness as well as strong international relations and economic growth are also needed.

Although noting that retail occupancy rates have been fairly low nationwide, especially at outlets deemed to be substandard, he predicted that the Japanese retailer’s international recognition would ensure that AEON 3’s occupancy rates would be as high as those of AEON 1 and 2.

Real estate firm CBRE Cambodia reports that the total retail space in Phnom Penh has topped 600,000sqm, and that overall occupancy rate was about 70.7 per cent on September 30.

As of the end of the third quarter, the average monthly per-sqm quoting rent was $27 for “prime shopping mall” units (such as those at AEON 3), $23 for “prime high street” units, and nearly $20 for “prime retail podium” and “community mall” units.

CBRE Cambodia property valuation manager Chin Daluch argued that the retailer’s experience with the first two malls would mean more “special” preparations for AEON 3.

“Although shopping centres have been sprouting up a lot, especially in the ING satellite city, Aeon 3 could still be successful given the variety of accessible services, which include a plethora of entertainment options.

The $205 million AEON 1 in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district opened in June 2014, with the $120 million AEON 2 opening four years later on the same month in the capital’s Sen Sok district.

In January, AEON Cambodia leased about 3ha of land from Sihanoukville Autonomous Port in the nearby special economic zone (SEZ) for 50 years to set up a customs-bonded “multifunctional logistics business centre”.

The centre is expected to start operations next year, and provide facilities for companies to store imported merchandise without paying duties until their goods have cleared customs and been delivered.