May 21, 2010 / 6:03 AM / 8 years ago

Thai Central: mall may be partly restored in 6 months

* Could take 6 months to restore back part of dept store

* Will take longer to rebuild ZEN

* Has maximum insurance claims of 16.5 bln baht

* Too early to estimate 2010 revenue growth

By Ploy Ten Kate and Saranya Suksomkij

BANGKOK, May 21 (Reuters) - Thai department store operator Central Pattana PCL (CPN.BK) said on Friday it might be able to restore the back of its flagship Bangkok mall in six months but the destroyed front housing the ZEN store would need longer.

Its Central World mall, the second-biggest retail complex in Southeast Asia, suffered huge fire damage after an arson attack on Wednesday when troops disloged anti-government protesters from the surrounding area, which they had occupied since April 3. [ID:nSGE64K03B]

“We have Industrial All Risks insurance of 13 billion baht ($400 million) and another $100 million for riot and terrorism,” Chief Financial Officer Naris Cheyklin told Reuters.

“ZEN was badly hit but the back bit hasn’t been much affected and can be renovated. The cost of rebuilding and renovating everything shouldn’t reach 10 billion baht, within the insurance limits,” he told TV Channel 9.

The company invested 26 billion baht ($800 million) to open the store in 2006, aiming to draw in 150,000 shoppers per day. There were about 5,000 people working there in at least 500 shops.

ZEN has seven floors totalling 50,000 sq metres (538,200 sq ft), topped by 13 floors of ZEN World with another 30,000 sq metres (322,900 sq ft). It sold fashionable clothes and other goods to younger customers, tourists and affluent Thais.

The whole mall was forced to close from April 3, when the “red shirt” anti-government protesters invaded the upmarket shopping area and set up a sprawling camp there. Many other malls and luxury hotels had to shut their doors.

Central Pattana closed 12 of its 15 stores in Bangkok and the surrounding area on Thursday because of the security situation, but said all of them would be open on Friday except for those in the Silom and Chidlom areas affected by recent events.

Its store in the northern city of Chiang Mai, where there was trouble on Wednesday, is also closed.

Plans to delay the temporary closure of another flagship department store in the Ladprao area of Bangkok for renovation “could be an option” to help compensate for lost revenue, Naris said.

He said the company had not cut jobs, and staff from affected stores had been transferred to other branches for now.

Central Pattana has already said it expected to miss its revenue growth target of 14-15 percent this year due to political unrest. [ID:nWNAS8636]

“It is too soon to predict anything right now but we do have plans to support us and to make sure that growth will be affected as little as possible,” Naris said. ($1=32.45 Baht) (Editing by Alan Raybould)

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