Mara Digital Mall: Is it really a success?

Mara-Digital-MallBy TK Chua

According to Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the Mara Digital Mall launched on Dec 8 last year is a success. Sales recorded amounted to RM18.4 million for the 38 outlets currently in operation at the mall. However, if we take out the RM1.02 million generated by traders at the Anggerik Mall in Shah Alam, the sales achieved at the Mara Digital Mall is only RM17.38 million.

I think we should all congratulate the minister and those who believe in him if indeed the sales figures achieved are commendable and sustainable.

However, let’s not be too quick to praise or condemn. I prefer that we look at the numbers in greater detail. Since I am not in this business, I will only make general assumptions and ask general questions.

A RM17.38 million turnover for 12 months by 38 outlets is RM38,114 per month per outlet. Is this a large or small sales figure per outlet? Is this a viable and sustainable number? What is the gross margin for digital businesses? I hope the minister and those in this business are able to help me out.

Is a 30% gross margin for digital businesses a fair assumption? If so, 30% of RM38,114 is RM11,343 per month.

How many workers or assistants does an outlet require to achieve a turnover of RM38,114 a month? Are two workers a fair assumption with each getting RM2,000 a month?

What is the “market” rental (unsubsidised rental) for each outlet in the Mara Digital Mall? Is RM3,000 per outlet reasonable with air-conditioning, lighting and general maintenance thrown in? What about insurance, licensing, security and other auxiliary expenses? Can we assume RM1,000 per month for this?

The net to each outlet owner is RM3,343 per month before paying his own salary (RM11,343 minus RM8,000). Is this considered a “success”?

I wish the minister could give a more cogent assessment of his pet project. Quoting some global numbers is not going to reveal or help much.

It has been one year. How many of these outlets are surviving and making a profit without subsidies?

If indeed the project is profitable and viable, by all means expand it further to other states. If not, please do not indulge in pretentious statements and waste more taxpayers’ money.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

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