Container market dying out

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Container markets once attractive entertainment centers now becoming less frequented. Heng Chivoan

As a new business concept that entered Cambodia three years ago, the container market became quite popular as a place for entertainment and shopping. But it has been drying up as of late and could disappear soon.

Some container markets in the capital found themselves shut down after running for just a year, while other projects are still pending.

A container market located in the Boeung Kak Lake area was shut down after only a year in operation. It is now being turned into another commercial entertainment hub.

The second-largest container market project in the capital, 2040 Container is yet undeveloped. Located along Sothearos Blvd, near Sofitel Hotel, the market originally was set to open at the end of last year.

The Jet Container market, located near the Russian embassy, was the first example of a container market in the Kingdom and the only one in operation in Phnom Penh, although business is slowing.

Jet Container project manager Chhay Sophiorn said business had dropped almost 50 per cent, forcing some of the vendors to shut down their store.

“The container market has slowed down, with business operations at just 50 per cent,” he said. “Vendors – impatient and suffering competition from other container markets, as well as business vendors in their own market, have been giving up on their businesses.”

However, he said the company is now trying to come up with something new to attract customers and visitors.

“The closing of business vendors in the market also impacts the market image, so the number of visitors also decreases. We are now preparing a new concept to maintain quality control and attract more customers,” he said.

Chea Sokhanarin, the owner of a clothes shop in the Jet Container market, said she has noticed a huge difference from her first year of business here.

“The first year of business operation here went really well and was successful, but after the opening of several other container markets, it became saturated and profits declined. A lot of vendors gave up their businesses as they could not afford the rent,” she said.

In order to keep her business alive, Sokhanarin now sells merchandise mainly through online platforms. She remains confident, however, that the container market will still operate for a long time.

“I believe in the owner of the Jet Container market because he continuously changes and updates his business strategy in order to attract more people,” she said.

Federation of Associations for Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia president Te Taingpor said management skills in small and medium enterprises are limited.

He said most of them simply copy other business models rather than implement their own strategies. Hence, the failure of the container market is a result of that.

“This failure is also due to the excessive gratuitous copying of other business models – we saw their success, but it doesn’t mean that copycats will succeed too. We need to think about competition, costs and market shares.

“Most young entrepreneurs merely followed others and opened similar businesses in the same location. So how can their businesses succeed if they do not have the proper management skills?”