Opened in 1967, Sarinah Department Store was the first modern department store to open in Jakarta and is still considered today as an icon of the capital city. Located at the corner of Jalan Thamrin and Jalan Wahid Hasyim, the department store has been since its opening a showcase of Indonesian skills to the country’s exquisite handicraft. Except that competition over the last two decades has steadily developed, and with new shopping complexes such as Grand Indonesia or Senayan City, Sarinah has, over time, lost some of its appeal to customers.
It is, however, likely to change now, following the arrival of a young innovative president and director general, Jimmy Gani. Mr Gani has a lot of ambitions and wants to again turn Sarinah into the unavoidable shopping address of Indonesia’s capital.
“Sarinah is a historical monument well-known for its choice of Indonesian handicraft. We rightly believe that we embody more than other shops [relative to] Indonesia’s art of living and culture. And this is where we will now create a difference,” he said. Mr Gani’s peculiar approach hangs to the fact that he is the first director to come from the private sector to run the state-owned department store chain.
As Sarinah’s role of promoting Indonesian handicraft and products is intimately linked to tourism, Jimmy Gani approached Indonesia’s ministry of culture and tourism to become the preferred choice for tourists when shopping for souvenirs. An agreement was then signed in early December with the ministry, which will turn Sarinah into Indonesia’s Emporium, promoting the country’s arts, handicrafts, and textiles.
“We now embark on a complete revamp of our flagship store. It will give us a more distinctive Indonesian identity. Eighty percent to 90 percent of the products on offer in our store are already made in Indonesia. But we plan to further increase this share, and our teams are now traveling all around the archipelago to come back with the best products,” said Mr. Gani.
The first phase of this grand renovation includes the complete reshaping of all handicraft floors. “We [will] not only renovate the 5th and 6th floor, but we are also adding a new handicraft floor on the 7th floor. It will integrate a coffee outlet serving Indonesia’s best coffees, teas, and snacks, as well as a special corner for Indonesia’s food products. Another floor will be converted into an open space and will welcome temporary exhibitions presenting the best of a specific Indonesian province,” added Mr. Gani. The end of the renovation is planned for May. Other projects include the transformation of the main entrance integrating more Indonesian elements, the development of Indonesian food outlets, and the renovation of the facade. “We look to bring back the elegance of Sarinah as it used to be in the sixties,” told Mr. Gani.
Sarinah wants to be part of any tourist itinerary in Jakarta. “We already offer a free bus shuttle from the Grand Sahid Hotel in Jakarta and plan to extend this service from other hotels. We are also talking to travel agents to raise awareness about the new Sarinah,” said Mr. Gani. The company looks now to develop more services such as the possibility to order goods on the Internet or to offer discount vouchers for tourists.
Sarinah has also the ambition to expand all across the archipelago. “We will open six new outlets from various sizes, which will embody [the] Indonesian way of life values. First, [will be] to open is a store in Batam and a cafe-gallery in Bali, followed by outlets in Balikpapan, Makassar, at Prambanan temple, and in another Jakarta district. 2011 will see the opening of 20 to 30 more shops, including in foreign countries. Our long-term objective is to be present in all Indonesian provinces and become a center of Indonesian products,” forecasted Mr Gani.
With this new dynamic, Sarinah is confident to remain Indonesia’s favorite place to shop for foreign travelers and will attract many new customers.