PETALING JAYA: Although the Sim Leisure Group may not be a household name to many, the local company is one of the major players in the development and operation of theme parks in the region.
Its objective is to affirm its presence not only on the local market but internationally.
Innovation and a good understanding of future trends in the global leisure industry have facilitated its expansion plans.
Locally, the group is recognized for having conceptualized and developed the Escape brand of parks.
It uses an innovative, low operating and capital expenditure business model that has disrupted the usual model used by conventional theme parks.
The company focuses on rediscovering childhood experiences and reconnecting with nature.
With Escape-branded parks in Penang (established in 2012) and Petaling Jaya (2020), plans are underway to open more Escape facilities both domestically and overseas.
The group also made several key acquisitions including that of the edutainment facility called KidZania KL in 2020.
The group is founded by veteran industry visionary Datuk Sim Choo Kheng who has devoted more than three decades of his life to the entertainment industry.
According to Sim, the Escape brand is one of the pioneering theme park developers.
The brand strives to revive the outdoor experience of childhood while preserving nature in its facilities.
“To succeed in this sector, we must be able to predict future trends and the direction the industry is taking.
“The future of the attractions industry will no longer be about theme parks with mechanical rides. They have been around for far too long; since the days of telegrams and fax machines. They have lost their relevance.
“Driven by digital evolution, attractions will be replaced by two very distinct trends – the first being virtual reality (VR) and the second nature parks like Escape, both for different reasons.
“The first is driven by the immediate disruption of virtual reality in roller coaster space, with much greater potential and richer content for a fraction of the investment.
“Meanwhile, nature parks such as Escape will allow us to reconnect with the environment through fun activities while providing respite to our devices, returning us to the original path of recreation and recreation,” a- he told StarBiz.
The company recently made history by becoming the first Asian attractions brand to be exported internationally with ongoing projects in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and China, giving even more credibility to the group’s quest to become one of the world’s most successful leisure businesses. its disproportionately high number of malls per capita due to its desert climate and most people preferring to spend their free time indoors, Saudi Arabia is the perfect market for the Escape Challenge that appeals to the outdoors such as the Paradigm mall theme park, Petaling Jaya.
“We plan to establish an Escape Challenge in every corner of Saudi Arabia,” he said.
The Sim Leisure Group saw a strong rebound in net profit and revenue in the first half, thanks to a significant increase in visitor numbers following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
For the first half of 2022, revenue and net profit amounted to RM26.6 million and RM10.2 million respectively, marking a three-fold increase in revenue and a 10-fold increase in net profit, compared to 2019.
Meanwhile, Group CEO Phil Whittaker. said, “We are currently focused on expanding the Escape portfolio locally and internationally, while ramping up our marketing efforts, which should further increase our revenue in the second half.
“We have already completed the design of Escape Cameron Highlands while Escape Ipoh will see its first phase open by the end of this year.
“Meanwhile, our Guinness World Record-winning attractions at Escape Penang – the world’s longest waterslide and slide roller coaster – have helped drive traffic and attendance to the park.”
Amidst its growth and expansion efforts, Sim Leisure Group emphasizes sustainability, which has been paramount since the group’s inception.
For example, with the development of Escape Penang, which is built amidst lush natural vegetation, the construction of the park has involved the preservation of its environment, which has also seen the planting and replanting of over 3,500 trees. in the park.
The group is also working to develop a renewable energy partnership, to collaborate on a solar energy initiative to power all existing and future Escape parks. — By Daljit Dhesi