Fans of Leica will think they have died and gone to Leica heaven with the opening of the new Leica Global flagship store at Avenue K on 28 July 2011.
The new Leica M9-P has no name or logo in front as only those who know will recognise this classic shape first designed in 1954 and still going strong!
Sim Hai Yeun and Mathieu Musnier listening to Sunil Kaul, MD of Leica Camera Asia Pacific
The German ambassador Dr Guenter Gruber extolling the virtues of Leica cameras before the ribbon cutting ceremony
Emphasizing a point
According to Chinese tradition, the name plaque should be covered until the opening ceremony is over
The golden scissors are distributed to the VIPs
Sunil Kaul taking the lead cutting the ribbon
Left; Sim Hai Yeun, GM of Avenue K, Sunil Kaul, MD of Leica Camera Asia Pacific, Dr Guenter Gruber, Germany ambassador to Malaysia, Sean Yap of City Properties the owner of Avenue K and B.S Ong, CFO of Schmidt Marketing Asia Ltd
All done and Sunil Kaul wondering what to do with the giant bow tie
All done and Sunil shake hands with Sean Yap of City Properties who made all this possible as Jennifer Chow of Dutaland joins in
Sim Hai Yeun, Sunil Kaul, Dr Guenter Gruber, Sean Yap, Shannel Woo and B.S Ong. The German ambassador was given a panoramic photo of KLCC as a token of appreciation taken by a Leica of course
Now the red cloths were removed and the Leica signs shone brightly, ushering in good feng shui
Sunil Kaul and Sean Yap engaging the German ambassador about the attributes of Leica. Notice Sean Yap had a Leica as necklace
Left; YTM Tunku Besar Tunku Ali Redhauddin Tuanku Muhriz of Negeri Sembilan, Margaret Yap and Kwok Yan Chue
The Crown Prince of Negeri Sembilan with Kee Hua Chee
YTM Tunku Redhauddin Tuanku Muhriz and Kwok Yan Chue
The Most Beautiful Couple; Kee Hua Chee and Margaret Yap of Hong Kong , wife of Sean Yap
Tall, fair and handsome, Sean Yap is often mistaken for a Hong Kong movie star as he moves around Kuala Lumpur with his Leica M9 around his neck
Never leave home without your Leica!
Sim Hai Yeun, Sunil Kaul, Dr Guenter Gruber and Sean Yap
Kee Hua Chee and Sunil Kaul under the famous red dot
Kee Hua Chee holds his precious Leica D-Lux 4 given to him by Her Royal Highness Sultanah Hajjah Kalsom of Pahang
Jennifer Chow of Dutaland and Sunil Kaul MD of Leica Camera Asia Pacific
Kee Hua Chee holding his Leica D-Lux 4 with Jennifer Chow
B.S Ong of Schmidt Marketing, Sim Hai Yeun GM of Avenue K, Sunil Kaul of Leica Camera Asia Pacific and Jackie Chan of Schmidt Marketing
Sim Hai Yeun, Sunil Kaul, Dr Guenter Gruber the German ambassador and Sean Yap of City Properties
For the first time in Malaysian history, we will not have to traverse overseas to check out the latest Leicas. Prior to this Leica Store at Avenue K, there were only 3 privately owned camera shops selling Leica cameras as you just cannot walk into any camera retailer and ask to see Leica the way you are swamped with Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, Panasonic or Samsung. Come to think of it, just add Leica in front of this line-up and you get the world's best cameras, in that order!
All these 3 shops are multi-brand camera shops and sell dozens of brands and service was less than sterling.
The genesis of this flagship store started with a complaint about Leica. Not, heaven forbid, because of some fault or deficiency about the lenses but the short supply and inadequate goods and service unworthy of such an illustrious name. This complainant went to Singapore to pour out his litany of woes to Sunil Kaul, Managing Director of Leica Camera Asia Pacific who listened with mounting concern and interest as the disgruntled Malaysian collector lamented he could never get the cameras he wanted as they were either out of stock as the shops carried only one or two or not imported into Malaysia at all. As the shops were not beholden to Leica the staff did not bother to phone the aficionado when new stocks arrived.
This I can attest as a friend of mine wanted to buy the Leica D-Lux Safari and had to fly to Johore to get it! The Johore Baru store was reluctant to courier it to him while he feared his precious cargo might get damaged in transit. So he flew to Johore Baru, taxied to the shop, paid for the Leica and flew home to KL.
Meanwhile this Malaysian complainant was no Ordinary Joe as he was Sean Yap, son of tycoon Duta Yap who controls Avenue K. You beginning to see the end of this anecdote?
A proposal to open a Leica flagship store was put forwarded. This was initiated nearly 2 years ago and the green light was given from Leica Camera Asia Pacific and Leica HQ in Solms, Germany where all Leicas are made. Of course it is very advantageous for Leica to join venture the owner of Avenue K. If your landlord also happens to be your partner there should be no sniping over rent nor threats for late payment!
The result is the stunning new international benchmark with the opening of its latest Flagship and Global Store in Malaysia at The Avenue K lifestyle mall located directly across the PETRONAS Twin Towers along Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.
Kee Hua Chee and Yian Huang, pixman extraordinaire and Magnum Photo Apprentice who worked in Paris. His workshop was called The Intimate Moment and was much appreciated by Leica fans
This picture of a young girl laughing spontaneously taken by Yian Huang at a music festival in Paris
Taken in Gaza by Yian Huang using his trusty Leica
I think this perahu was taken in Kelantan, my home state when I first saw it and true enough, it was taken by professional pixman T.S Lim using Leica M6 21mm lens in Fuji Velvia 35mm film.
So happy together! Vincent Chow of Schmidt Marketing which used to distribute Leica, Sean Yap, B.S Ong and Jackie Chan, president of Schmidt Marketing Hong Kong
The Leica sign shining brightly after its red cloth was removed after the ribbon cutting ceremony
Tuan Haji Hamdan Yahya and Kee Hua Chee in auspicious red to celebrate the opening of Leica store at Avenue K
Kee Hua Chee and Margaret Yap
Sunil Kaul, MD of Leica Camera Asia Pacific shows the custom made, presentation box where the M9 Titanium Limited Edition camera is housed
Sunil Kaul opening the box
The innermost and most protective section is opened
The protective casing is removed
The bottom part holds the accessories
This special box was handmade from compressed paper in Switzerland
Putting back the protective cover
You will be smiling too if you own this RM 118,888.88 Leica M9 Titanium!
Just holding the Leica M9 Titanium made me grin like Cheshire Cat
Tan Sri Dato Haji Lamin Haji Mohd Yunus, director of Dutaland
Samir Abdurahimov of Azerbaijan and Mario Miranda of Ecuador
Just look at the lens!! Reminds me of some magic pool from Harry Potter!
Mathieu Musnier looks impressed and he is Leica's Sales Manager
Vincent Chow of Schmidt Marketing and Jackie Chan, president of Schmidt Marketing from Hong Kong
These guys are driven; Alex Nathan and Raymond Tan of BMW
Kee Hua Chee, Fad'l Mohamed, Gianpaolo Neri and Francesco Argento
Yusuf Hashim and Jim Liaw
Kee Hua Chee and Jennifer Chow
B.S Ong, Sim Hai Yeun, Sunil Kaul and Jackie Chan
Jim Liaw, Saiful Nang and Ning
Steven Chan, Vincent Chow and Jackie Chan
Mrs and Mr Alex Hoo and John Teo
Maxby Chan, big fan of Leica
Khair Mahfar is an avid fan and collector of Leica
They own this!
Kee Hua Chee was too colourful so Leica did a retro photo of him circa 1954 when the M9 first appeared
Danny Ng is also in B and W
Tadashi Takeshige, designer of Leica flagship store in Avenue K and Jennifer Chow of Dutaland
Suzanne Chuah and Christy Leong
Lynn Howie and Randee Duncan
Tuan Haji Hamdan Yahya
The Avenue K and Leica Team who made the event possible---congratulations for a job well done!
Leica has 52 Stores and Boutiques including key locations in Paris, London, Shanghai, Beijing, Macao, Rome, Taipei, Singapore, Seoul, Moscow, Tokyo, Hong Kong, NYC, Berlin and now in Kuala Lumpur, the latest manifestation of the brand’s aggressive expansion into increasingly creative Asia markets, especially with so many young and talented photographers in the region. You may include me if you wish...
As Leica is German, its opening ceremony was graced by His Excellency Dr Guenter Gruber, Ambassador of Germany to Malaysia while over 130 guests including foreign dignitaries, customers and fans of Leica.
The Leica Store Malaysia spanning 1,500 sq. ft is the largest in the world and the first of its kind among its 52 stores worldwide so it is a big honour for us. This Global Store is the first variant of the store’s original design by Tadashi Takeshige where the store space is created to engage Leica Camera with owners and buyers in a relaxing yet luxurious environment with bar, library and private room.
"In this particular location, Leica Store Malaysia, the two key words are ‘Camera’ and ‘People’. I want people to experience the advanced technological features of the cameras/sports optics and understand the camera is for people to express their emotions freely," said Tadashi Takeshige.
According to Takeshige, the "Iris" in Iris Bar symbolizes the connection between 'Camera' and 'People' as the cameras and sport optics are displayed near the bar along the column where visitors gather. "The metaphor "Iris"refers to a very important element of the camera and the iris of the human eye. The light is focused over the "Iris Bar" where guests can relax at the oval counter, exchange information and experience the magic of "Leica Camera" brand." explains Sim Hai Yuen, general manager of Avenue K and Leica Store Malaysia.
In conjunction with the store opening, the new, much anticipated Leica M9-P is unveiled for the first time in Malaysia, following its debut in Venice with a multimedia essay shot by Magnum Photographer Alex Majoli through the collaboration between Leica Camera AG and Magnum Photos. The multimedia essay was also presented at the launch of the M9-P in Paris on June 21 so Malaysia is in excellent company! During the Malaysian launch, Singapore pixman Yian Huang, a former Magnum apprentice who used to work in Paris, gave a talk and explained the stories behind his photographs currently on display.
'Venice Landscape' exhibition at the launch of M9-P in Venice by Magnum photographer Alex Majoli
The LEICA M9, the camera that carries the legend of Leica M cameras into the digital age, is an updated version of the world"s smallest, full-frame, digital range finder camera. The P (Professional) version flaunts the sapphire crystal LCD glass previously seen only in the Leica M8.2 but now enjoys enhanced anti-reflective coatings for improved visibility in difficult lighting conditions.
The M9-P omits the traditional Leica red dot and M9 designation in front of the camera. Instead the Leica name is engraved on the metal top-plate in the company's traditional script. This was done in acknowledgment of professional pixmen who often hide the famous red circle with the name inside by covering and taping the famous logo. I think this is sheer foolishness but apparently these pixmen wished to avoid the usual 'oh you are using a Leica, wow you must be so rich and successful' chorus.
The vulcanite leathering is an added feature for good grip characteristics unless your fingers are coated with butter in which case you should not be handling any camera at all. As the M9-P starts from a minimum of RM 35,940 to RM 67,120, the case should offer a sturdy grip. The M9-P is only available at Avenue K so do not buy from the illegal grey or parallel market as this could result in after sales service and guarantee issues.
"The Leica Store Malaysia is an integral part of The Avenue K’s rejuvenation programme. We will be renovating the mall by end of the year and patrons will soon see the gradual opening of other flagship and global lifestyle stores in the near future”, said Sim Hai Yeun, General Manager of Avenue K.
Sunil Kaul, Managing Director of Leica Camera Asia Pacific said, "The opening of Leica Store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia marks a milestone for our company as we embark on our strategic approach to get closer to Leica customers. Leica Camera is synonymous with the best in German precision engineering and handcrafted craftsmanship and renowned for our superb quality and uncompromising performance worldwide.
"As an exceptional and unique brand, we are constantly pushing the boundaries in our product development by offering a dynamic blend of superior imaging quality and technology infused with top notch excellence. Ultimately, it is the lenses that are responsible for establishing the legend and high ideals of the Leica brand. They are all precision crafted masterpieces for ultimate in analog and digital photography", said Sunil Kaul.
He added, "Having a dedicated Leica flagship and global store ensures we are fully represented in Malaysia and allow us to deliver in the manner expected with our name. I'm confident our partner, Lagenda Manusia Sdn Bhd will preside over the growth of Leica in Malaysia."
The store opening was marked with a ribbon-cutting ceremony graced by His Excellency Dr Guenter Gruber the German ambassador who is especially fond and enthusiastically proud of the legendary German camera maker's presence in Malaysia. "I am pleased to witness this historic opening of Leica Store Malaysia right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Leica's customers and avid photographers in Malaysia will certainly be delighted to get up close and personal with this prestigious brand and learn more about its precision engineering and state of the art camera technology in an exclusive and relaxing ambient," said the Ambassador.
The German Ambassador to Malaysia predicted Leica Store Malaysia will be the photographers' melting pot to get together, share and exchange knowledge and experience to enhance and promote the art of photography and photo journalism in Malaysia.
The Leica Store Malaysia offers an entire range of Leica cameras, binoculars, telescopes, rifle scopes and sports optics, including limited and special editions. It is the authorized service centre for professional purchasing advice and technical support from Leica specialists. It also features a unique gallery of Leica’s private and vintage collection where customers can showcase their collectibles in a relaxing and enjoyable lounge setting.
"This is an unique opportunity for Leica owners to sell and buy pre-used and vintage cameras. This allows beginners or those on a budget to purchase Leica cameras knowing their investment is safe and sound," beamed Sean Yap. he should know, he was the instigator in bringing the first Leica standalone store to Malaysia.