In recent times, homegrown Malaysian themed attraction and leisure specialist, Sim Leisure Group Ltd (SLG) has made its mark in the international arena. The Group made history by becoming the first Asian attraction brand to be exported internationally with notable ongoing projects in Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and China.
SLG’s ESCAPE brand of nature-inspired theme parks bear testament to the Group’s expertise and foresight, led by its founder and chief executive officer, Sim Choo Kheng, who has devoted more than three decades of his life to the leisure industry. With exciting rides and games hosted in a natural environment, ESCAPE re-introduces the play and values of yesteryear where guests are able to reconnect with nature through self-directed and self-powered play, creating a totally different “playchanging” experience.
With existing award-winning ESCAPE parks in Penang and Petaling Jaya, more are currently underway both locally and internationally. Meanwhile, the Group has also made several key acquisitions in recent times, including that of edutainment facility KidZania Kuala Lumpur.
To facilitate its expansion, the Group has made several strategic executive appointments to its senior management and Board of Directors. Key among them is the appointment of Phil Whittaker who will assume the role of chief executive officer beginning July 1.
Whittaker, who prior to this appointment served as strategic advisor and more recently as commercial director to the Group, carries with him more than 25 years of knowledge and expertise in developing, launching, managing and restructuring sales, marketing, commercial and operations to deliver growth in several notable travel, leisure and entertainment-related organisations in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. He is highly regarded as a hands-on skilled strategist, negotiator, facilitator and communicator, forging fruitful and mutually-rewarding partnerships throughout his career.
Phil Whittaker said: “I am truly honoured to take on this appointment as CEO at Sim Leisure, as I am humbled to lead such a globally recognised and respected brand and build on the innovation and success that Sim has achieved as one of the industry’s leading leisure entrepreneurs and operators. I would like to thank Sim and the team for their faith and trust in me as I continue to leverage on my skills and experience to support and help to realise the ongoing expansion plans of the Sim Leisure Group.”
Heralded as the creative engine behind the Sim Leisure Group, Kheng will take on a new role as executive chairman where he will spearhead the Group’s new product innovation. With Whittaker’s appointment, Kheng will also oversee the Group’s strategic direction and the expansion of Sim Leisure’s brands, including the design and development of new projects locally and internationally, while liaising with key stakeholders.
Sim Choo Kheng said: “In many ways, these strategic appointments can be deemed a pivotal one in our mission to become the premier themed leisure company across the globe, as we train our targets and artillery on world domination! Those who know me can attest to the fact that I like to accomplish the impossible. So, we set out to make the impossible a reality, with our unique products where fun is measured in ‘smiles per hour.”
“As part of our ambitious plans moving forward, I am extremely pleased to welcome Phil as SLG’s new CEO. Having worked closely with him, I have no doubt that his proven competency and prowess in the business will ably lead the Group, while taking it to new heights in line with our expansion.” SLG has also made a new appointment to the Group’s board of directors, namely Eric Sho. An accountant and corporate controller by profession, Sho carries with him vast experience in China.
In the near future, SLG is also planning to introduce greater industry representation on the board to lend their expertise and help champion SLG’s industry representation in several markets around the world.