Retail developers in the current climate are feeling the brunt of the age of internet-shopping. It is not uncommon anymore to walk into a shopping mall to find it devoid of crowds and anchor tenants of international brands.
The retail sector is constantly trying to figure out what it will take to get shoppers away from their computer screens and into their stores.
Spiraling costs means that securing long term tenants are a problem, and mall in a constant state of renovation, consumers are unwilling to step into places where only a handful of tenants are available. We take a look at some brands that have become victims of this fallout.
The furniture and home decor store, which first opened in 2007, wound down its outlets in Tanglin Mall and Great World City in 2016. A spokesman cited that the closure was due to “the company bringing in new concepts“. News of their impending closure gained momentum when they began closing down sales on 19 February.
Lifestyle and furnishings retailer Francfranc joins the list of Japanese franchises which failed to maintain a foothold on the local market. They ceased operations in the middle of 2014, closing both stores in JCube and VivoCity, after a presence of merely two years.
News of their closure came especially as a shock considering that no specific reason was given; and in 2012, the chief executive officer of the brand, Fumio Takashima, had shared plans to expand to seven or eight stores.
Another lifestyle and furnishings retailer who has disappeared is Goods of Desire.
Hailing from Hong Kong, all their items were stylised with heavy oriental influences to appeal to the East Asian market. So one would think that opening their flagship store in Central Mall, close by to Chinatown, would reap profits.
Unfortunately, Goods of Desire too has pulled out of Singapore. The founder, architect-entrepreneur Douglas Young, attributed it to the growing shift of consumer spending towards the digital space, especially as the store was clearing out.
In fact, they have since revamped their website so that Singaporeans can shop online instead.
After raking in millions of dollars in losses, Parco shuttered down its 83,000 square feet premise at Millenia Walk in February 2014.
Parco is actually a retail management company housing fashion housing brands from Japan and other countries. One of their last great projects was to provide a space, Parco Next Next, for emerging local designers to set up shop and promote themselves.
The space vacated by Parco is now home to Harvey Norman’s largest flagship megastore.
These two stores always came in a pair in malls. Both brands are by distributor Jay Gee Melwani Group, and are expected to close within the second half of the year.
Celio, a French menswear brand, and British brand New Look, have been having closing down sales in the few stores they have left since late last year. Managing director R Dhinakaran mentioned that all the outlets were not meeting sales targets and operating costs were getting too high, while also mentioning stiff competition with e-commerce.
7. Lowrys Farm
Three years into their venture here, Lowrys Farm closed all eight of their outlets just a day shy of Chinese New Year in 2015 (although there appears to be 2 outlets in Tampines 1 and Vivo City). The closure was due to the stores not meeting sales because of “climate difference and fashion taste“.
As entrants such as H&M made their way over, with their more attractive design and aggressive marketing, brands such as Lowrys Farm took a beating as their products are pricier, yet not as sophisticated.
Although they held promise as a top fashion brand, Raoul shut its last store in Paragon February 2016. Choosing to focus on the wholesale business in the Middle East, USA and Europe, Raoul is just another victim of rising rents.
Another local fashion label which has disappeared is M)phosis.
Like Raoul, they were touted as a label to look out for and the closure shocked local designers. They have since closed all of its outlets in Southeast Asia, Singapore included. Their stores in China were still operational when news of their closure in Singapore was last reported.
Brand director, Mr Hensley Teheason told reporters that a severe cash-flow situation was the main reason for the closure.
10. Comics Connection
Now a remnant in the memories of 90’s kids, Comics Connections was the place for comics, trading cards and games.
For 23 years, this family-run business and its founder Mr Felix Yeo stocked translated Japanese manga and anime merchandise. But with the advent of online comics distributed by publishers, along with higher rentals, the brand was badly hit.
Former customers also criticised the brand for having lost its focus when they jumped onto the Hallyu bandwagon.
Expect More Closures Soon
As more consumers choose to spend their income online, empty and deserted malls will soon be a lot more common. International brands are now offering direct shipping to Singapore, and even for those who aren’t, there are lots of delivery forwarding services available.
So, where will you be doing your shopping next?