The retail climate in Singapore is a fiercely competitive one, and it has become even harder to survive in the face of the pandemic. Here are some famous retailers that have shuttered their stores in Singapore even before the pandemic.
TOP 1 Sasa
Hong Kong cosmetics retailer Sasa opened its first store in Singapore in 1997 and was a popular place for cosmetics and personal care products with a large variety of beauty products. However, it lost its appeal over the years due to a deterioration in product offerings and price, and it was also lacklustre compared to its competitors such as Sephora and Etude House when it comes to offering a welcoming and refreshing experience for customers. In Dec 2019, Sasa announced that it will be closing all 22 shops here by 2020 as it has been suffering losses for the past 6 years.
TOP 2 DFS
Hong Kong-based retailer DFS has been operating in Changi Airport for 38 years. However, they made a shocking announcement in August 2019 that they will not bid for the next concession term when their current lease expires in May 2020. This means that all of the DFS liquor and tobacco outlets at the airport will be shut down by then, despite the outlets enjoying brisk business. The management explained that the decision was made after taking into consideration the stricter regulations concerning liquor and tobacco in Singapore, as tighter limits have been imposed on duty-free alcohol purchases and the minimum smoking age will be raised from 18 to 21 starting 1 January 2021.
However, their luxury, cosmetic and perfume outlets will still be in operation.
TOP 3 Carrefour
French retail giant Carrefour was the first to open a hypermarket in Singapore back in 1997. However, despite providing a new shopping experience, it was unable to penetrate the Singapore market as it does not have a chain of outlets in heartland and residential areas unlike the other prominent players. With outlets in Plaza Singapura and Suntec City, high operating costs such as rental and manpower also spelt trouble for Carrefour. Eventually, Carrefour closed both outlets before the end of 2012 as it recognised that expansion and growth is limited here.
TOP 4 John Little
John Little was Singapore’s oldest department store, said to be established in 1842 in Raffles Place. In 2002, in had 7 outlets islandwide. However, the number has dwindled to just one last store at Plaza Singapura, which is slated to close by January 2017. John Little was known for having a good selection of children’s products and women’s clothing. However, that did not prevent its downfall, which could be attributed to the e-commerce boom and increasing competition from other retailers.
TOP 5 GAP and Banana Republic
American clothing brands Gap and Banana Republic first opened in Singapore in 2006 and were well-known for providing quality clothing. 11 years on, FJ Benjamin, the manager of the stores announced that the franchise for the stores will not be renewed, resulting in the closing down of the stores in February 2018. The closures are part of the restructuring process to close down under-performing GAP and Banana Republic stores so that attention can be focused on stores with growth potentials. Factors that contributed to the downfall could be the higher price point and a relatively limited product offering and new launches compared to fast fashion brands.
TOP 6 Crabtree & Evelyn
British beauty retailer Crabtree & Evelyn announced in January 2019 that it will close all 12 of the stores in Singapore and shift to a fully online business model. This does not come as a surprise as the brand has been in financial trouble for some time as evident from the filing of bankruptcy and closing down of stores in the US, UK and Canada previously. The brand attribute the losses to changing consumer demands, declining retail traffic and increasing online traffic.
TOP 7 American Eagle Outfitters
American fashion retailer American Eagle Outfitters exited the Singapore market after just less than 3 years in operation as the company seeks to refocus on its core business of footwear. Both its flagship outlet at Vivocity and its Suntec City Outlet were shut in February 2018 due to subpar performance which could be attributed to the onslaught of e-commerce and fast fashion brands which are more wallet-friendly and come up with new styles more often. It is a pity as fans will no longer be able to shop for their quality jeans and stylish tops in store.
TOP 8 celio and New Look
French menswear chain, Celio, and British fast-fashion label, New Look, used to be common sights in major shopping malls such as Suntec City and VivoCity. However, both brands did not survive the retail climate in Singapore due to poor sales, forcing distributor Jay Gee Melwani Group to make the difficult decision of closing all of the stores here. The usual factors of high operating costs, inability to hit sales targets and the rise of e-commerce contributed to their demise.
TOP 9 Lowrys Farm
Japanese retailer Lowrys Farm called it quits in Singapore just 3 years into their venture here. All eight of their outlets were shut in 2015 as they were not meeting sales target. The management cites differences in climate and fashion tastes as some of the reasons as to why the stores were under-performing. Lowrys Farm’s apparels also tend to be pricier than their competitors’, hence putting them at a disadvantage.
TOP 10 Borders
American bookstore giant Borders first entered the Singapore market in 1997 and was a popular place for book lovers to explore its wide selection of books. The bad news came in 2011 where both Australia-based REDgroup Retail, which owned Borders’ operations in Singapore, and the Borders Group in the US closed down, sealing the fate for the Borders stores here. The last store to close was Borders at Parkway Parade which closed its doors on 26 September 2011, much to the reluctance of its supporters. It is safe to say that Borders is another casualty in the rise of e-books and tools such as Kindle which have affected many brick and mortar bookstores.
Photo credits: The Straits Times, DFS, Channel News Asia, TODAYonline, Business Insider Singapore, Mothership, Retail News Asia, Retail In Asia, Mothership, Borders Singapore
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