Shutters come down on Singapore's colonial-era shopping store

Gurdip Singh
·2-min read

Singapore, Oct 30 (PTI) The curtains have fallen on Robinsons, Singapore's over a century's old iconic colonial-era shopping store owing to the loss of business compounded by changing retail buying patterns and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 162-year-old departmental store is closing its last two outlets in the city-state and the existing posh retail business through liquidation, the company said on Friday.

It is also closing two outlets in Malaysia, Shoppes at Four Seasons Place and The Gardens Mall, which will also undergo a similar liquidation process, according to media reports.

Robinsons was founded in 1858 in Singapore by Philip Robinson and James Gaborian Spicer. The company operating the store was originally known as Spicer and Robinsons, but was later renamed to Robinson and Company in October 1859.

Owned by the Al-Futtaim Group of Dubai, which began business in the 1930s, Robinsons said the decision came due to changing retail buying patterns and weak demand made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robinsons has begun the liquidation process for the two stores and employees have been informed of the situation, the company said in a release on Friday.

The provisional liquidators will now take control of the company's assets and assess options to realise the value in order to maximise returns to creditors, it added.

'Subject to confirmation, the liquidators are hoping the stores will remain open for the coming weeks to facilitate final sales for customers before they are shuttered,' it said.

Employees were informed of the liquidation on Friday and have been assured that the provisional liquidators will also work to maximise returns to them, it said.

Robinsons management has also ensured that employees are supported with a payment in keeping with the Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Act.

'Further, these payments will be made to them in line with the next payment cycle; well in advance of the usual liquidation process timing which would usually take months,' it said.

Online shopping has become increasingly popular among consumers amid changing purchasing behaviour and COVID-19 restrictions.

Demand for large-scale department store concepts has also weakened significantly, with official data showing a 35.3 per cent drop in retail sales at department stores in August.

'This dual trend has hurt the department store model both in Singapore and globally, and the negative effects of COVID-19 have made its impact more acute,' Robinsons said in the release.

Robinsons' senior general manager Danny Lim said that the changing consumer landscape made it difficult for the department store to 'succeed over the long-term'.

“We regret this outcome today. Despite recent challenges in the industry, the Robinsons team continued to pursue the success of the brand,' he said. PTI GS RS RS