Everything About the Robinsons’ Closure After Being in S’pore for 162 Years


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Just ask your friend, your brother, or even your grandmother’s dog – everyone would probably have heard of the departmental store Robinsons.

That’s how far the family brand’s name has travelled over Singapore’s generations.

However, with the emergence of online shopping, the most convenient shopping experience the world has seen, retail outlets have been hit hard with the new reality.

Many brands have found it difficult to stay afloat even before the pandemic came to make everything worse, and not even the seemingly strongest, beloved family brands are spared.

Robinsons To Close Remaining Outlets

Today (30 October 2020), Robinsons made an announcement that they would be closing down their two remaining outlets in Singapore, which are located at The Heeren and Raffles City. This will be done through liquidation, which involves selling off their assets to gain revenue.

It also signifies the complete exit of the retailer after 162 years of operating in Singapore.

Previously, in August, Robinsons had also shut down their store at JEM, citing reasons that “having multiple large-scale destination department stores was no longer a sustainable option” for them in the Singapore context.

Image: Giphy

According to a statement by the company, this tough decision was made after considering the company’s “inability to continue operations due to weak demand at department stores”.

Robinsons’ senior general manager, Mr Danny Lim, said that the outcome was regretful, and despite Robinsons’ efforts to pursue the brand’s success, the changing consumer landscape as an industry challenge has made it difficult for long-term success. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has also made this challenge even tougher.

“We have enjoyed success over the years, and it has been an honour for Robinsons to serve the Singapore market. I am grateful for the dedication of our team, and for the support shown by our customers over the years,” he commented.

Final Sales In The Coming Weeks

Mr Cameron Duncan and Mr David Kim from corporate advisory firm KordaMentha have been appointed as liquidators who will be handling the stores. This means that the company’s assets will be controlled by them, and they will look for ways to get the best value for them in order to maximise the returns given to creditors.

Robinsons’ statement also mentioned that although it was subject to confirmation, they are hoping that the stores will remain open for its final sales to customers in the coming weeks before shuttering.

For now, the stores’ last date of operation has yet to be confirmed. So if you’ll miss the shopping experience at Robinsons, hopefully it’s consolation to know that there are still a few weeks left for you to patronise the stores before they’re gone.

Employees Will Be Supported

Store closures are never easy, for many people will be left without a job, especially in this bad economy thanks to COVID-19.

However, Robinsons said that the management and the liquidators have informed employees of the upcoming closures, and have been assured that while the liquidators are working to maximise value for creditors, employees will also be included a cut.

Payments to support employees will also be given out to them by the management along with the next payment cycle. The company added that as the liquidation process usually takes months, this is considered to be well in advance.

To further facilitate supportive measures, KordaMentha will be in cooperation with The Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers’ Union, the National Trades Union Congress’ Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and the NTUC Job Security Council.

Government schemes such as SkillsFuture Singapore’s SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package will also be utilised.

Robinsons really seems to have been hit hard, for not only are the Singapore stores closing – the Malaysian stores located at Shoppes at Four Seasons Place and The Gardens Mall will face liquidation as well.

Robinsons’ Road

Despite the unfortunate end of its run, it’s still an impressive feat that the brand managed to last for 162 years as Singapore’s oldest local departmental store.

Having started as Spicer & Robinson in 1858, the brand was founded by Englishman Philip Robinson and James Gaborian Spicer, with the first outlet being at Commercial Square, now known as Raffles Place.

It was even bombed by the Japanese during World War 2 in 1941, but was resilient enough to open again the next day, showing the brand’s tenacity. They were also once hit by a raging fire in 1972 which destroyed $21 million worth of property, causing the store to relocate to Orchard Road.

Watch this story get told to you by your mother when you say you don’t want to go to work or school anymore because of illness.

Robinsons then opened as the anchor tenant in Centrepoint in 1983, followed by the huge Raffles City outlet opening in 2001, and finally the five-storey swanky outlet in The Heeren which opened in 2013 along with the JEM outlet.

Although the retailer may now be gone after a century of serving Singaporean customers, its legacy is sure to live on.


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