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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Robinsons to open store at The Heeren

Flagship store leaving The Centrepoint after nearly 3 decades there
The Straits Times - May 16, 2012
By: Amanda Tan
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Robinsons to open store at The Heeren Robinsons Group Asia head Jim McCallum said the company is "delighted to secure the new site", given its strategic location. -- PHOTO: ROBINSONS

ROBINSONS' largest store is moving to The Heeren after spending nearly three decades as a familiar landmark at The Centrepoint.

The local department store will open its largest outlet at The Heeren next year, after it inked a 'long-term' lease deal to take over the premises. It will continue to be at The Centrepoint until its lease there ends in 2014.

Robinsons has branches in Raffles City and the Marina Bay Sands, which opened last year. Next year, it will open its first suburban outlet at upcoming mall Jem in Jurong East.

But Robinsons Orchard at The Heeren will be its largest store at over 150,000 sq ft, spanning five floors and a basement when it opens next year. The current site in The Centrepoint, about 300m away, is 130,000 sq ft.

The Heeren, which has seen troubled times since restaurant Marche and music retailer HMV moved out in 2006 and 2009, will get a major overhaul in the third quarter of this year.

Funds will be pumped in by its owners Swee Cheng Holdings, as well as The Robinsons Group of Stores, which is putting in $40 million.

The 154-year-old department store will take up nearly all the space available, but the building will also host three or four food and beverage outlets run by other operators.

Mr Jim McCallum, Asia head for the Robinsons Group, told The Straits Times yesterday that the company is 'delighted to secure the new site', given its strategic location where human traffic and visibility are high.

'The aim and the purpose is to ensure that the brand and the business develop and survive in a changing retail scene. We're able to trade from 150,000 sq ft of retail over five floors in the new location... something we have not been able to do as efficiently where we presently are,' he added, even as he noted 'The Centrepoint is synonymous with Robinsons'.

Still, he acknowledged it is a 'matter of some regret' that the store cannot develop at The Centrepoint due to 'physical constraints' and 'commercial priorities of the landlord there'.

Some 300 jobs will also be created with the opening of this outlet and the one at Jem, he said.

Shoppers can look forward to a bigger home products department as well as some 20 new-to-market brands.

Property consultant Nicholas Mak said such a move could help rejuvenate The Heeren, which was once a popular hangout for young people.

Earlier this month, it was reported that The Heeren had below 10 tenants. The rest of the mall was boarded up.

But it could prove slightly risky for Robinsons, said Mr Mak, head of research at SLP International Property Consultancy. 'It will have to draw in shoppers based on its own merit whereas at The Centrepoint, shoppers could be drawn in by other shops.'

Still, rent may be less at the new site. 'The landlord needs someone to take over... Having a brand name means it must give an attractive rent,' he said, adding that this can be adjusted in a few years, based on Robinsons' performance and market conditions.

A Frasers Centrepoint spokesman said plans for The Centrepoint will be announced in due course.

One shopper, Madam Koh Beng Hong, 59, a housewife, said she will 'definitely visit the new store'.

'I don't mind the move as they are just moving nearby... It's still in Orchard Road,' she said.

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