162-year-old Robinsons to close all stores in Singapore and Malaysia

SINGAPORE — Robinsons has announced the imminent closure of its remaining stores in Singapore and Malaysia, as business is badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The department store chain announced in a media release on Friday (30 October) that it had begun the liquidation process for four outlets – two in Singapore, and two in Malaysia.

The affected stores in Singapore are those at The Heeren and Raffles City malls. Robinsons had previously announced in May that it would close its Jem outlet in August.

The affected outlets in Malaysia are at Shoppes at Four Seasons Place and The Gardens Mall.

With this move, Robinsons has pulled out completely from the Malaysian and Singapore markets after 162 years of operations.

Liquidators hope to keep the outlets open for the next few weeks while holding final sales.

Singapore - November 17, 2018: Unidentified people visit Robinsons shopping mall in Orchard road Singapore.
Robinsons at The Heeren shopping mall in Singapore's Orchard Road. (Photo: Getty Images)

In a press statement, the Singapore Manual & Mercantile Workers’ Union (SMMWU) shared that it was informed beforehand by Robinsons Singapore that it will be shutting its stores in Singapore. 175 workers will be affected and SMMWU is working closely with the liquidators to provide necessary assistance to the affected workers.

In the event of a retrenchment exercise in an unionised company, the union will ensure that the company carries it out in line with the existing Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment.

SMMWU is working closely with NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute), via the NTUC Job Security Council, to provide workers with training and job matching support.

A man walks past a window display of Robinsons retail outlet in Singapore, 19 September 2003. Indonesian retailer PT Matahari Putra Prima says it is considering buying a stake in Singapore's retailer Robinson, Channel news Asia reported.  AFP PHOTO/ROSLAN RAHMAN  (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
A man walks past a window display of Robinsons retail outlet in Singapore, 19 September 2003. (PHOTO: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)

The company had been revamping its e-commerce solutions and set up an e-store in Lazada, but a check on the Lazada platform showed that its products are currently not available.

Danny Lim, Robinsons’ senior general manager, said, "We regret this outcome today. Despite recent challenges in the industry, the Robinsons team continued to pursue the success of the brand.

“However, the changing consumer landscape makes it difficult for us to succeed over the long term and the Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated our challenges."

The company said it would support its employees while its operations are liquidated.

Robinson's Department Store was established in Singapore on 1 February 1858 by Philip Robinson, an English merchant, and James Gaborian Spicer.

The business began as a “family warehouse” at No. 9 & 10 Commercial Square (now known as Raffles Place) and sold foodstuffs such as teas, rice, sugars, oatmeal, biscuits, crackers, cheese, preserved meats and millinery.

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