Future looks bright for Futuristic Store Fixtures

Futuristic Store Fixtures began as an interior design and renovation firm, but chief executive David Low (above) wanted a more scalable business that could go global. The firm then changed the way it operated, from the labour-intensive process of fit
Futuristic Store Fixtures began as an interior design and renovation firm, but chief executive David Low (above) wanted a more scalable business that could go global. The firm then changed the way it operated, from the labour-intensive process of fitting out one store at a time to making fixtures at its facilities in China and Malaysia for hundreds of stores at one go.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

S'pore firm joins portfolio of Temasek unit aimed at supporting fast-growing SMEs

Futuristic Store Fixtures, a home-grown firm serving global retail clients, has become the latest company to be added to Heliconia Capital Management's portfolio.

Heliconia, a wholly owned unit of Temasek Holdings, now has 11 companies in its portfolio, which is aimed at supporting fast-growing small and medium-sized enterprises across all industries.

Futuristic specialises in making store fixtures, such as shelves and hanging bars, in large quantities. Clients can then install these fixtures themselves at their stores worldwide.

"We see Futuristic as a potential proxy to consumer retail rather than a traditional fixtures company," said Heliconia chief executive Derek Lau in a statement yesterday. "Over the years, under David's leadership, the company has achieved a good track record in delivering value and managed to gain the trust from its global customer base. This is not easy."

Mr David Low is the chief executive of Futuristic.

The company began as an interior design and renovation firm. It would bid for projects one store at a time and would take on the labour-intensive work of fitting out the space, floor to ceiling.

NON-TRADITIONAL

We see Futuristic as a potential proxy to consumer retail rather than a traditional fixtures company.

MR DEREK LAU, Heliconia chief executive

But in 2000, Mr Low realised that he wanted the firm to do much more. He wanted a more scalable business that could go global. An employee introduced him to the idea of specialising in store fixtures and that is when things took off.

In 2003, Futuristic received its first deal to make store fixtures, from a North American client, and in 2005 Mr Low restructured the whole firm to focus on this new business. Instead of fitting out one store at a time, the company now makes fixtures at its facilities in China and Malaysia for hundreds of stores at one go.

"North American retailers, when they decide to expand, they have a number in mind at the start of the year. They will say, 'This year we will open 120 stores throughout North America'. They haven't even got the sites yet, but they will engage our services already," said Mr Low in an interview with The Straits Times yesterday.

"So they can place a huge order in advance, while their property division looks for store space. The moment they get the space, the fixtures will all be ready."

Futuristic's clients include some of the world's largest mid- to high-end global lingerie and apparel retailers, such as Victoria's Secret and Saks Fifth Avenue. The investment proceeds from Heliconia will be used to expand and upgrade the company's manufacturing facilities, Mr Low said.

Futuristic will also set aside a portion of the funds for strategic partnerships or acquisitions to expand its regional reach. The firm does over 60 per cent of its business in North America, and wants to expand its footprint in Europe, the Middle East and the Asean region.

It also does most of its work for fashion clients, and is keen to tap other market segments, such as food and beverage and telecommunications.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2016, with the headline 'Future looks bright for Futuristic Store Fixtures'. Print Edition | Subscribe