Pawnbroker MoneyMax bets big on designer bags, accessories

Mr Lim said Singapore "has great potential to follow in the footsteps of Hong Kong and Japan and become the regional hub for second-hand designer bags".
Mr Lim said Singapore "has great potential to follow in the footsteps of Hong Kong and Japan and become the regional hub for second-hand designer bags".PHOTO: MONEYMAX

Designer handbags do not come cheap but bargain-hunting fashionistas can now land a prized accessory at a steep discount, thanks to a new venture by pawnbroking chain MoneyMax.

The firm's outlets in Woodlands and Toa Payoh HDB Hub will now accept luxury bags and accessories like wallets and namecard holders from owners keen to pawn or sell them.

MoneyMax said yesterday that it will accept bags from Hermes, Chanel and Louis Vuitton - coveted products that can cost up to five-figure sums. It expects to widen the number of brands and, in turn, attract customers keen on getting some chic on the cheap.

It plans to roll out the venture at its 37 outlets here this year, and plans to take the business to its 11 stores in Malaysia next year.

The firm estimates the initiative will cost $5 million in its starting phase, mainly to purchase its initial inventory, renovate its stores and train staff.

MoneyMax group chairman Peter Lim noted yesterday that company research showed that there was a gap in the market for second- hand designer handbags.

"In a developed society like Singapore, one of women's most valuable possessions is their designer handbags. This is such a big market, but nobody has provided a three-in- one solution where women can pawn, buy and sell," Mr Lim said in Mandarin yesterday.

Although the firm will be going head to head with online retailers like Reebonz and Closet Raider that already sell pre-owned designer handbags, Mr Lim said MoneyMax has a competitive advantage as it has physical stores where customers can inspect the items on sale, as well as a money-back guarantee.

He also noted that since Singapore is the regional hub for luxury goods, "it has great potential to follow in the footsteps of Hong Kong and Japan and become the regional hub for second-hand designer bags".

Ms Fiona Huang, 29, an advertising account director, said she has not bought any bag online.

"I would definitely consider buying a pre-owned designer bag from a pawnshop as long as it is a reputable place which consistently delivers quality bags," she said.

Revenue at Catalist-listed MoneyMax rose 29 per cent to $94 million last year, while profit before tax jumped 179.4 per cent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2016, with the headline 'Pawnbroker bets big on designer bags, accessories'. Print Edition | Subscribe