Royal Sporting House gets revamp to cater to millennials

Royal Sporting House's chief executive officer for Asia-Pacific David Westhead says the brand has a unique DNA with its extensive selection and size.
Royal Sporting House's chief executive officer for Asia-Pacific David Westhead says the brand has a unique DNA with its extensive selection and size.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Royal Sporting House has renovated its Tanglin Mall flagship store to offer experiential shopping sought by customers

Most Singaporeans would have shopped at home-grown sports retailer Royal Sporting House at some point in their lives.

They would also be familiar with the jumble of items and brands that can be found in most of its stores and their cluttered layouts.

Its newly renovated Tanglin Mall flagship, though, looks and feels nothing like that.

The new look was launched last week in line with the 40-year-old company's rebranding efforts, which include store revamps, more tailored product selections and a logo typeface and colour tweak from blue to black.

With industrial-chic concrete floors and dark exposed ceilings, the 7,900 sq ft space has also adopted a shop-in-shop layout, which means that brands such as adidas, Nike and Reebok have their own sections and are designed to have the same finishings as their standalone stores.

Royal Sporting House's chief executive officer for Asia-Pacific David Westhead says: "What we wanted to do with our rebranding was to offer customers a more streamlined shopping experience.

"We've cut down the number of brands in the store from an average of 30 to 16 and are looking to focus more on going in-depth, with tailored services and more product knowledge for the brands we offer."

The first Royal Sporting House store opened in Lucky Plaza in 1977, and there are 30 stores in Singapore today.

So far, six stores have been revamped, with the rest to get a facelift over the next 12 months. The company also plans to extend its rebranding exercise to its more than 150 stores in Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

The rebranding - "a high seven- figure investment" - has been two years in the making and is the result of research and market feedback, which revealed that customers were seeking stores that offered experiential shopping and expert guidance to aid in product selection.

The Tanglin flagship now offers a running treadmill and gait analysis, as well as free tennis racket stringing by two in-house specialists.

The store has also nixed its lifestyle products - such as Vans sneakers and Sperry boat shoes - and expanded its running, tennis, swimming and functional training offerings.

Products available exclusively at the flagship include the Speedo Fastskin, mostly used by competitive swimmers (the store also has the largest selection of Speedo swimming gear in Singapore), new American running shoe brand Hoka One One and selected Reebok crossfit gear.

Mr Westhead, 46, says the changes are necessary to cater to the younger, millennial consumer as well as to offer a new look and shopping experience for loyal customers.

"Besides the fact that we have seen a five to 15 per cent increase in sales figures with our layout changes over the past six months, it is also important to innovate to keep up with consumer behaviour."

He declined to reveal revenue figures, but adds that the revamp was also important to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive sports retail scene here, which has seen new entrants such as mega retailer Decathlon. The French company has three stores here.

Mr Westhead says: "Competition is less of our concern, though, as we offer the largest selection of international brands for the mass market here.

"We welcome the competition, but I do feel we have a unique DNA with our extensive selection and size."

Still, not one to rest on its laurels, Royal Sporting House is partnering brands such as American label Saucony to hold running clinics at its flagship store and build communities of runners here. Also in the works are yoga classes for up to 30 people at the store.

With the boom of online shopping, the rebranding efforts are also laying the foundation for the store's e-commerce rollout, which Mr Westhead says it hopes to launch in the first half of next year.

Besides offering delivery options, the revamped stores will also serve as collection points for customers who make purchases online.

"We need to cater to the different ways people are shopping now and we want to give them a fantastic experience - whether it is through our site or in our stores."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2017, with the headline 'Royal revamp for sports store'. Print Edition | Subscribe