Jannie Chan steps down as SRA president

Association lauds her for promoting interests of retailers; ex-NMP Dhinakaran takes helm

After 17 years at the helm of the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), businesswoman Jannie Chan has stepped down as its president.

Taking her place is Mr R. Dhinakaran, managing director of Jay Gee Melwani Group, which manages brands including Levi's, Aldo and Converse.

Ms Chan's stepping down was "due to her retirement at (luxury watch retailer) The Hour Glass and her other commitments", and took effect immediately after an SRA council meeting on Tuesday, said the association yesterday.

In March, Ms Chan, 71, retired as executive vice-chairman and executive director at The Hour Glass, which she co-founded with her former husband in 1979.

"I've done everything I could for the retail industry in the last 20 years," Ms Chan told The Straits Times yesterday.

"It's a different challenge now. There's more integration with technology... and it's at the execution stage, not just developing strategies and what we have to do."

Ms Chan joined the industry as a salesgirl at her then husband Henry Tay's family-owned watch business, Lee Chay, in 1973. She became SRA president in 1999.

Thanking Ms Chan for her contributions, SRA said she had successfully raised the profile of the 300-strong association.

Among other things, she has "constantly engaged various government agencies... to promote the interests of retailers and look at issues that concern the industry".

She introduced awards such as the SRA Retail Awards in 2000 and the SRA Shopping Centre Awards in 2007. She also chaired the Great Singapore Sale Steering Committee from 1999 to last year.

With her retirement from the SRA, she intends to invest her time in a non-profit she founded called Save Our Planet Foundation, which promotes reforestation to mitigate climate change.

Mr Dhinakaran, who is in his 60s, said of his new role: "I would like to represent the retailers and share their views with government agencies, and work with landlords to get them to understand the difficult times we're going through."

The former Nominated Member of Parliament, who championed small and medium-sized enterprises, also wants the SRA to help smaller retailers get online by linking them up with existing e-commerce platforms.

He said: "I'm taking over at the worst of times... and I hope to protect and safeguard the interests of retailers."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2016, with the headline 'Jannie Chan steps down as SRA president'. Print Edition | Subscribe