Luxury mall Scotts Square losing rash of tenants

Some say mall is too high-end; owner says it's just end of leasing cycle

Empty shopfronts dot the gleaming levels of Scotts Square. Despite its prime location in the Orchard Road retail belt and a line-up of high-end brands, the luxury boutique mall has seen an exodus of retailers as crowds stay away.

At least six stores have left the Wheelock Properties-owned mall since October, after completing their leases.

There were 10 empty shopfronts when The Straits Times visited yesterday. According to the mall's online directory, 28 shops remain open.

Luxury watch retailer Sincere Fine Watches vacated its street-front space on the first and second floor last week, after three years at the mall.

Other recent departures include restaurants Ginza Sushi Ichi and Arossa Wine & Grill, which shut their doors on Jan 31. Urban apparel retailer Bread & Butter left last November, and Malaysian cafe Delicious the month before.

And this month, at least three more shops - fashion brands Anne Fontaine, Kiton and Marina Rinaldi - will exit the mall.

Ms Nurzreena Nurshahid, 24, senior sales assistant at sportswear brand Paul & Shark, said: "The mall is quite empty. We get maybe 20 walk-ins a day, but we can sell to about five."

And Ms Desiree Lim, 40, retail executive at health and beauty chain Guardian's basement outlet, said: "Customers have only a few food choices and would rather go to Paragon or Ion instead of coming downstairs."

Sandwiched between Grand Hyatt Hotel and Tangs department store, Scotts Square on Scotts Road reopened in 2012 following the demolition and rebuilding of the old Scotts Shopping Centre.

The three-storey mall, which has a basement with a FairPrice Finest supermarket, has 75,000 sq ft of space that can be rented, and is topped by a 43-storey six-star residence.

Some say the mall is feeling the pinch because it has gone too upmarket in an area where neighbours such as Ion pull in crowds through a blend of high-end and mid-range offerings.

Retail expert Amos Tan, who lectures at Singapore Polytechnic, said: "The malls around that area cater to mid-range shopping. If 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the shoppers are not your target audience, where are the shoppers going to come from?"

Temasek Polytechnic student Chua Jiaxuan, 21, who was waiting for a friend at Scotts, said: "I've only been here one or two times. The average Singaporean won't come here. It's more than I can afford."

However, Wheelock Properties group general manager of marketing Stephanie Taysaid: "Some of the current retailers are due for renewal or are completing their lease term. This gives us the opportunity to tweak our tenant mix and refresh our offerings."

Some of Scotts' stalwarts, such as fashion brand Michael Kors, restaurant Wild Honey and shoe retailer On Pedder, continue to thrive, drawing on regulars and the strength of their brand.

Unconventional newcomers such as pop-up concept space K+ and art gallery Red Square are also garnering attention.

Red Square gallery manager Alyssa Kaur, 23, said: "We hear from a lot of customers that they are attracted by our art, which they can see from the street.

"If it were a regular retail store, though, I don't think it would be the same."

oliviaho@sph.com.sg