New Funan to focus on fun and creativity

A virtual reality simulation of what the inside of Funan mall will look like when the mall opens in the fourth quarter of 2019. ST VIDEO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Funan's retail show suite will open this weekend at the junction of Hill and High streets. It will host programmes such as leathercraft workshops for the public.
Funan's retail show suite will open this weekend at the junction of Hill and High streets. It will host programmes such as leathercraft workshops for the public.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Tenants include 380-seat theatre managed by W!ld Rice

The firm behind the new Funan shopping centre wants visitors to experience a mall of the future when it is ready in 2019 .

The mall, part of a mixed-use development, will have a strong emphasis on local creative talent in technology, the arts and design.

Experiential retail will also be a key focus, with workshops and spaces for consumers to test products and new technologies.

Yesterday, developer CapitaLand Mall Trust unveiled a slew of new tenants, in addition to brands such as Golden Village (GV), foodcourt operator Kopitiam and rock climbing facility Climb Central.

About a quarter of the tenants of the mall's total retail net lettable area of about 324,000 sq ft, which spans six floors, have been confirmed. The third floor will be dedicated to IT retailers, and there will be a futsal court on the rooftop.

Among the new tenants are local theatre company W!ld Rice, which will design, manage and programme a 380-seat theatre, supermarket chain FairPrice Finest, local design collective Keepers and jewellery label Carrie K.

Three retailers from the former Funan DigitaLife mall, which closed last June after 31 years, will be returning.

Newstead Technologies will be the mall's largest IT anchor, with multiple concept stores spread across 15,000 sq ft.

AddOn Systems will run Singapore's Lenovo flagship and service centre, and hold workshops on cyber security, while TK Foto will have a test zone for drone videography and photography.

Funan's vice-president of retail development Kevin Siew said the mall is hoping to woo back more of its former IT tenants, but retailers should understand that "business as usual is not an option".

It is an opportunity for CapitaLand to challenge conventional definitions of shopping centres, he said.

For example, even big brands such as GV and FairPrice are doing "something bigger and better in terms of the offerings (they have) both online and offline", he said.

GV will offer a multi-sensory movie experience, while FairPrice is looking at a "supermarket of the future" concept.

Funan's retail show suite will open this weekend at the junction of Hill and High streets. It will host programmes such as leathercraft workshops for the public.


Funan’s retail show suite for the mall will open this weekend, at the junction of Hill Street and High streets. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

The suite shares design elements with Funan's centrepiece, The Tree of Life, which will offer a temporary space for entrepreneurs to hold classes or pilot concepts.

Ms Esther Ho, deputy director at Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management, said the mall's focus on the experiential reflects a trend among brands to connect with consumers on an emotional level. "It's quite cool and offers something different from what other malls are doing now," she added.

But Singapore Polytechnic senior retail lecturer Sarah Lim noted that it would not hurt to bring in one or two high-street brands "to make sure that products on offer are available at a range of prices".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2017, with the headline 'New Funan to focus on fun and creativity'. Print Edition | Subscribe