The new chief executive of Tangs has plans to navigate the department store through the choppy retail scene.
Mr Kevin Dyson, who was appointed to helm the store from April 1, plans to step up the game online as well as offer exclusive mechandise to set it apart from the "same-same" offerings in other malls, particularly in Orchard Road.
"It cannot be business as usual, particularly in the digital age, which isn't going away. We have to embrace change," Mr Dyson told The Straits Times in an exclusive interview this week.
The retailer invested about $1 million last year to enhance its online platform and relaunched the Tangs.com website in November. It will introduce an online technology called Metail next month.
It will allow customers to input their body measurements to see how a particular garment would look on an avatar with a similar body shape. The new function will be available for selected women's apparel brands for a start and could include more collections in the future.
Mr Dyson, formerly Tangs' chief operating officer, believes the online platform has good potential to tap the global market if the store can bring in more unique products. One strategy is to seek out products on its own and cut back on the number of "concessionary or consignment" arrangements with various vendors, which see them selling their mechandise at the store .
"We need to raise the percentage of products that we carry in the store that will be our 'own-buys'," he said. "When we buy our own merchandise, that's when the (profit) margin can be higher, at about 50 per cent."
This is higher than about 30 per cent that Tangs earns from vendor sales under the consignment and concessionary models. In the past year, Tangs has increased its "own-buys" stock of products by 10 per cent, to about 25 per cent.
Tangs is also looking to partner LaSalle College of the Arts again this year to showcase ready-to- wear collections by budding fashion designers from the school.
Last year, eight LaSalle students sold their creations at a 750 sq ft pop-up store at Tangs from August to mid-September.
"It sets us apart from the competition. It is not available online, it is not available anywhere outside of Singapore, it is not even available anywhere in Singapore at that time, other than at Tangs," said Mr Dyson, 51.
After completing a $45 million facelift on the Orchard Road store, he said there is a "tremendous opportunity" to revamp its second outlet at VivoCity to include more lifestyle concepts. However, much will hinge on the renegotiation of the lease, which is up in October.
VivoCity is a property in Mapletree Commercial Trust's portfolio.
"We spent 10 years building a business in VivoCity, and we feel comfortable enhancing it, but that said, we understand there are a lot of options available to us."
He added that Tangs has been "approached by a lot of different shopping centres".
Mr Dyson said total sales were up by a "single-digit" percentage last year compared with 2014.