SINGAPORE - Home appliance megastore Courts will take over the prime retail space at The Heeren which was recently vacated by retail stalwart Robinsons and make the outlet its new flagship store.
The flagship store will occupy all six storeys of The Heeren's retail space, making it Courts' largest outlet in Singapore when it opens in the first quarter of 2022.
When completed, the Heeren store will span 189,000 sq ft and replace the Tampines megastore as the chain's flagship outlet.
Swee Cheng Holdings, which owns The Heeren, said Courts fitted into its long-term plans for the mall but added that it has also been approached by other parties.
"In view of the uncertainties arising from a prolonged Covid situation, we are confident that Courts' proposed retail plans will do well at The Heeren," it said.
Echoing similar sentiment, Ms Esther Ho, director of Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management, said: "With customers not traveling, many are likely to dress up their homes and invest in consumer electronics. It's good that Courts is moving quickly to capture this segment of customers during this period."
Its opening will also mark Nojima Corporation's first overseas venture into a large-format store concept in a central location of Singapore.
The Japanese consumer electronics giant had acquired Courts in 2019.
On Courts' choice of The Heeren as its newest location, Courts Singapore chief executive Hoang Duc Thanh Matthew said: "The Heeren is still a symbolic landmark located right in the heart of Orchard Road and we believe it holds great potential as a central location within the shopping belt."
"Coupled with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)'s long-term plans to rejuvenate Orchard Road as a lifestyle destination, we envision that the new flagship store will contribute to the vibrancy of the retail sector."
Currently, Courts has one outlet in Orchard, at 228 Orchard Road. A Courts spokesman told The Straits Times that the outlet has been performing well and will remain in operation for now.
"We will review our plans again once the flagship store is up and running," said Courts.
Mr Lucas Tok, digital marketing and branding lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic, noted the success of Courts' current Orchard outlet, even though it is not in a prime spot along the tourist and shopping belt.
"When you put the new outlet at the centre, you will expect an even higher footfall," he said.
The Orchard shopping belt was also home to its first store here, which opened in 1974.
"We are looking forward to expanding our presence in Orchard Road to where it all began and raise the bar further in offering Singaporeans innovative and experiential retail experiences while shopping for electronics and home furnishings," said Courts.
In 2017, the URA said in a joint statement with Singapore Tourism Board that they are looking into implementing an "actionable Orchard Road Blueprint".
The authorities said the blueprint was to guide the precinct's development over the next 15 to 20 years.
Courts' announcement comes after Robinsons closed its flagship store at The Heeren on Dec 16.
This was followed shortly after by the closure of its last outlet at Raffles City last Saturday.
The department store announced on Oct 30 the closure of its last two outlets here, saying the decision to liquidate was prompted by a range of factors, including changing consumer tastes and cost pressures such as rent.
Asked if the products at The Heeren would be different from those at other stores, Courts said it intends to maintain its price promise policy of offering the lowest prices to customers.
"We focus on price, value and great service at Courts. It will be the same model at our new flagship store," said Courts.
Mr Tok noted that when Robinsons moved from The Centrepoint to The Heeren, its product offering became more upscale.
"Whether we will see a similar change in brand strategy for Courts remains to be seen," he said.