Customer turns up at 4am, 7 hours before opening of Courts flagship store at The Heeren

The new 189,000 sq ft outlet opened this month ahead of its planned roll-out early next year. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Hairdresser Diva C. turned up at The Heeren at 4am on Saturday (Nov 6) - seven hours before home appliance megastore Courts opened a flagship outlet.

While she was the first customer in line on Saturday, she had already visited the outlet once before after it first opened to Courts HomeClub members from Wednesday to Friday.

By the time the Orchard store opened at 11am, there were 50 people in line, drawn by the chance to snag deals such as gift vouchers - including one valued at $500.

"I came early because I was afraid there would be a big crowd today and I couldn't get the items (on promotion) that I wanted - like a television set and a fryer," she said. Special promotion items were limited to one per customer, so she had to make a return trip to make another purchase.

Ms Raashidha Farveen, 23, came with her mother after she had done her homework on possible savings, having compared Courts prices with those on e-commerce websites.

"Shopping in a physical store, you can see the quality is on point and you don't have to worry about things like warranty issues," said the student, who was eyeing television deals in particular.

The new 189,000 sq ft outlet opened this month ahead of its planned roll-out early next year, in order to catch the year-end shopping crowd. Spanning six floors, it took over the space vacated by retail giant Robinsons.

On Saturday, only three floors, which offer electrical, IT, furniture and bedding products, were launched.

Among the shopping experiences is an e-sports gaming room capable of hosting tournaments. The new store also aims to showcase the latest technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality.

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Speaking to The Straits Times, Mr Hoang Duc Thanh Matthew, Courts Singapore chief executive and Courts Asia chief operating officer, said people still want physical shopping experiences.

"We focus a lot on the human element… everyone has had to work, eat and shop from home. It's been stressful. But here they have someone to guide them, answer their questions and provide them with hospitality," he added.

The remaining three floors, in basement one and on levels four and five, are scheduled to be opened in the first quarter of next year.

Courts Nojima will be the megastore's largest retail space in Singapore and second flagship store after the Tampines one.

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On Wednesday, the company said it would close an existing outlet at 228 Orchard Road.

Saturday's opening marks Nojima's first overseas venture into a large-format store concept in a central location of Singapore. The Japanese consumer electronics giant acquired Courts - which has 14 other outlets islandwide - in 2019.

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