Crabtree and Evelyn to close stores as it goes online only

Half-empty shelves in Crabtree and Evelyn's VivoCity outlet yesterday. Long queues were seen at the United Kingdom-based bath and body product retailer's in-store closing-down sales in Singapore during the Christmas period, with discounts of up to 70
Half-empty shelves in Crabtree and Evelyn's VivoCity outlet yesterday. Long queues were seen at the United Kingdom-based bath and body product retailer's in-store closing-down sales in Singapore during the Christmas period, with discounts of up to 70 per cent.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Bankruptcy protection filed in Canada; some of its 12 S'pore outlets already empty of goods

Bath and body product retailer Crabtree and Evelyn will be shutting its 12 stores here in the coming months as it moves its operations online, with some outlets already emptied of goods.

The United Kingdom-based company filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada last month amid "significant losses" that it attributed to changing consumer demand, the rise of e-commerce and long-term declines in traditional retail traffic, according to Canadian news reports.

The Straits Times understands that Crabtree and Evelyn is moving its business fully online, and that all physical stores will be closing in phases over the next few months save for a new retail concept store in the London borough of Islington.

The company declined to comment when contacted.

Long queues were seen at its in-store closing-down sales in Singapore during the Christmas period, with discounts of up to 70 per cent on items such as gift sets and skincare products.

Its stores at Suntec City and Plaza Singapura were not open when The Straits Times visited over the last two days, while outlets at Raffles City, Ngee Ann City, Paragon and VivoCity still had items for sale on half-empty shelves.

The Straits Times understands that Crabtree and Evelyn is moving its business fully online, and that all physical stores will be closing in phases over the next few months save for a new retail concept store in the London borough of Islington.

ST understands that the brand's VIP membership programme ceased on Dec 31, and a new programme is being created for customers of the e-commerce site. All existing points must be redeemed and vouchers used by Jan 31.

Some customers complained on Crabtree and Evelyn's Singapore Facebook page that they were left with hundreds of dollars' worth of vouchers as they could not be used on discounted items.

ST understands that non-sale products will be made available from Jan 9 to Jan 31 at the Crabtree and Evelyn Paragon and Ngee Ann City stores for voucher use, while stocks last.

Crabtree and Evelyn, founded in the United States in 1972, is currently owned by Hong Kong in-vestment holding company Nan Hai Corporation.

According to Nan Hai's 2018 interim report, Crabtree and Evelyn is investing in optimising its supply chain and research and development, with 58 new products expected to be launched this year.

It is also developing its online sales platforms, with e-commerce sites launched in countries such as Australia, Singapore and Malaysia as of last year.

Nan Hai did not respond to queries.

Crabtree and Evelyn had previously filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and closed some of its stores there in 2009, when the company was owned by Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad, a Malaysian multinational company.

Housewife Lillian Loh, who bought two bath and skincare gift sets from the Ngee Ann City outlet yesterday, said she was sad to see the stores go.

"They have the best hand creams and soap. At least I can still buy them online," said Ms Loh, 34.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2019, with the headline 'Crabtree and Evelyn to close stores as it goes online only'. Print Edition | Subscribe