Home-grown electronics retailer Newstead in liquidation; slated to be IT anchor for new Funan mall

The Newstead outlet at Suntec City on Oct 8, 2018. On the same day, the company's listing on Acra's business filing portal indicated that its status was "in liquidation - creditors' voluntary winding up".
The Newstead outlet at Suntec City on Oct 8, 2018. Established in 1998, Newstead owns brands such as Digital Style, nubox, and @notebook.com, and has outlets in several shopping malls here. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - Home-grown electronics retailer Newstead Technologies, which owns brands such as Apple reseller nubox, is currently in liquidation.

On Monday night (Oct 8), a Newstead Technologies listing on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority's (Acra's) business filing portal indicated that the company's status was "in liquidation - creditors' voluntary winding up".

This refers to the process in which a company's assets are collected and sold in order to pay its debts. Any monies remaining after all debts, expenses and costs have been paid off are distributed among the shareholders of the company. When the winding up has been completed, the company is formally dissolved and will cease to exist.

Though companies may be legally compelled to wind up, shareholders or the creditors of the company can themselves apply to wind up the company in proceedings. This is known as "voluntary winding up".

Established in 1998, Newstead owns brands such as Digital Style, nubox, and @notebook.com, and has outlets in several shopping malls here.

The Straits Times reported in 2017 that the retailer was to be the largest IT anchor for the new Funan shopping centre when it opens in 2019. Newstead had originally intended to occupy multiple concept stores in the new mall, spread across 15,000 sq ft.

A spokesman for CapitaLand, which manages Funan, told ST that it had not yet heard from Newstead about its liquidation.

A spokesman for Sim Lim Square, a shopping centre where Newstead runs 16 stalls, said that the company has not informed the mall about any plans to close. The mall's spokesman said that Newstead's stalls were still serving customers on Monday.

A spokesman for an organiser of IT shows which Newstead has been a major participant of for almost two decades, said that the company had pulled out of an upcoming November IT fair.

The spokesman said that two Fridays ago, Newstead told the show's organisers it had problems fulfilling its obligations to use the space which it had reserved. When Newstead later failed to meet a deadline to provide written confirmation that it would occupy the space, the fair organiser had no choice but to give its space to another company.

The spokesman added that Newstead had earlier also pulled out of most of the space it was supposed to occupy at a September IT fair, four weeks before the show started.

When contacted, Newstead declined to comment.

Despite the flurry of discussion online surrounding the issue, there was no sign of the retailer's troubles on its Facebook page. As recently as last Friday, posts continued to be made advertising several of its products.

But on Saturday, a screenshot of the company's listing on Acra indicating that it was in liquidation was uploaded to online forum HardwareZone.

As of Monday night, several listings for career opportunities at Newstead remained on job portal JobStreet.com, including a listing made as recently as Oct 5.

News of Newsteads issues caught some neighbouring tenants of the retailer's stores by surprise.

Mr Peter Lee, the manager of The Travel Store just next to the Newstead outlet at nex, said he was not aware of the retailer's troubles.

"I go smoking with some of the staff at the store, and they never mentioned any difficulties the store might be going through," said Mr Lee.

A staff member from Eden Technology and Services Centre, just opposite a Newstead outlet on Sim Lim Square's second floor, said he first heard about the retailer's issues on social media.

The staff member, who did not want to be named, said it was shocking news and that he knew nothing of Newstead's problems despite being so physically near one of its stores.

"I used to work at Newstead four years ago and back then the business was stable," he said. "I still have friends there now and many have been saying that they will soon be out of a job."

While some consumers like treasury advisor Gladys Chong, 24, were also not aware that Newstead was in liquidation, Ms Chong said it was not surprising that an electronics company was facing difficulties.

"Competition is fierce in this sector," she said, adding that she had not shopped at any of Newstead's stores before.

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