Marks & Spencer to shut Raffles City outlet but its 10 other stores will stay open

Shoppers at the Marks & Spencer outlet in Raffles City Shopping Centre during its closing down sale on Dec 10, 2020. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - British retailer Marks & Spencer will be closing its outlet at Raffles City Shopping Centre on Dec 31, but its 10 other stores islandwide will remain open.

The update comes after the company placed an advertisement in The Straits Times on Thursday (Dec 10), about a "moving out sale" at its Raffles City shop.

In the advertisement, it said that there are discounts of up to 70 per cent for its items. The closure on Dec 31 will bring to an end 34 years of operation in the location.

A Marks & Spencer spokesman told The Straits Times on Friday that all affected staff will be relocated to other stores or redeployed in the business.

Asked if there are plans to close other Marks & Spencer outlets, the spokesman said: "Marks & Spencer... remains fully committed to the local market and is continually looking to explore growth opportunities for business here in Singapore."

Both Marks & Spencer and sister brand Robinsons are part of the Dubai-based Al-Futtaim group, owned by Emirati tycoon Abdulla Al Futtaim and run by his son Omar, according to Forbes.

In October, Robinsons announced its exit after 162 years of operations in Singapore. It has continued to keep its last two stores at The Heeren and Raffles City open for closing-down sales.

Its liquidators told The Business Times that Robinsons' flagship store at The Heeren will close on Dec 16, but said that they are still in talks with the landlord at Raffles City.

The Marks & Spencer branch at Raffles City is the only one closing as the lease is signed under Robinsons, BT reported.

When The Straits Times visited the outlet at about 6.30pm on Thursday, there was no queue to enter the store, which had sales posters displayed at the entrance and in many spots in the shop.

Shoppers visit the Marks & Spencer outlet in Raffles City Shopping Centre during their closing down sale on Dec 10, 2020. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Ms Marilyn Ng, who works in the finance sector, was there with her husband to buy clothes.

Ms Ng said she happened to be doing some Christmas shopping in the area, and chanced upon the sale at Marks & Spencer.

Mr Ng, who is in her 40s, said that she has been shopping at Marks & Spencer for about 20 years, and regularly buys clothes and food from the retailer.

As for the moving out sale, Ms Ng said it did not appear unusual to her, since it is the festive season and many shops are having sales.

The shop's staff said that the department store is just moving out of the Raffles City outlet, but is not closing down, and that its other outlets will stay open.

The retail chain had opened a pop-up outlet on the first floor of Waterway Point in Punggol in late October, that will operate for six months.

Marks & Spencer also said that it had no intention of closing its "thriving business" in Singapore, although the franchise has not been making as much recently, recording earnings of $101,613 in 2018, down from $2.9 million in 2017.

- Additional reporting by Jessie Lim

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