Robinsons closes flagship store at The Heeren

Customers at the Heeren outlet of Robinsons on Dec 16, 2020.
Customers at the Heeren outlet of Robinsons on Dec 16, 2020.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
A customer leaving the Heeren outlet of Robinsons on Dec 16, 2020.
A customer leaving the Heeren outlet of Robinsons on Dec 16, 2020.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
The Heeren outlet is open to customers on its last day between 11am and 2pm.
The Heeren outlet is open to customers on its last day between 11am and 2pm.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
Discounts of up to 99 per cent were applied to the remaining stock, a menagerie of things often found in busy stores.
Discounts of up to 99 per cent were applied to the remaining stock, a menagerie of things often found in busy stores.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - When the last customers left Robinsons’ outlet at The Heeren at 2pm on Wednesday (Dec 16), the doors closed on the flagship store of an iconic 162-year-old department store.

Earlier in the day, the store was open to customers between 11am and 2pm for one final hurrah.

About 30 people were there when The Straits Times visited at 11.15am, some to pick through the remains – odds and ends, and fixtures available for sale on the first floor of the retail institution, which occupies six floors and 186,000 sq feet in the heart of Orchard Road.

Discounts of up to 99 per cent were applied to the remaining stock, a menagerie of things  - hangers, mannequins and some armchairs.

A Robinsons spokesman previously said that all stock will be sold and consignment stock will be removed and reallocated by the owners.

Others were there to reminisce; to bid farewell to a slice of Singapore that by all accounts appeared sturdy, fortified by its bricks and mortar.

Ms Aileen Leng, 63, was there for one last visit. 

“When (Japanese store) Yaohan and other department stores left, we felt sad. But Robinsons’ closure is especially sad because it’s a local brand and part of our history,” the housewife added. 

Ms Gina Toon, 65, wanted to pick up a bargain.

She had been eyeing a handbag that was originally priced at $750 but was discounted to $150 when she visited on Tuesday night.

But the store had been picked clean, leaving the cook disappointed.

Even so, Mr Chen Luning, 56, found the fixtures a good buy.

"It is hard to find hangers like these. Those sold elsewhere are usually made of plastic but the ones here are wooden and come with clips," said Mr Chen, who is between jobs.

Robinsons' last outlet at Raffles City will remain in operation for now. A spokesman said no date for its closure has been set yet.

But it too will go.

The department store had 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.

Before they ended their day at The Heeren outlet, the staff had busied themselves, packing up items, including toys and perfume, for transfer to the Raffles City outlet.

As shoppers eyed a slice of Robinsons to take home, the employees dutifully placed price tags on the items, making clear everything has a price.

Mr Anthony Lim, 45, who worked as a store manager with Robinsons for 10 years at The Heeren outlet as well as at Raffles City, said: “Robinsons is a close-knit community. 

“I thought they would at least keep The Heeren outlet which is the flagship store... with the most exclusive merchandise.”

Currently a branch manager at a supermarket chain, he added that he is in touch with his former colleagues, some of whom tell him they are at a loss about their the future. 

“They haven’t received their compensation package and for those at Raffles City, they don’t know their last day,” said Mr Lim. The staff at The Heeren outlet knew.

A Robinsons spokesman, confirming their last day, said: “The employees at The Heeren will finish up on Wednesday.”