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Robinsons Singapore throws in the towel after 162 years

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LYNETTE TAN

ROBINSONS Singapore, one of the oldest retailers in the Republic with more than a century in business, will close down for good following losses in recent years. But its last two stores at The Heeren and Raffles City Shopping Centre may remain open for a while more for final sales.

The Business Times (BT) on Thursday found that the department store operator had been put under a creditors’ voluntary winding-up.

Robinson & Co (Singapore) confirmed it in a statement on Friday. Its senior general manager, Danny Lim, said: “We regret this outcome today. Despite recent challenges in the industry, the Robinsons team continued to pursue the success of the brand. However, the changing consumer landscape makes it difficult for us to succeed over the long term and the Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated our challenges.”

He added that it has been “an honour” for Robinsons to serve the Singapore market and that he was “grateful for the dedication of (the) team, and for the support shown by (its) customers over the years”

Robinsons employees have been informed by management and the provisional liquidators of this news. The company said that employees will be paid in line with the next payment cycle, “well in advance of the usual liquidation process timing which would usually take months”.

The exit puts an end to at least six years of losses that Robinsons has chalked up against declining revenues.

Financial records show that the company made a loss after tax from continuing operations of S$26.5 million in 2014. It sank further into the red up until 2018, when it recorded losses of S$54.4 million. The exception to this was in 2015, when it narrowed its losses to S$17.4 million.

Meanwhile, Robinsons’ topline shrunk. It generated S$153.8 million in revenue in 2018, down from the S$257.3 million it made in 2014.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Robinsons has shown signs of further strain with the closure of its 85,000 sq ft outlet at Jem shopping mall in May. At the time, it had similarly told BT that competition from the rapid increase in suburban malls had made having multiple, large-scale department stores in Singapore unsustainable “well before” the pandemic surfaced. Even so, “the challenges we are facing with the ongoing Covid-19 situation are extremely difficult and the uncertainty is very unsettling for all”, it added.

Robinsons said its stores in Malaysia, located at Shoppes at Four Seasons Place and The Gardens Mall, will also undergo a similar liquidation process concurrently.

Other department stores could find themselves in Robinsons’ shoes.

In August, Japanese department store operator Isetan Singapore recorded a net loss of S$317,000 for the quarter to June 30, compared with a net profit of S$1.6 million in the same period a year earlier. This was mainly due to a decline in sales as well as impairment losses on financial assets.

It had also warned that the retail environment remains “very challenging” and that a material recovery is not expected in 2020.

Robinson’s Singapore, set up over a century ago in 1858 by John Spicer, an immigrant from Australia and Philip Robinson, a former jail keeper in Singapore, in Commercial Square (now Raffles Place) as Spicer and Robinson, once one of Singapore’s largest retailers. It was apparently to Malayans what Harrods is to Londoners. Spicer left the business in 1859 when it became Robinson and Co.



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HNB joins CBSL to promote ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ campaign in Kandy

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HNB PLC once again joined the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) to promote the ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ campaign to raise awareness and encourage the public in the Kandy district towards a cashless payment ecosystem.

HNB, together with other financial institutions and telecommunication partners, participated in the day-long event held at the Kandy City Center. The bank raised awareness regarding its LANKAQR integrated HNB SOLO payment app while onboarding merchants during the promotional campaign.

“During the early stages of the pandemic we witnessed many of our customers and members of the public seamlessly adopt our cashless and contactless payment app HNB SOLO. With COVID and the subsequent launch of the ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ campaign the number of users of these types of systems have increased exponentially.

“Given that the mutual vision of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and HNB is for a financially and technologically empowered Sri Lanka, HNB is proud to serve as an enthusiastic partner to roll out LANKAQR island-wide. The fact that we now have merchants in the cultural capital of Sri Lanka making this shift is another major milestone in this digitalization journey,” HNB Deputy General Manager – Retail and SME Banking, Sanjay Wijemanne said.

 

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ComBank’s ATM network sets new records for cash dispensed during festive season

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The automated teller machine (ATM) network of Commercial Bank of Ceylon dispensed a record Rs 8.818 billion on 9th and 10th April 2021, shattering the previous records for the highest and second highest cash disbursements for a 24-hour period, as Sri Lanka’s leading private bank facilitated the celebration of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

The disbursements of Rs 4.498 billion on April 9 and Rs 4.320 billion on the following day represented a substantial increase over the single-day values recorded in previous years.

In total, Commercial Bank dispensed Rs 41.748 billion via its ATM network between 1st and 15th April 2021 at an average of Rs 2.783 billion per day, reaffirming the indispensable role it plays in the lives of Sri Lankans, as well as the reliability and robustness of the network. On seven of these 15 days the network dispensed more than Rs 2 billion a day, and on five days disbursements exceeded Rs 3 billion a day, the Bank said.

Comprising of 890 ATMs, the network processed 2.434 million transactions over the 15 days at an average of 168,988 transactions a day, while on 9th April, the number of transactions processed totalled 233,990 at an average of 9,749 transactions per hour or 162 transactions per minute.

The first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World and the only Sri Lankan bank to be so listed for 10 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 268 branches in Sri Lanka. The Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the bank operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a Microfinance company in Nay Pyi Taw; and the Maldives, where the bank has a fully-fledged Tier I Bank with a majority stake.

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‘Ceylinco VIP Cyber Tharu’ to showcase Sri Lankan talent

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Ceylinco General Insurance has announced an online competition with a novel concept to showcase Sri Lankan talent by providing a platform for them with the opportunity to win handsome cash prizes.

“This time, our effort is to organize an online competition that provides an opportunity for Sri Lankan people to display their talent and also to identify hidden talents whilst rewarding them. There will be five overall winners whose prize money will be over Rs. 1 million and each category winner will get Rs 100,000/-. Ten randomly picked voters too will receive handsome cash awards,” said Patrick Alwis, chairman CEO of Ceylinco General Insurance.

The guidelines and the criteria of the competition were announced recently through a dedicated website and other social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, twitter, You Tube as well as LinkedIn. Contestants can perform under five categories, namely, singing, dancing, instrumental performances, fashion modelling and funny videos / Standup comedy. Individuals over 18 years could perform under the individual category whilst the group category will have no age limit.

Under the group category either families or a group of friends could take part. Each entry will have to be specially recorded for this competition. Prior to recording the performance, they should download the image of the logo and have it displayed prominently in the background. Performances could be recorded using a smart phone or a video cam.

 

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