ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter
Retail

Singapore department store icon Robinsons ends 162-year run

Born in British colonial era, chain succumbs to online competition and coronavirus

Robinsons department stores have been a fixture in Singapore since 1858. (Photo courtesy of Robinsons & Co.)

SINGAPORE -- After 162 years in operation, Singapore's storied department store chain Robinsons will shut down for good after losing the battle against online retailers and the pandemic.

Robinsons has initiated the liquidation process, the operator said Friday. The two remaining stores in Singapore will hold closeout sales for a few weeks before shuttering. The affiliate that runs two Robinsons in Malaysia will be liquidated as well.

The parent company, Dubai conglomerate Al-Futtaim Group, made the decision to close the chain.

Robinsons debuted in 1858 during the British colonial period. The company opened large department stores in prime locations such as the Orchard Road business district.

Though the Robinsons brand became ingrained in Singapore, sales have languished in the past few years. The Singaporean business posted losses for six consecutive years since 2014, according to a local newspaper.

The shift to online retailing weakened the brick-and-mortar department store model, Robinsons' operator said, and the impact was compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Singapore's retail industry has struggled to stay afloat since the city-state shut its borders to tourists in response to the coronavirus. In August, Robinsons closed a location at a suburban shopping mall.

Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. once owned a large chunk of Robinsons, then sold the chain to Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group. In 2008, Al-Futtaim stepped in to acquire Robinsons.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends July 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more