Robinson liquidating two department stores here


Hard hit: The surge in Covid-19 cases over the past few weeks has affected the retail sector badly, forcing players like Robinson to close shop.

PETALING JAYA: The surge in Covid-19 cases over the past few weeks is wreaking havoc on the local retail sector, with some outlets temporarily shutting down or completely ceasing operations.

One industry observer said the pandemic has left many retailers floundering.

“The business model of a mall is to pull in the crowds. But how can malls do that when consumers are afraid to go out?”

He added that the government’s conditional movement control order (CMCO) in the Klang Valley had also exacerbated things.

“This has forced many people to stay indoors and limit their visits to malls or resort to online purchases, ” he said.

Yesterday, Robinson Co (Malaya) Sdn Bhd said it will be liquidating its two department stores in Malaysia which are located at The Gardens Mall and Shoppes at Four Seasons Place.

Robinson Co said the changing consumer landscape, coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic, had exacerbated operational challenges.

“Globally, retail buying patterns are seeing significant shifts from offline to online spending with the Global Ecommerce 2020 report showing that Asia Pacific will produce nearly 63% of all digital sales this year.

“Furthermore, demand for department store concepts has weakened significantly with reports showing drop in retail sales, recording a negative growth rate of 8.5% in Malaysia for the first quarter of 2020, as compared to the same period a year ago.”

In Malaysia, Robinson Co said the retail industry recorded the worst growth rate in 33 years, with the outlook remaining negative for the remaining months of the year as consumers are expected to tighten their spending.

“More department store closures have been announced in the past months with more expected as department stores in particular continue to struggle. The negative effects of Covid-19 have made its impact more acute.” Robinson Co said Datuk Robert Teo Keng Tuan of RSM Malaysia has been appointed as interim liquidator.

“The provisional liquidator will now take control of the company’s assets and assess options to realise value in order to maximise returns to creditors.

“Subject to confirmation, the liquidators are hoping the stores will remain open for the coming weeks to facilitate final sales for customers before they are shuttered.”

In the same statement, Robinson senior general manager Danny Lim said 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.

“We have enjoyed success over the years, and it has been an honour for Robinsons to serve the Malaysian market. I am grateful for the dedication of our team, and for the support shown by our customers over the years.”

He added that Robinsons employees were yesterday informed by management and the provisional liquidators of the announcement.

“They have been assured that the provisional liquidators will now work to maximise returns to creditors, including employees. Robinsons management has ensured that employees are supported with a payment in keeping with liquidation regulations.

“Further, these payments will be made to them in line with the next payment cycle; well in advance of the usual liquidation process timing which would usually take months.”

Lim said the liquidators will reach out to the relevant government authorities to support employees during this liquidation period.

“Concurrently, Robinsons stores in Singapore, located at The Heeren and Raffles City Shopping Centre will also undergo a similar liquidation process with the appointment of Cameron Duncan and David Kim from KordaMentha as provisional liquidators.”

The fits of stop-and-start resulting from the MCO has also resulted in cinema operators nationwide to temporarily suspend operations from November, until further notice.

An industry observer said now would be a good time to work on a recovery strategy, once cinemas are allowed to open up again. “With many movies being pushed to next year, some even to 2022, what cinemas can do once things improve is to bring back older movies, but at a fraction of normal ticketing costs.

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