Neverland closes Orchard outlet

Neverland closes Orchard outlet
Neverland, which pioneered the concept of live Asian-fusion entertainment in Singapore, hopes to reopen in a new location.

After a six-year run, home- grown nightlife brand Neverland will be closing the outlet where it pioneered the concept of live Asian-fusion entertainment in Singapore.

The group will be moving out of the 10,000 sq ft venue in Orchard Plaza due to an 80 per cent increase in rent, and is hoping to re-open in a new location by mid-November.

Its last day of operations at the club is Sept 30. A series of "moving out" parties will be held at the club from tomorrow until Tuesday.

The Neverland Group is the second nightlife operator to announce its closure in a span of a month due to rental woes.

Early this month, The Butter Factory said it would be closing its 8,000 sq ft club at One Fullerton when its lease ends next March, as it could not reach an agreement about rent with its landlord Sino Group.

The Neverland Group's co-owners Kwek Kon Chun, 35, and Eugene Tin, 36, tell Life! the decision to move was an "extremely difficult but, in the end, a logical one to make".

They did not reveal how much rent the club pays each month or who their landlord is, but say their rent was recently hiked by 80 per cent.

Mr Kwek says: "Not only does the increase make it impossible to sustain any kind of entertainment business, but is also way out of line with current economic or market trends."

Still, co-owner Mr Tin is "excited for the new opportunities ahead" and says the closure of the club is a chance "to finally upgrade to a better environment for our customers".

He says: "We would rather invest the money (for the rental increase) to pamper our customers with a better sound system, better lighting features, more comfortable seating and a generally more pleasing environment to be in."

Club Neverland at Orchard Plaza opened its doors in 2009 and was one of the few prominent clubs here to introduce the "Thai-disco" concept, where singers and dancers from Thailand would perform on stage to a live backing band.

Customers showed their appreciation by buying garlands for the performers.

Over the years, Neverland transitioned from a Thai disco to an Asian-fusion live entertainment club, featuring singers and dancers from Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea. This concept is now adopted by dozens of clubs in the nightlife scene.

The club did well and soon its owners expanded their business.

The group now runs several nightclubs in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, incuding club Sonar at Orchard Hotel, Neverland II at St James Power Station and Pixie Mansion (formerly Neverland KL) in Kuala Lumpur. It opened another outlet, Pixie Luxe in Scotts Garden, earlier this year in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Kwek says he is unable to reveal more details about the Neverland relaunch, except that the new outlet will be located in town and will open in mid-November.

In the meantime, some of Neverland's performers and staff will be transferred to other outlets. A few of their foreign entertainers have also asked to take unpaid leave to return to their home countries before returning when Neverland reopens.

Neverland regular Erwin Chia, 39, who owns a cosmetics factory and his own beauty business, is looking forward to the club's relaunch.

Mr Chia, who enjoys the club's atmosphere and the friendly service staff, says: "There's a lot of competition from small clubs doing the same concept as them now. So maybe it's a good time for a new concept. But the place is great. All the customers and people who work there are my friends."

melk@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Sep 24, 2014.
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