WALK along the third floor of Far East Plaza and you might think you are seeing double.
Just metres apart are two shops with the same signage - silver font against a marble grey background - and clothes and shoes arranged in a strikingly similar fashion.
The shop names are also terribly similar, with unit #03-105 called ManneQueen and the unit at #03-100 called ManneQuIn.
This has left some customers understandably confused and prompted one shop - ManneQueen - to put up a sign to let customers know that it has only one outlet in the shopping mall along Orchard Road.
Student Lesley Lim, 20, had intended to look at clothes in ManneQueen but found herself in ManneQuIn instead.
"Actually, I read about ManneQueen's collection on a blog and wanted to check it out," she said. "But I went up on the escalator closer to the other shop, so I went in there first."
ManneQueen's shop manager declined to speak to The Straits Times but a shop assistant, who wanted to be known only as Patricia, claimed that her shop had been set up first.
"After we renovated in April last year, we were surprised to see a shop that looked just like us nearby," she claimed.
She added that they put in a complaint to the mall's management but were told that it could not do anything other than issue a few warnings.
ManneQuIn's store manager declined to speak to The Straits Times.
Retail expert Sarah Lim said that the shops had no firm grounds for legal action unless one of them had copyrighted its shop design or trademarked its name.
"In a strata title mall like Far East Plaza, where the management has little control over tenants, it would be difficult for either shop to force a change," added Ms Lim, who is a senior lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic's business school.
Seah Seng Choon, executive director of the Consumers Association of Singapore, said that no customers have complained about the two shops to date.
"We would advise consumers to check the unit number carefully if they wish to patronise a specific store," he said.
Patricia noted, however, that there has not been any real effect on business despite the confusion.
"We don't want to start any quarrels," she said. "So what we have tried to do is distinguish ourselves by providing leather care services, changing our mannequins and wearing staff uniforms."
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