Coach to be first luxury retailer in Singapore suburban mall

Singapore - American brand Coach is set to become the first big luxury retailer to open a boutique store in a Singapore suburban mall.

It has leased nearly 2,000 sq ft of space at Jurong's Westgate mall, due to open its doors before Christmas, mall manager CapitaMalls Asia told The Straits Times.

The unit, on the first floor near the mall entrance, will be Coach's first boutique in the suburbs though it also has a factory outlet store at the IMM mall in Jurong.

Coach, which sells handbags, shoes and other accessories, could not be reached for comment.

Retail industry experts said its opening at Westgate could pave the way for more high-end brands to venture beyond the central shopping district. "Who knows, we may even see LV (Louis Vuitton) going to the suburbs," said Professor Bernd Schmitt, executive director of the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight hosted by the Nanyang Technological University. "It's a smart move for Coach because (its) positioning is not at the ultra high end of luxury but is considered more affordable luxury for Singaporeans."

Singapore Polytechnic business school senior lecturer Sarah Lim said other brands such as Victoria's Secret and French label Agnes b. could follow suit.

Both Coach and Victoria's Secret are brought into Singapore by Valiram Group which also handles brands such as Boss and Hermes.

But Ms Lim drew the line at ultra luxe brands like LV and Gucci, noting: "Opening in a suburban mall has brand implications. It's telling the market that you are not that exclusive anymore."

Prof Schmitt said major brands are now aiming to capture Singaporean consumers in the suburbs, who are "just as wealthy and sophisticated as those living in the city centre".

Besides Coach, other big-name international brands opening at the Westgate mall include Swedish high-end fashion brand Cos, the upmarket sibling of clothes chain H&M. Cos will occupy nearly 7,000 sq ft of space on the first floor of the seven-storey mall. This will be its second store in Singapore after its South-east Asian debut at Ion Orchard.

"Location is super important to us as we want to be represented and positioned where we can best serve our customers. Our design ethos is all about accessibility and this relates to our store locations," a Cos spokesman said.

Other major retailers opening at Westgate include Samsung and Borders. Westgate general manager Wee Su Lin said the presence of big-name tenants "underscores the confidence that these brands have in the potential of Jurong Lake District".

The mall's occupancy rate is now over 80 per cent ahead of its opening by Christmas this year, CapitaMalls Asia said. Its 410,000 sq ft net lettable area is around the size of the retail space at Raffles City Singapore.


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