Some Suntec shops struggle to stay afloat

ALMOST a year after Suntec City Mall's $230 million renovations began, shops continue to struggle to stay afloat as customers choose to bypass the mall's hoardings - and the stores themselves.

Business has dropped by up to 60 per cent as compared to the same period last year at certain outlets The Straits Times spoke to.

One of those was Giordano, a clothes shop close to the Galleria zone, where the first phase of renovations is being carried out.

Gifts and novelty shop CNS has also observed a similar loss.

"People don't know that the shops are open because a lot of the mall is covered up. Those that come into our shop only browse through after withdrawing money (from the nearby ATM machine)," said CNS staff member Cynthia Ng.

Shop manager Carol Chong of restaurant Bali Thai, located in the mall's basement, said fewer tourists are visiting the mall due to "inconvenient" routes, which involve them having to walk past hoardings to get to areas of the mall that are open.

Ms Susan Sim, deputy chief executive officer of ARA Trust Management (Suntec) Limited, which manages Suntec Reit, told The Straits Times that the first phase of renovation works is "on track", with new brands such as H&M, Uniqlo, Lowrys Farm and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen set to join the mall.

This is the first time in 17 years that Suntec City Mall has undergone a revamp.

It commenced its second phase of renovations in March this year.

It is all part of a $410 million makeover of Suntec City, which also includes the Suntec Singapore convention centre.

Despite the lacklustre sales, some shop owners said they are eagerly awaiting the mall's overall completion.

"With the new design and concept, it'll be interesting to see how the mall will look, and it'll be a fresh start for everybody," said Bali Thai's Ms Chong.

But others, such as CNS' Ms Ng, remain worried about recouping losses.

"We've made monthly losses over the past year, so it's not going to be easy to earn back," she said.

Source: Straits Times, 27 May 2013