Local retail brands to get support in Orchard Road to raise their profile

SINGAPORE: A “design incubator” is set to open in the heart of Orchard Road by the end of 2018 to showcase home-grown brands by local design talent. 

This was revealed by Trade and Industry (Industry) Minister S Iswaran on Friday (Sep 8) at the Singapore Retail Industry conference.

He said the design incubator, which will be operated by local retailer Naiise, will house a retail showcase and incubation space under one roof. It is expected to feature more than 60 local brands, ranging from fashion, lifestyle products, to souvenirs.

The effort is being supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, SPRING Singapore and JTC. Said Mr Iswaran: “It is important to nurture a vibrant design community in Singapore to support the lifestyle cluster and strengthen the pipeline of local brands for internationalisation.”

Helping local brands go global is one of the key strategies of the Retail Industry Transformation Map which was launched in 2016.

Mr Iswaran added that the setting up of Enterprise Singapore next year will support local firms in such endeavours.

“Enterprise Singapore will integrate deep knowledge of the retail industry with the network of local and overseas partners, to comprehensively support our retail SMEs in their efforts to develop strong brands with international recognition.”

Local brands and designers may soon also be able to use department stores as a launchpad to showcase their products, boost their profile and expand market access. Mr Iswaran said SPRING is working with department stores to explore the incubation of local and regional designers. 

“For local designers, these will form a holistic package of mentorship on technical and operational capabilities, potential showcase opportunities of their designs in-store, and the opportunity to access overseas markets,” he explained.

USING TECH TO SHAKE UP RETAIL SCENE

In addition, the Singapore Retail Association (SRA) is embarking on a project under SPRING’s Local Enterprise and Association Development Plus (LEAD+) programme to transform and upgrade its capabilities, the minister said.

It will undertake specific initiatives to drive the adoption of retail technologies and back-end solutions among retailers, including the use of “endless aisle” solutions where retailers can showcase all their products without having to stock them in their physical stores.

Local brands can also look forward to receiving incentives and subsidies when they adopt retail technologies aimed to drive store traffic and sales, when the programme is kickstarted next month.

REJUVENATING ORCHARD ROAD

Government agencies are also “actively studying” how to enliven Orchard Road as a shopping and lifestyle destination, said Mr Iswaran. 

To that end, he revealed that a ministerial steering committee overseeing this has been set up, co-chaired by three ministers – Mr Iswaran, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong and Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng.

Apart from the design incubator, Mr Iswaran said other initiatives being planned include enhanced programming along the pedestrian malls, “pop-up and permanent activations at available spaces”, and making the shopping belt more pedestrian friendly. 

The Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) will also partner shopping malls in the district later this year as part of the annual Christmas festival and Orchard Road light up, to roll out rewards programmes in a bid to attract shoppers to the area.

Asked on the ministerial steering committee, the association said it is “heartened” to know the committee was formed to drive rejuvenation plans. “As the future plans of Orchard Road are very complex, it requires careful planning in the aspects of economic, transport and infrastructure,” it said.

It added that there is nothing to share on its end at this time, as the rejuvenation plans will be led by the Government.

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