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Warehouse Retail Scheme in Singapore breaks new ground
THE PIONEERING WAREHOUSE RETAIL SCHEME OFFERS RETAILERS A HUB FOR INTEGRATED BUSINESS MODELS, WITH REGIONAL BASES, INDUSTRIAL AND RETAIL ACTIVITIES.
THREE retailers have broken ground in more ways than one when they took part in a ceremony last month to kickstart construction for Singapore's Warehouse Retail Scheme (WRS) project. The pioneering development, scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2007, was launched in April 2004 by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) in a bid to establish a regional base in Singapore for trading activities.
The retailers in the S$200-million (US$118.2-million) scheme are Courts (Singapore) Limited, Dairy Farm and Ikano Pte Ltd (Ikea Singapore), which can soon situate integrated business models with regional headquarters, industrial and retail activities in one location.
The WRS, EDB believes, will enable Singapore businesses with a regional perspective to reap significant benefits - from operational and cost efficiencies of a synergistic co-location of regional operations, like logistics and distribution, to training and flagship-store concepts. EDB also expects the development, spanning 9.3ha in the suburban Tampines satellite town, to generate approximately 1,700 new jobs.
Courts is looking forward to locate its head office, and retail and warehouse facilities at one place. "We are excited to be part of the WRS project, as we believe that centralising our operations will enable us to operate more efficiently and bring about productivity gains," said Terry O'Connor, managing director of Courts Singapore. "Retail offerings in Singapore will be taken up a notch, with retailers being given a platform to introduce innovative products and consumers offered a totally new retail experience."
O'Connor also sees the WRS as a significant springboard for the further expansion of its brand, especially in Thailand. "[Courts at the WRS] will be a blueprint that can be taken potentially through the region," he said. The new site is expected to double that of its Bukit Timah store, which spans 53,000sqf.
Michael Kok, regional director of Dairy Farm South Asia, said: "We are moving into a new phase, a bigger concept." His company plans to make the warehouse zone its headquarters for all its retail businesses in Singapore as well as the base for Dairy Farm South Asia office and other regional activities like training, and product sourcing and procurement.
The group will also launch Singapore's biggest Giant hypermarket at the WRS site. "The WRS site provides us with a unique opportunity to create a purpose-built hub to house our key operations and our biggest hypermarket."
Kok believes that the coming together of the three retailers at the WRS site will increase the image and footfall to the area. "Together, we will be a major draw for shoppers from all over the island, [giving] this site the potential to become a new and exciting landmark in Tampines."
Ikano sees its presence in the WRS development as imperative to the company's expansion efforts across Southeast Asia. Complementing its Ikea outlet on Alexandra Road, the Tampines site will help divert part of the four million shoppers that throng Ikea Alexandra annually. Besides housing the flagship store, the new site will also serve as a regional training campus and innovation hub for the creative development of Ikea's showcase displays, which will be employed globally.
"This new Ikea Tampines flagship store, together with our existing Ikea Alexandra store, will offer an even better shopping experience and much improved access convenience for customers.
"We will bring the full Ikea selfserve concept to Singapore, creating a regional centre that allows our trainers, co-workers and regional Ikea franchisees to gain access to a model Ikea store environment for their training and concept-testing needs," said Ikano managing director Tom Huzell.