John Little to shut down

Probably Singapore’s oldest department store after launching 174 years ago, John Little will close its final outlet on January 2.

It is holding a moving-out sale, with discounts of up to 90 per cent, from its store in Plaza Singapura, which opened three years ago.

John Little owner the Robinsons Group says that in the face of “onslaught” from eCommerce, the brand will evolve into a pop-up format, with details to be announced next year. The group says the decision to shut shop was made after evaluating “the relevancy and sustainability” of John Little.

Owned by the Al-Futtaim Group of Dubai, the Robinsons Group also manages Marks and Spencers, and Robinsons. Al-Futtaim earlier said it would shut 10 loss-making stores this year as part of a restructure of its Singapore business. Closures also include John Little at Marina Square and Tiong Bahru Plaza, Marks and Spencer at Centrepoint, and some Royal Sporting House outlets.

John Little’s Orchard Road closure is part of consolidation efforts to focus on growing businesses and to rechannel resources to bring in new brands and shopping concepts, says the Robinsons Group. Employees affected by the closure have been briefed and the company is deploying them Named after storekeeper John Martin Little, John Little had its beginnings in 1842 in what is now Raffles Place. Only 14 years ago it had seven outlets.

Meanwhile, Plaza Singapura is in discussions with several retailers interested in taking over the 38,000 sqft (3530 sqm) space John Little’s occupied on the first level. The mall is upgrading its lift lobbies, washrooms and nursing rooms, with the work expected to be complete by the end of the year.

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