Orchard Road to gain design incubator

A “design incubator” to showcase home-grown brands and designers will open in the heart of Orchard Road by the end of next year.

This was revealed by Trade and Industry Minister S Iswaran at the Singapore Retail Industry Conference on Friday.

He said the design incubator, to be run by retailer Naiise, will house a retail showcase and incubation space under one roof. It is expected to feature more than 60 local brands covering fashion, lifestyle products and souvenirs, and is being supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, Spring Singapore and JTC. Helping local brands go global is one of the key strategies of the Retail Industry Transformation Map launched last year.

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. Iswaran said Spring is working with department stores to explore the incubation of local and regional designers.

Also, the Singapore Retail Association (SRA) is embarking on a project under Spring’s Local Enterprise and Association Development Plus (Lead+) program to transform and upgrade its capabilities, the minister said. It will undertake specific initiatives to drive the adoption of retail and backend technologies among retailers, including the use of the “endless aisle” which enables retailers to showcase all their products without having to stock them in their physical stores.

SRA will develop a website mobile portal and enhance its GoSpree shopping app launched in June.

Government agencies are also looking at ways to enliven Orchard Road as a shopping and lifestyle destination, said Iswaran. He said a steering committee overseeing this has been set up, co-chaired by three government ministers.
Other initiatives on the table include enhanced programming along the pedestrian malls, pop-up and permanent activations at available spaces, and making the shopping belt more pedestrian friendly.

Iswaran said the retail industry is an important part of the republic’s economy. The sector comprises 23,000 retail establishments that chalk up about S$35 billion (US$26 billion) in annual receipts and contributed 1.4 per cent to Singapore’s GDP last year.

As another resource for retailers, the Retail Centre of Excellence will be launched at the Singapore Management University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business next month. It will partner retailers in addressing the gaps and challenges of the fast-changing retail landscape, Iswaran said.

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