Duty-free retailer plans new store here to woo Asian consumers

Luxury duty-free retail giant DFS is looking to open a second downtown store in Singapore in a bid to attract more Chinese tourists and locals.dfs

The company currently has a four-storey mall in Orchard and although group chairman and chief executive officer Philippe Schaus would not say when or where a second store could open, he revealed that the retailer’s expansion plans are spurred by the increasing affluence of Asian consumers.

“The Chinese are a big part of our high-growth story,” he said.

“They are spending more and want better services and shopping experiences.”

He expects the number of Chinese people who travel overseas to double to 200 million within the next 10 years. Their spending power is also likely to double.

Mr Schaus was visiting Singapore from Hong Kong, where the company is based, to launch the revamped Scotts Road store, which has been renamed T Galleria after a facelift.

The move is part of the global rebranding of DFS’ 14 downtown stores worldwide, including Hong Kong, Macau and Okinawa.

DFS also runs duty-free liquor and tobacco stores and selected luxury brand boutiques in Changi Airport.

While he noted an increase in the number of shopping malls in Singapore and the fact that more luxury brands are setting up flagship stores in mega-malls, Mr Schaus said “not everyone wants to shop in a gigantic mall”.

Chinese travellers make up more than half of the DFS customer base in Singapore, which is experiencing record numbers of Chinese visitors.

The Republic welcomed 1.24 million Chinese visitors in the first half of last year, a 27 per cent rise from the same period in the previous year.

For the first time, the Chinese emerged as the top spenders, splurging almost $1.52 billion in the first half of last year, overtaking Indonesian visitors.

DFS also wants to draw in more Singaporean shoppers, said Mr Francois Rosset, managing director of DFS Singapore. “We need to change their mindsets… DFS is not just for foreigners and you don’t have to show your passport to buy things.”

DFS has boosted its retail offerings and is offering services such as providing personal shoppers to help customers. It is also revamping its loyalty shopper programme.

Retail expert Sarah Lim, a senior lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic’s business school, said stocking more affordable mid-market brands and having a cafe or even a food outlet might help to draw locals. “The shopping experience will become less intimidating as most locals are not always looking to buy high-end premium brands,” she said.

Source: Asia One Business

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