Expect more mega stores under Warehouse Retail Scheme

Residents living in Jurong, Woodlands and Sembawang may get mega stores like the ones in Tampines.National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan says a few parties have expressed interest in developing similar projects under the Warehouse Retail Scheme.

They are in talks with the authorities.

The just-opened $125m Ikea mega store in Tampines is one of three giant stores in the warehouse cluster.

Under the Economic Development Board’s Warehouse Retail Scheme, companies, like Ikea, can use industrial land for retail and warehousing.

Mr Mah said such projects would put the country at the forefront of the best warehouse-retail practices in the region.

The scheme will also anchor big retailers in Singapore by locating their activities such as warehousing, training and R&D here.

More of such projects can be expected in future.

Mr Mah said: “This is an experiment. This is the first one. We hope to demonstrate the benefits of this scheme whereby we bring large retailers and bring their concepts in and where the large retailers help the local communities to upgrade. So this is very much of an experiment. We are looking at other places. There are interested parties talking to EDB and URA. When the discussions are finalised, we will make the announcement.”

Mr Mah said that factors such as the location and size of land are some of the considerations by the interested parties who may want to do it alone or pool with other retailers such as in the Tampines project.

But the areas being looked at are mostly outlying areas that are not too close to the HDB heartland so as to avoid too much competition.

Mr Mah acknowledged that while the Warehouse Retail Scheme in Tampines provides more shopping options for residents, it also raises concerns among local retailers in the nearby HDB heartland.

But he assured that there are already plans for both sides to work together to reap benefits from the project.

These include helping local retailers with publicity and merchandising as well as training.

A Tampines Business Committee has also been set up to help them pool resources and organise big promotional events.

For example, next month, it will hold a Tampines Festival Light-Up which will run till after Chinese New Year to spread the festive mood to residents and inject vibrancy to the shopping experience in the heartlands.

Mr Mah saw this as an opportunity for the local retailers to upgrade their businesses.

He said: “It’s a double-edged sword but at the end of the day, there will be net results to Singapore and if we get the local retailers to upgrade their operations, I believe it will also be of benefit to them as well.”

Source: Channel NewsAsia, 30 November 2006 

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