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Marks & Spencer Singapore opens new store amid concern over Robinsons' sister brands

MARKS & Spencer (M&S) Singapore has opened a new outlet at Waterway Point, amid the impending winding-up of Robinsons Singapore, with whom it shares a parent in the Al-Futtaim group.

The store opened last Saturday and is a "pop-up" that will operate for the next six months, The Business Times (BT) has learnt.

It is located on the first floor of the suburban mall in Punggol, and sells beauty and food products.

M&S had confirmed to BT last Friday that it had no intention of closing its "thriving business" in Singapore. Yet, the franchise appears barely profitable of late, having made a profit after tax of S$101,613 in 2018, down from S$2.9 million a year ago.

In the UK, the British brand on Wednesday reported the first loss in its 94 years as a publicly listed company, largely due to a decline in clothing sales amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

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M&S made a pre-tax loss before one-off items of £17.4 million (S$30.8 million) in the 26 weeks to Sept 26, a reversal from a profit of £176 million a year ago, according to media reports.

Analysts from DBS Group Research on Monday flagged that more brands under Dubai-based conglomerate Al-Futtaim may follow in Robinsons' footsteps and potentially face collapse, given the ongoing pressures on retailers from capacity and travel limits.

The Al-Futtaim group is said to represent most of the biggest brands in Singapore, with household names such as M&S, Zara and Mango in its stable.

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