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Robinsons creditors appoint KordaMentha as liquidators

Robinsons at Raffles City - closing - St file.jpg
Robinsons' Raffles City outlet. Its liquidators on Thursday announced what will be the department store's final closing-down sale.

RESTRUCTURING specialist KordaMentha has been named liquidators of department store operator Robinson & Company (Singapore), according to a memorandum seen by The Business Times (BT).

KordaMentha's Cameron Duncan and David Kim, previously the provisional liquidators, were approved at an online creditors' meeting on Thursday to wind up the ailing company, which announced in late October that it would shutter for good in Singapore after more than a century in business.

The majority of Robinsons' 442 creditors, owed some S$31.7 million in total, also gave the green light on resolutions such as the appointment of a committee of inspection of not more than five members.

TODAY reported that the committee members are Yang Ee Seng from Swee Cheng Holdings, landlord of Robinsons' flagship outlet at The Heeren; Jane Lee, representing Robinsons' employees; Amy Khoo from Luxasia; Stephen Green from RSH Holdings, which runs retail brand Royal Sporting House and is also owned by Robinsons parent Al-Futtaim; and mattress brand Sealy Asia's Lee Chee Yan.

BT wrote last week that the 162-year-old insolvent department store operator owes Swee Cheng the biggest sum - S$7.2 million - while fragrance and cosmetics distributor Luxasia is owed S$826,600.

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Another landlord, RCS Trust, is owed some S$4.2 million. Through the trust, CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust owns Raffles City Shopping Centre, where Robinsons' other remaining outlet is located.

Robinsons also owes S$4.2 million to Lendlease Retail Investments 3, BT reported. Lendlease operates Jem mall, which Robinsons exited in August this year.

Mr Duncan and Mr Kim had raised about S$14 million from selling the department store's existing stock so far, and hope to start distributing the monies recovered to creditors between April and June next year, according to TODAY's report.

The value of Robinsons' assets amounted to S$26.1 million, of which S$17.4 million is the estimated realisable value, against liabilities of S$203.7 million, TODAY stated. This indicates a net deficit of S$161.1 million.

At the creditors' meeting, the liquidators also received approval from the creditors to open, maintain and operate any bank account with a bank they deem fit.

In addition, they may appoint a lawyer to assist them in their duties if required, according to the memorandum.

As part of the asset realisation process, the liquidators on Thursday also announced what will be Robinsons' final closing-down sale.

The sale features hundreds of offers from international brands, including Dyson, L'Oreal, Aspinal of London and See by Chloe, across fashion, beauty, homeware, accessories and electrical products.

"Everything has been reduced and must go, as final stock has now arrived and warehouses are now empty," KordaMentha said in the memorandum.

Gordon Brothers, which KordaMentha engaged to manage the store closures in Singapore, said in a Nov 16 press statement that Robinsons had S$25 million worth of retail inventory then.

Aside from the amounts owed to the landlords, potential employee claims had been pegged at about S$4.4 million. Some 175 employees are affected by the winding up.

KordaMentha earlier confirmed that all staff had received their October salaries, while former workers were asked to file their outstanding contractual and statutory claims with the liquidators. The Singapore Manual & Mercantile Workers' Union is representing the interests of employees affected by the liquidation.

Many of the other creditors include brands that stocked their products with Robinsons, such as beauty firm L'Oreal and mattress brands Simmons, Sealy, Serta and Tempur. These creditors' claims range from tens of thousands of dollars to the hundreds of thousands, BT reported.

Robinsons said last month that its last two stores at The Heeren and Raffles City might remain open in the "coming weeks" for final sales. KordaMentha noted that the indicative timeline for the closures would be around mid to end-December, depending on when the outlets run out of stock.

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