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FIRST “There are now no fewer than 150 Korean restaurants island wide feeding a community of about 30,000 Koreans in Singapore.

When in Singapore, dress like a Geisha, eat Gangnam-style


f you want to know how Singaporeans are thinking, feeling, and spending, you could do worse than to take a look at what new retail outlets opened in Singapore in 2012. It was not the year of Filipino cuisine, Chinese clothes, or Italian food. The country with its culture making the biggest splash last year was Korea with its cuisine and Japan with its clothes. Of Korean cuisine and Japanese clothes A new wave of Korean barbecue restaurants, including three well-known Korean barbecue chains, launched last year including Boss BarBQ at Clarke Quay, Kkongdon BBQ at Marina Square, and Bornga at The Star Vista. According to Colliers International, there are now no fewer than 150 Korean restaurants islandwide feeding a community of about 30,000 Koreans in Singapore, and of course all those K-pop fans. But when it comes to dressing, few seem willing to dress Gangnam Style with green jackets and bow ties or wear yellow suits. Japanese stores are still very much in fashion, with a recent example being the opening of 30 leading Japanese apparel and cosmetics brands located at JRunway on the


ground floor of Plaza Singapura’s new extension. Called JRunway, the 3,600 sq ft store is the first Japanese multi-label boutique in Southeast Asia, notes Colliers. But Heidi Yong, director & head of retail agency at Knight Frank Singapore, says there is also a surge of Japanese restaurants opening up in Singapore and a few new concepts will also be launched this year. She adds that Create Restaurants from Japan has opened a number of Japanese dining establishments in Singapore, such as Hifumi at Plaza Singapura Shabu Shabu Sai at Causeway Point, and Maccha House at Central. Another trend of note is the rise in American casual dining in the heartlands, traditionally the preserve of noodle and rice stalls. At least five new diners and restaurants offering Americanstyle fare are entering the local market including modern diner and ribs restaurant Morganfield’s and seafood diner Boston Seafood Shack which both started operating at the new Star Vista mall in Buona Vista; Suprette, a whimsical diner, opened at boutique hotel Kam Leng in Jalan Besar; and the casual Cajun seafood eatery. The Cajun Kings, in Jalan Riang in Braddell Heights Estate. While

in the upmarket arena, Ruth’s Chris Steak House opened at the Marina Mandarin. Krispy Kreme doughnuts also announced that around 15 Krispy Kreme franchise locations will be set up around the island over the next five years. Foreign brands to set up This year will see 1.9 million sq ft of retail space come online of which about 17.9% or 340,000 sq ft will be on Orchard Road. So what other types of shops can we expect to see? Colliers expects a few international department stores new to Singapore to set up in the next year, as there have been some initial inquiries on the availability of suitable retail space. Alan Cheong, senior director at Savills says Isetan will open a 59,700 sq ft stall at Westgate and Robinson will open at Jem, taking up 85,000 sq ft. They will also move from Centrepoint to Heeren. Hannah MacDonald, head of retail at Jones Lang LaSalle, notes that though there is a lot of interest from foreign brands, there is nervousness and hesitation due to the cost of the bricks and mortar and the recent changes to the foreign worker policy, reducing the amount of foreigners that can work in stores. “We are often seeing new to market brands waiting for space to be available in certain malls rather than go to what they feel is an inferior mall/location. International brands often look at the brand mix, positioning of the mall, brand visibility and catchment more specifically than those that aware of the market,” added MacDonald.

Average monthly gross rents of prime retail space (By Micro-Market)

Source: Colliers International Singapore Research

Singapore Business Review  
Singapore Business Review  

February-March 2013 issue