Robinsons plans to pay creditors next year; stores to operate until mid or end-December

Robinsons plans to pay creditors next year; stores to operate until mid or end-December

Robinsons Singapore
Customers queue to enter a Robinsons department store at the Hereen along Orchard Road on Oct 30, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Creditors of Robinsons will have to wait until next year, likely between April and June, to get back what they are owed by the department store operator, two sources told CNA after a creditors’ meeting on Thursday (Nov 26).

Those who attended the online meeting were also told by liquidators KordaMentha that the two remaining Robinsons stores at The Heeren and Raffles City Shopping Centre will keep operating for closing-down sales until the middle or end of next month, said the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Robinsons announced in a separate press release that it will hold its final Black Friday sale on Nov 27 with discounts of up to 70 per cent storewide.

“They want to continue selling down the assets, which include inventories at the stores, until mid-December or end-December. (The liquidators) said they can’t give a fixed date for the store closures because this is still a work in progress,” said one of the sources who attended the meeting.

“Then they will do the reconciliation and decide how much each creditor will get. It will be April to June 2021 when they can start to distribute the assets,” he added.

READ: Robinsons to close last 2 stores in Singapore due to weak demand

Both sources, who are suppliers to the department store and are owed six-figure sums each, said they are not hopeful in recovering what they are owed. 

Taking legal action is also not an option for them, said one of the suppliers. “They don’t have money so is there any use suing them? The legal fees are also too high. We can only wait and see what happens.”

Lawyers previously told CNA that suppliers, who are considered unsecured creditors and rank at the bottom of the priority list in a liquidation scenario, have a slim chance in getting paid in full

READ: 'I doubt we will be paid': Robinsons' suppliers left in the lurch

The online meeting on Thursday, which started at 2pm and lasted for about one-and-a-half hours, was held for creditors to vote on several resolutions after Robinsons announced its decision to throw in the towel. 

All the resolutions were passed by a majority of creditors in attendance in both number and value. More than 200 creditors were present at the online meeting.

These include the appointment of KordaMentha’s Cameron Duncan and David Kim as liquidators overseeing the winding up of the department store. 

A five-member committee of inspection, which includes representatives from major creditor groups such as employees, landlords and suppliers, was also appointed.

442 CREDITORS OWED MORE THAN S$31M

Owned by Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Group, Robinsons unexpectedly announced on Oct 30 that it would be closing its two remaining department stores in Singapore.

The decision to exit the Singapore market after 162 years comes amid changing retail buying patterns and weak demand made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, it said.

READ: Do department stores still have a future in Singapore?

In a Nov 13 notice calling for the creditors’ meeting, Robinsons said it owed about S$31.7 million to 442 creditors.

The largest amount owed – about S$7.2 million – was to Swee Cheng Holdings, the landlord of its flagship outlet at The Heeren.

It also owed two other landlords, Lendlease Retail Investments and RCS Trust, S$4.2 million each. The former operates Jem shopping mall where Robinsons had an outlet until August, while RCS Trust runs Raffles City Shopping Centre.

Mattress brands Tempur, Simmons, Sealy and Serta were also on the list. Among them, Tempur had the largest amount of S$154,408, while the other three brands were owed S$35,556, S$56,590 and S$17,889, respectively.

READ: Some mattress suppliers to honour orders by Robinsons' customers

When contacted, a Simmons spokesperson said the amount listed on the notice “is not the actual amount owed” to the company. 

“The actual amount owed is definitely more than that as it includes the goods already delivered between September and October 2020 before the sudden announcement of liquidation,” the spokesperson added, without disclosing a figure. Simmons has submitted its proof of debt with the liquidator. 

Other affected brands that were owed significant sums include fragrance and cosmetics distributor Luxasia (S$826,631) and cosmetics giant L'Oreal Singapore (S$572,700).

The notice also showed that potential employee claims amounted to about S$4.4 million. Robinsons employs about 175 staff in Singapore.

These amounts are according to Robinsons’ records and the filing of creditor claims is under way, KordaMentha director Hamish Bull told CNA on Thursday. 

Source: CNA/sk(gs)

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