SINGAPORE: Three years after it closed its doors, the new Funan welcomed its first visitors on Friday (Jun 28) after a S$560 million renovation and redesign.
With flagship stores from well-known international and local brands, hundreds of new visitors eagerly waited for the doors of the revamped mall to officially open at 11.30am.
The new Funan is home to Taobao’s first Singapore store, while Brompton Junction, a British manufacturer renowned for their folding bikes, also debut its flagship store on Friday.
Dyson’s Demo Store Beauty Lab is a world’s first, and Singaporean fashion brand Love, Bonito also chose to set up its largest outlet in Funan.
The futuristic mall is home to Singapore’s first fully-unmanned futsal court, and shoppers can expect robot-enabled handsfree shopping and a 24-hour click-and-collect drive-through service by the end of the year. Visitors to the KOPItech food court can also pay for their food using cryptocurrencies.
"The reimagined Funan relaunched the mall as a social retail space for discovery, learning and shopping, underpinned by a digital layer of customer experience to enhance satisfaction," said CapitaLand Singapore managing director of retail Chris Chong.
Among the first in line on Friday morning was 33-year-old Khaironisha, who had been waiting outside the mall since 7am.
"I'm very excited. I've been checking out their Facebook page waiting for them to open up," said the housewife.
"Like normal Singaporeans, a bit kiasu. I want to get the vouchers and I want to buy something, I want to buy a new laptop."
Many shoppers said the vouchers were a huge draw for coming early. The first 300 shoppers received a tote bag with up to S$100 worth of shopping vouchers if they spent S$50 in a single receipt.
It wasn’t just Singaporeans waiting for Funan to open. Ignatius Hariadi, a 42-year-old manufacturing officer, flew into Singapore from Indonesia just to visit the mall. Sporting a Brompton t-shirt, he was waiting with four other friends to get into the bike store.
“I’m going to see Brompton Junction. This one is the first in Southeast Asia,” said Mr Hariadi.
“We’re going to buy one of the bikes that was made for Singapore, the Lion City Special Edition.”
More than 60 per cent of the stores in Funan are from homegrown brands.
Thirteen brands have come back home to Funan, including camera retailer Alan Photo, which was in the old Funan DigitaLife Mall for 10 years. Its new store is twice the size of the previous one.
"A lot of loyal customers are still here. And we find that Funan now is the most exciting place to be, no other mall is like this,” said founder and managing director Alan Tan.
"The rent increased a lot, but actually it's quite reasonable and quite frankly it's a good challenge to come back.”
His son Alvan Tan, who is the general manager, said that he was excited to make the business more interactive using new structures in the mall.
"We can do different kinds of small pop-up workshops there and in the other spaces," he added.
One of the highlights of the new mall is a 25-metre tall structure, dubbed the Tree of Life. The mall's centre piece houses retail pods for brands to showcase their products on a pop-up concept and host workshops.
The Tree of Life also serves as the connector to other parts of the building, including the office blocks, serviced residences and an urban farm.
It is not just the retail side of the mall that got an upgrade. Executives who work in Funan’s new twin office blocks will also get access using facial recognition technology.
When asked, if they feel any sense of nostalgia for the old mall, Alan admitted that he still misses the place.
"100 per cent of the old Funan mall (was) an IT mall. If you want to buy IT (products), you should come to Funan, no other place," reminisced Alan.
"In this new mall, it's only the third floor that is all IT. The second floor is fashion, the first floor is F&B - it's very different."
His son Alvan said he is looking forward to bigger crowds which he hopes the refurbishment will bring.
"It caters more to the younger crowd and I'm part of the younger generation, so I like the new Funan more," he laughed.
"In your heart, you know that it's the same Funan, but the whole concept has changed. It's so different from the other malls so I think more people will come to the mall."