2020 will be the year marked by Covid-19. In addition to the main public health problem, the virus outbreak has penetrated many other areas such as society and businesses.
Survival is particularly challenging in retail and F&B, where safe distance measures inevitably lead to a drop in visitor numbers.
Rental and personnel costs remain a problem for many operators, as even government discounts may not be enough to get through these unprecedented times.
We already saw some closings in the first quarter of the year.
In addition to the effects of Covid-19, some of these companies have struggled with declining traction over a long period of time due to a variety of complex factors.
1. Ministry of Food
Photo credit: falseiffany.blogspot.com
With 80 restaurants in its heyday, the local Ministry of Food (MOF) chain, which has nine F&B brands, will have 26 branches in 2020.
After the sudden closure of five stores over the weekend in late February, news of the massive downsizing of MOF became known.
Some of them, such as Ju Hao at Bukit Panjang Plaza and MOF My Izakaya at Lot One, were taken back by their landlord because the company did not pay the rent.
However, MOF had previously closed restaurants.
In 2019, around 40 branches were closed as part of a "major overhaul" that is said to have helped the company become operationally profitable in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, this was not enough to help MOF withstand its ongoing financial problems.
MOF founder Lena Sim was brought to justice by the owners of a Korean restaurant chain after a store failed to take over her brands in 2017. She is being sued for an outstanding payment of $ 4.8 million.
In addition, business has suffered a major slump since the Covid-19 breakout. Some branches had to accept a drop in sales of up to 90 percent.
2nd Breko Cafe
The Breko Cafe has been an important pillar in Holland Village for almost 20 years and offers its guests a cozy meeting place with a large selection of food and drinks.
Customers were shocked when the closure was announced in March 2020, especially the fans who said they "grew up" with the cafe.
Breko's owner Yong Wei Kai revealed in a Facebook post that the café has experienced "too many difficult times" throughout its life.
Despite surviving these earlier trials, this time it succumbed to its struggles and was officially closed on April 1st.
Although Yong gave no reason for the closure, it can be assumed that customers have been scarce in the past few months as people avoid social gatherings at this time.
The café would not have been able to assert itself in the long run with significant effects on the revenue, since the coronavirus situation does not disappear so quickly.
3rd Habestbee Habitat
Photo credit: Honestbee
Given the outbreak of Covid-19, Honestbee saw a “significant reduction in walk-in traffic” in its retail, restaurant and supermarket concept, the Habitat.
It initially announced plans to temporarily suspend operation of the habitat until February 23.
Then, closer to that date, the company said it would continue to close until February 29.
Nevertheless, the living space does not appear to open again soon.
For one, the landlord LHN Space Resources was not prepared to extend the lease for the living space and can now reclaim the space because Honbebee has lost legal protection against debtors.
It was also reported that furniture, furnishings and equipment were cleared from the living space in early March and the area was left with empty shelves.
Ong Lay Ann, CEO of Honbebee, shared his plans to save the difficult business and said he would instead switch to a fast-food restaurant that serves pizza and focus on online grocery delivery in Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines to resume.
Photo credit: HereNow
Hong Kong lifestyle retailer Kapok first came to Singapore in 2012 with a pop-up store in TANGS.
After a series of successful pop-ups, the multi-label brand decided to establish a permanent location.
It became known for its flagship store in the National Design Center (NDC), where the curation of art brands from Singapore and around the world was a fitting addition to the cultural district.
In March, however, Kapok started selling goodbyes later in the month to erase its stock of consignment stamps. According to its Facebook posts, it officially closed the shop on March 31, 2020.
Due to the nature of the location, tourists probably made up a large proportion of Kapok NDC's visitors.
Although Kapok may not be able to bear the burden of high rental costs in this current climate, it has switched to a fully online model and continues to do so by offering free shipping to Singapore.
5. Liang dish
Photo credit: Sengkang via Wikipedia
Shoppers also said goodbye to Liang Court, a legendary Clarke Quay mall since 1984, which had its last business day on March 31, 2020.
Redevelopment plans were released last year after City Developments Limited and CapitaLand bought the property for S $ 400 million.
It will be transformed into an integrated development with residential towers, a hotel and a commercial component.
Although tenants were only asked to vacate the mall on the closing date, Liang Court had many vacant stores before.
Over the years, the mall no longer had a strong appeal as it lagged behind newer and trendier developments in the bustling neighborhood known for its nightlife.
However, Liang Court was popular in the Japanese community with its many Japanese restaurants and Japanese shops like Meidi-Ya.
While Meidi-Ya has closed with the mall, buyers may be relieved to know that it will open a new two-story store on Millennia Walk later this year.
6. Isetan in Westgate
Photo credit: Yebber
The Japanese Isetan department store also closed its Westgate store on March 31, a large two-story store that is estimated to be approximately 60,000 m².
The Westgate outlet made a loss in the face of tough retail competition and poor sales.
For this reason, Isetan was unable to reach an agreement with his landlord JG Trustee on the extension of his lease, which ended in December 2019.
Although Isetan couldn't hold the Westgate outlet, he's trying to renovate his flagship store at Shaw House along Orchard Road.
The company invested $ 12 million to transform the space into a modern lifestyle concept with a stronger focus on beauty and sports.