Courts unveils revamped megastore with a focus on ‘experiential retail’

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November 18, 2017 11:00 AM SGT
The revamped 136,000 sq ft Courts Megastore at Tampines (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
Courts unveiled its revamped Tampines megastore in time for the Nov 11 Singles’ Day sales. Terry O’Connor, group CEO of Courts Asia, says the revamp is more than just a renovation; it is “an investment to bring experiential retail to a new level in Singapore”.
The 136,000 sq ft Courts megastore on Tampines North Drive 2 is part of the group’s planned $10 million refurbishment across several stores in Singapore over the past year. Prior to the Courts megastore in Tampines, the group had revamped the store at Jurong Point.
Even though e-commerce now represents a big chunk of retail sales — as demonstrated by Alibaba’s record sales of US$25.3 billion ($34.4 billion) on this year’s Singles’ Day — “big box retail will continue to thrive in Singapore because people love to come and experience the destination and wide selections available”, says Ben Tan, country CEO of Courts Singapore. “It’s important that shoppers have a great experience at the store, whether it’s looking for what they want or the actual buying process.”
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Tan: Big box retail will survive in Singapore, because it is a format where people come to experience the destination and wide selections
Led by Keda Albano, Courts Asia regional head of visual merchandising, the revamp gives consumers design ideas through displays: for instance, how a new TV screen will look in a model living room, with sofas or loungers paired with ottomans or coffee tables and side tables as well as lighting. This gives consumers a better idea of how a new TV will look in their living room, as well as decorating ideas.
The megastore therefore comes with four times the usual number of demo stations and visual displays than before the renovation, as well as a wider variety of customisation and made-to-order options. They range from roving cooking demonstrations to a diverse selection of fabrics for sofas, chairs, curtains and rugs. This is an improvement from the past, when the retail space was segregated by product type, explains Tan.
In addition to the physical store, Courts has also revamped its online store, providing greater search customisation and allowing customers to preview products in their preferred colour or fabric before viewing the actual item at the store. Even though online sales have increased 100% this year, offline purchases still make up 99% of total sales, says Tan. In 1HFY2017 ended Sept 30 results, Courts Asia’s revenue totalled $363.04 million, down 3% y-o-y. Net profit for 1HFY2017 was down 49% y-o-y to $7.56 million, from $14.83 million.
In 2QFY2017, Courts Asia’s revenue was $176.5 million, down 1.4% from a year ago. Singapore still accounted for 71.1% of the group’s revenue, and saw a 5.9% y-o-y increase. This was mainly due to higher sales of goods, according to the group.
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Malaysia contributed to 25.1% of Courts’ group revenue in 2QFY2017, a 19.7% y-o-y drop, but 15.9% (based on the ringgit) without accounting for currency depreciation over the 12-month period. “While Courts Asia remains committed to Malaysia, in view of the prolonged weak consumer climate and the legislative changes in the near to medium term, Courts Asia has decided to focus its efforts on driving profitability for existing stores before expanding its footprint in the country,” Courts says in its financial statement for 2QFY2017 released on Nov 9.
Meanwhile Indonesia accounted for 3.8% of the group’s revenue in the period, up 24.6% after conversion and 26% in rupiah terms.
The Design Studio, a personalised home-solution hub for interior design advice, is a service provided by Courts and its partners Ciseern and T-Werkz
Singapore’s economy showed a slight uptick, with advanced estimates indicating overall economic growth of 4.6% y-o-y in 3QFY2017, versus 2.9% in the previous quarter. The Retail Sales Index also saw an improvement of 3.7% in August compared with a year ago. “Courts Asia will continue to focus on driving omni-channel solutions, investing in the refurbishments of its physical stores as well as its online platform,” says the company.
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According to Tan, Courts wants to roll out its experiential concept to other stores in Singapore. “We started with click-and-collect, and now we want to synergise the offline and online platforms to ensure that our consumers enjoy the same great experience,” he says.