7 March 2011, AsiaOne
BRITISH fashion label French Connection quietly closed its flagship store in Wisma Atria in January, and pulled out of its outlets in Tangs Orchard and Tangs VivoCity.
Fans were worried, and rumours abounded that the brand had pulled out of the Singapore retail market for good.
But the company has clarified that its disappearance from shelves here is only temporary, due to a change in its local distributor.
Ms Lena Pratt, French Connection’s business-development manager for Asia, said the company reached a “mutual agreement” late last year to terminate its contract with its previous Singapore distributor, Gamut Marketing.
It signed up with a new distributor, Kai Yan, at the beginning of this year.
“French Connection is not pulling out of Singapore or any of our existing Asian markets,” she said.
Gamut Marketing is a sister company of CK Tang, and part of the Tangs Group of Stores.
CK Tang said its decision to relinquish the French Connection distributorship stemmed from its own need to focus on the development of the Tangs proprietary labels and concept boutiques.
“While the French Connection brand will always remain close to our hearts, we recognise that it is time to take our own brands into the spotlight,” said Mr Gerry Rezel, vice-president of communications at CK Tang.
Meanwhile, the new distributors of French Connection have been busy with plans to relaunch the label here.
Kai Yan is the one-year-old retail arm of Incorporated Builders Group, and also distributes the popular MCnelly flat shoes by South Korean designer Jihee Ahn here. Kai Yan has its own line of organic luxury bed linen as well.
The French Connection brand will make a re-appearance at counters in department store Robinsons by the middle of this month, Kai Yan revealed.
A new flagship store, spanning 1,600 sq ft, will also be opened at basement two of Marina Bay Sands by early next month.
In addition, there are plans to set up at least another standalone French Connection boutique in Orchard Road, which is likely to open its doors to customers in the second half of this year.
Kai Yan said it also plans to make a bigger distinction between the French Connection label, which is targeted at working professionals, and FCUK, which is a casual-wear label targeting young adults.
This will be apparent in the layout of the new stores.
“FCUK has become interchangeable with French Connection but, actually, there is a difference between the two labels,” said Miss Natalie Wang, assistant manager of Kai Yan.
“We would like to better expand our reach to both customer segments.”
French Connection expressed confidence in its Asian business, which it said has been doing extremely well due to the high
growth of the region’s economy. Ms Pratt said: “We are actively looking to expand our distribution in the region even further, including in the Singapore market.”