Joseph Schooling breaks Asian and Singapore 50m fly records at World Championships

Joseph Schooling before his 50m butterfly heat at the World Championships in Budapest on July 23, 2017.
The Straits Times
Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling is showing no signs of slowing down. He had promised earlier this month that he was gunning for the gold medal at the FINA World Championship in Budapest, Hungary, and delivered a performance last night (July 23) at the men’s 50m fly event that showed he’s well on track to win. The 22-year-old clocked a new Asian and Singapore national record of 22.93sec, finishing third in the semi-final behind Ukraine’s Andrii Govorov (22.77sec) and Brazil’s Nicholas Santos (22.84sec). “Just happy to get under 23sec, that sets me up nicely for tomorrow,” he said in a Straits Times report. “I’m excited. The most important thing was top-eight today and it’s anyone’s game tomorrow.” This record qualifies him for the 50m butterfly finals which will take place on Monday (12.17am, Tuesday morning Singapore time). Yesterday was also the second time Schooling rewrote his Asian and national marks in the same day. At the competition’s opening day at the Danube Arena, Schooling clocked in an impressive 23.05sec in the morning heats, erasing the 23.25sec record he helped set at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia. During that event, the University of Texas undergraduate finished seventh in the final which was eventually won by France’s Florent Manaudou with 22.97sec. With both records in the semi-final, the 2016 Olympic fly champion finished fifth overall, with American rival Caeleb Dressel topping the charts with 22.76sec. His eyes are also set on his pet event, the 100m fly for which he currently holds the Olympic record of 50.39sec. The world record of 49.82sec was set by his idol, fellow Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, at the 2009 Rome meet. Schooling was reportedly calm yesterday and almost nonchalant about rewriting history. He said, in a report by The New Paper : “I’m actually more concerned with how (golfer Jordan) Spieth is doing at the (British) Open right now. I've finished my job for today." Singapore's other national representative, Quah Zheng Wen, will be competing in the 100m backstroke heats today. In the first two finals of the FINA meet, China's Sun Yang emerged the winner of the 400m freestyle with a timing of 3min 41.38sec, beating reigning Olympic champion Mack Horton of Australia (3:43.85) and Gabriele Detti of Italy (3:43.93). American swimmer Katie Ledecky also captured her third straight 400m world title, finishing first with a competition record of 3:58.34 ahead of team-mate Leah Smith (4:01.54) who came in second and China's Li Bingjie (4:03.25) who was third.

Thailand seizes $21m in assets from dead founder of dark net marketplace AlphaBay

BANGKOK, July 24 (Reuters) - Thai police have seized nearly $21 million worth of assets, from cars to cryptocurrency, belonging to the late founder of dark web marketplace AlphaBay, who died in a Bangkok jail this month, they said on Monday. Alexandre Cazes, a 25-year-old Canadian citizen, was arrested in Thailand on July 5 at the request of the United States. Thai police on Monday confirmed he was the administrator of AlphaBay, an online site devoted to the sale of illicit goods, ranging from computer hacking tools to drugs and weapons. AlphaBay was widely considered the biggest online black market for drugs, estimated to host daily transactions totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. Cazes was found dead in his cell at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau in Bangkok on July 12 before he was due to be extradited to the United States, Chalermchai said. "We have seized over 700 million baht worth of assets, cars, and cryptocurrency," deputy national police chief Chalermkiat Sriworakan told Reuters. The sum is equivalent to $21 million. Cazes faced charges related to narcotics distribution, identity theft, money laundering and other crimes. It was unclear if Cazes had been provided a lawyer or if police had appointed one for him, as is sometimes the case in Thailand. His Thai wife, Sunisa Cazes, also faces a money laundering charge. She is in custody and Reuters was unable to reach her for comment. Cazes, referred to as "DeSnake" by some in the online community, operated chiefly from Thailand, where media said he owned several properties and had connections in many countries. His arrest followed a police operation called Bayonet, which involved authorities in six countries including the FBI, the Dutch National Police and the Royal Thai Police. AlphaBay was "the largest dark net marketplace in history", U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last week, when he announced its shutdown by the U.S. Justice Department.

What's Happening

Japan PM Abe denies favours for friend amid falling support

TOKYO, July 24 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his ratings sinking over a suspected cronyism scandal, said on Monday he had never instructed that preferential treatment be given to a long-time friend and that his friend had never lobbied for favours. Abe and his aides have repeatedly denied intervening to help Kake Gakuen (Kake Educational Institution) win approval for a veterinary school in a special economic zone. Its director, Kotaro Kake, is a friend of Abe. Abe acknowledged that Kake had been his friend since they were students and told a special session of parliament's lower house budget committee that Kake had "never once" sought favours. "There was no request or lobbying regarding the establishment of a new veterinary school," Abe said. Asked if he had intervened in the approval process, Abe said: "I have never issued instructions regarding specific cases." The scandal, and a perception among many voters that Abe's administration is taking them for granted, are encouraging rivals and casting doubt on Abe's hopes for a third three-year term as ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader. Several opinion polls have shown Abe's support has plunged below 30 percent and, while this does not immediately threaten his job, it does cloud the longer-term outlook. Abe was until recently seen as being on track to become Japan's longest-serving prime minister by winning a third three-year term when his current tenure ends in September 2018. Further pressure is likely to come from Sunday's victory by an opposition candidate in a mayoral election for the northern city of Sendai. That follows an historic defeat for the LDP in elections for the Tokyo assembly earlier this month, a devastating blow since much of Abe's clout has come from his record of leading the party to victories at the polls. A July 22-23 Mainichi newspaper poll published on Sunday showed Abe's support slipping 10 points to 26 percent from the previous survey in June. It also showed that 56 per cent of respondents did not back Abe's government, a 12 point rise. Also scheduled to appear at Monday's session are Abe's aide, Hiroto Izumi, and Kihei Maekawa, who resigned as the education ministry's top bureaucrat in January and has accused the government of distorting the approval process for the veterinary school. Abe is expected to reshuffle his cabinet early next month in an effort to repair his damaged ratings, a step often taken by beleaguered leaders but one that can backfire if novice ministers become embroiled in scandals or make gaffes. Also in trouble is Defence Minister Tomomi Inada, an Abe protege, who faces calls to resign over media reports of direct involvement in a ministry cover-up of documents about a sensitive peacekeeping operation. She denies the reports Opposition lawmakers are also expected to grill Abe about media reports that Inada allowed defence officials to conceal logs about the activities of the Self-Defense Forces, as Japan's military is known, in a U.N.-led peacekeeping operation in South Sudan.

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Uber Singapore’s GM says this simple philosophy is what keeps him in top form

[caption id="attachment_353421" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Uber Singapore's general manager, Warren Tseng, had to start the company's Southeast Asia operations from scratch.[/caption]
Uber Singapore
He is at the helm of one of the biggest names in Singapore’s tech scene, but Uber Singapore general manager Warren Tseng’s career did not unfold in traditional linear fashion. The 34-year-old, who hails from Los Angeles, has come a long way from his engineering days in university. While his first job was in the venture capital industry, he later earned an MBA and became a trader with Credit Suisse in Hong Kong. Then one day, he decided he would work for one of the world’s fastest growing firms in an industry that is on the forefront of change - something he had never done before. This unfamiliar world represented a fresh challenge for Tseng. He was what Uber called an "International Launcher". His mission: To build Uber’s business operations in Southeast Asia from the ground up, in markets he had little to no experience in. He started in Jakarta, where he had to educate himself about the market and country’s laws. From there, he built a new team, found business partners, and did everything that was needed to build an entire business from scratch. “When you push your own limits of what you think you can do, there’s usually only good things that come out of that,” he tells Business Insider in an interview at Uber Singapore’s 35th floor office in Tanjong Pagar. Pushing his limits has allowed him to discover just how much he can accomplish. After Jakarta, Tseng went on to start Uber’s business in Thailand and Lion City Rentals in Singapore, tackling brand new challenges head-on each time he moved to a new city. But the difficulties of running a tech company in a fast-changing environment do not stop there, they are new all the time. “This is a completely new industry so every single day, it’s like venturing into the unknown,” he says. But while things change very quickly in Uber’s world of cutting-edge technology, there’s one thing about Tseng that does not budge - his adaptability. “Being able to be adaptable is one of the biggest things that I pride myself in,” he tells us. “I’ve been exposing myself to very new environments with very new problems to solve, and that has given me the mental flexibility and adaptability to be able to handle being on the frontier all the time.” “So I think that’s one of the biggest things - being able to hone your problem solving abilities and being able to adapt to an ever-changing world,” he says. It must be a good philosophy to have - because after being based here for just two and a half years, Tseng has helped to grow the company’s Singapore office from “three or four people” to around 300 employees working out of a building right smack in the CBD. Besides, there’s got to be a lot of satisfaction when one achieves something no one thought was possible. He says: “When we first arrived in Singapore, people were like: ‘Are you crazy? Why would a commuter want to get into a car with a stranger driving that car?’” “We’ve created that market - people do that every day…. We’ve destroyed that notion that people wouldn’t want to do that.” A year ago, when Uber first launched ride-sharing service UberPool in Singapore, the naysayers were again skeptical. But today, around 25% of all Uber trips here are UberPool trips. As GM, Tseng needs to be on top of things at all times, and consciously makes the effort to ensure he is giving his best to the job. Not only does he stay away from drinking alcohol, he also carefully curates what he eats. “I don’t eat breakfast; I have bulletproof coffee instead,” he says, referring to the coconut oil-butter-coffee concoction which became popular in the Silicon Valley a couple of years ago. It is said to provide nutritional benefits such as suppressed hunger, increased metabolism and mental clarity. He adds: “I prefer not to have food (in the mornings) because I think it weighs me down”. "These are things that I've noticed that I need to do personally. Knowing myself, being mindful and self-aware, (this is) what I need to be at the top of my game all the time." The driven leader gets up at around 7:30am and is the first person in office every day. Getting to work early, he says, helps him get ahead on emails, and allows him to have “a clear head” to work on the demanding tasks awaiting him for the rest of the day. As chief, he lets his team know that they shouldn’t be afraid of failure. One of Uber’s values worldwide is to make big bold bets, which Tseng encourages in his office. “Inherently built into that spirit is that you’ll fail and you’ll fail often. But when you’re in a world that’s moving really fast… you need to embrace failure and learn from failure.”

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5 ways you can dine at fancy Singapore restaurants for half the price

[caption id="attachment_354314" align="alignnone" width="1002"] Open Door Policy, a restaurant at Tiong Bahru.[/caption]
The Straits Times
Eating out in Singapore can be very expensive. A simple bowl of congee in a Chinese restaurant in town can cost as much as $12 if you include GST and service charge. On average, you can expect to spend between $20 to $30 per person when dining out in Singapore. But this is Singapore after all, where we always hope to get more bang for the buck. The good news is that businesses are well aware of that, and have come up with all sorts of ways for kiasu Singaporeans to get the best deals - you just have to know where to look. 1) On your mobile Using mobile apps to score discounts is so common now that there is no longer any excuse for you to be paying full price for your meals outside. One of the most widely-used apps is The Entertainer, which offers 1-for-1 deals on a large number of participating restaurants including Peperoni Pizzeria, Open Door Policy, Kith Cafe and a whole lot more. This year, the fee for a one-year sign-up is $125, but those who purchased the product in 2016 managed to snag it at an early-bird price. Its sister app, Cheers, also offers 1-for-1 deals on drinks at bars and restaurants across Singapore. Another highly-rated app called Eatigo offers discounts at popular restaurants like Paul and Crystal Jade. Unlike The Entertainer, there is no prerequisite fee you have to pay, but the discounts offered can range from 10% to 50% depending on the restaurant and time slot you choose. 2) On food websites If you’re already using websites like Chope and HungryGoWhere to make reservations for your dinner dates, you should also utilise their exclusive promotions pages for dining offers. Some of these restaurants are newcomers but many are also highly-rated establishments. [caption id="attachment_354316" align="alignnone" width="808"] Screengrab of HungryDeals[/caption] Food reservation sites also offer discounts for special events like wine tastings and champagne brunches, as well as special occasion meal packages such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day set meals. So you see, there really is no need to break the bank to impress someone you like. It’s the quality of the date that makes the experience. 3) Through reward programmes The next time you’re at your favourite restaurant, check with service staff if the restaurant is a participant in any rewards or deals programmes. Many Japanese restaurants, for example, are enrolled in the J Passport programme. Members of J Passport are offered sign-up promotions and have access to regular discounts at participating restaurants. If you frequent a certain mall or area, you can also sign up for memberships specific to that place. For instance, Ion Orchard’s Ion+ Rewards programme and Suntec City’s Suntec Rewards programme both offer exclusive discounts on shopping and dining via their respective mobile apps. You can also earn points with dollars spent, and redeem these points for prizes or other privileges at the malls. 4) Via credit card promotions Credit cards in Singapore offer a wide range of perks, and if you dine out often, you should consider signing up for a card with restaurant-related benefits. If you opt to have the latest promotions emailed to you, you will receive regular updates on the latest deals offered by your credit card company. Many times, these discounts can go up to 50% with 1-for-1 offers at high-end restaurants. While you may not utilise these deals for every meal, such promotions can come in handy when you want to have a nice meal for special occasions like a family gathering or a big birthday celebration. 5) On coupon sites Coupon websites may have gotten some flak previously, but if you are careful with your purchases, the deals can still be pretty sweet. Fave, which was previously known as Groupon, received a fresh makeover in recent months and is now easier to navigate than before. Some of the deals offered in the last couple of months include a 55% discount for a Peranakan buffet dinner at Hotel Grand Pacific, and 78% off the usual price of a lobster and sushi meal at Amara Hotel’s Santaro By Gion. And if you are an online shopper, you may have realised that online mall Qoo10 also has a deals section where you can buy restaurant vouchers at cheaper rates. On this site, you can read real user reviews of the deals offered before deciding whether or not to buy it. So if you find a deal is not as good as it seems, you can take your money somewhere else.

Your approach to yoga may have been wrong all along – here’s why

The point of stillness in your own posture is the goal, not what the posture looks like in the mirror. Source: Maria Lourdes Chan
The popularity of yoga is experiencing a boom, just 40 years or so since it was introduced commercially to the Western world. But modern-day yoga and how it’s run is slightly off-track. Today’s yoga model is a business. Yoga is, by and large, sold as a fitness regime, with studios running on a gym or club model – that is, on a “membership” scheme. You buy class packages, and are encouraged to look at facilities as part of your decision-making process on where you practice. The truth of yoga is that it is an education that doesn’t just make better bodies, it makes the practitioner better at dealing with life. But because the “gym model” is so prevalent in yoga, students are approaching the practice in a skewed way and it’s time for the dynamic to change. Here are 5 tips on how to create a mind-shift that will affect the way you view yoga, and how you practice. Don’t let your GuavaPass determine where you practice. Choose your studio based on who’s teaching, not on how much a class costs. Look first and foremost at the quality of the teachers and programme, just like you would a university. The questions to ask are: Who are the teachers? Who did they study with, and what lineage does the yoga they teach come from? If you’re new, just finding a style you enjoy is the goal, and that’s where cheap classes, trial sessions and GuavaPasses come in handy. But as someone moving into more regular practice, ask who, ultimately, you would be learning from. Yes, how much you can afford will be a consideration, and that’s fine. But the idea here is, don’t chase the price tag – make quality the priority. Don’t relate to your yoga teachers like they’re a gym trainer. Many students – whether they know it or not – relate to their teacher as they would their gym trainer. It’s not their fault, it’s again because yoga is perceived as “fitness”. Yoga, traditionally, is not “gym training” or simply “exercise”. Yoga, beyond the physical, is a meditation technique. Meditation is defined as “concentration”. Each posture or pose allows you to focus very deeply on the part of the body you’re working. You also are given the opportunity to look at how you are approaching the pose, and how you relate to your body. Over time, the effect is that you know your own mind. So, relate to your teacher as a sinsei, one who can Show You The Way. Your teacher is not just a physical trainer. They are someone who is helping you open the door to deeper self-realisation. Select one yoga to practice. There’s a “buffet” approach to yoga, thanks to yoga centres “diversifying”.  In order to appeal to the masses, many commercial centres will offer everything from Hatha to Yin. The result is confusion. One moment, you’re doing Vinyasa. The next, you’re checked into a Bikram class. The following week, you’re signing yourself up for an Ashtanga session. This approach leads to a focus on what “entertains” you, and distracts you from actually learning. So, pick one discipline to follow. If you love Ashtanga, find out who the foremost authority is in your area, and learn from the teachers there. If you’re into Iyengar, go to the centre in your country. Be a seeker. Get as close to the original source of the yoga as you can, and absorb. The point is not the posture. Often, questions arise when a posture is taught in class. Questions like “how do I do Crow?” and “how do I improve my hand stand?” show a curious mind that is interested in progress. But the definition of yoga “asana”, which means “posture”, is actually: “Posture holding still, breathing always normal”. When one holds posture in perfect stillness with ease of breath, is where yoga actually happens. Yoga champions have a say that it’s not about getting into the posture, it’s about what you do there. The point of stillness in your own posture – whatever it may be at this moment – is the goal, not what the posture looks like in the mirror.  Understand that yoga is actually therapy. In the system of Ayurveda, which yoga comes from, postures were used to help with diseases and chronic health issues, from heart issues and hypertension to diabetes. Traditionally, specific postures were “prescribed” by Ayurvedic doctors to individuals, based on the health needs of each person. How does this relate to you? Save this information for when you need it. If you’re young and in reasonable health, know that yoga is an option for you when you’re old and infirm. Yoga, when you’re 80 and can no longer run, will be waiting patiently for you to discover it, and for your journey to begin. Jill Alphonso is a writer and has been a yoga practitioner of 15 years. She has taught Bikram yoga since 2013, and has participated in the International Yoga Asana Championships.

Here’s the truth about the actual benefits of Singapore’s health food trends

Gone are the days of fast food domination. These days, it’s cool to eat clean. Unfortunately, many people jump from one superfood trend to the next without first finding out how these foods can affect them. Before trying out a new diet, Derrick Ong, lead dietitian and director of Eat Right Nutrition Consultancy, recommends that you check if your diet has these three things - balance, variety and moderation. To help you decide if your diet is right for you, we went behind the marketing material of some of Singapore's favourite health foods, and asked experts about the truth behind these seven popular health food trends: 1) Juices [caption id="attachment_354367" align="alignnone" width="527"] The Straits Times[/caption] Dr Heng Kiang Soon, a lecturer at Republic Polytechnic’s School of Applied Science, says the nutritional value of fruit juice really depends on what’s in it. Needless to say, fruits with higher sugar content will produce juices with higher sugar levels. Juices are also low in insoluble fibre, which is what is needed to delay the absorption of sugar. “Without insoluble fibre, the sugars (and also other nutrients) will be digested and absorbed faster into bloodstream,” Dr Heng says. Instead of juicing, Dr Heng suggests blending whole fruits and vegetables together so that the insoluble fibre content is not lost. Still, if you are embarking on a juice-only diet, Dr Heng advises against consuming only fruit and vegetable juices in the long-term as they do not provide the full range of nutrients required for metabolism. “In the short term, a juice detox diet may be practiced under professional advice to ensure nutritional adequacy of the person,” he adds. 2) Brown rice [caption id="attachment_354368" align="alignnone" width="775"] The Straits Times[/caption] More and more people are ditching the fluffy white rice in their meals with bowls of nutrient-filled brown rice. “Brown rice is rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients, and this wholegrain is definitely more nutritious than white rice,” Mr Ong says. Nonetheless, people who suffer from constipation, kidney disease, difficulty swallowing and malnutrition should not take brown rice. “Brown rice tends to be higher in potassium than white rice, so people with kidney problems may want to be cautious about over-consuming brown rice,” Mr Ong tells us. Some experts have also warned against taking too much brown rice because of its phytic acid content. According to Dr Heng, phytic acid “is an anti-nutrient as it binds with minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium and inhibits their absorption into the body through the intestine”. But there is a simple solution to that. “Research has shown that soaking grains in water before cooking can significantly cut down their phytic acid content. Even cooking itself will further reduce the phytic acid level,” Dr Heng says. Soaking brown rice overnight before cooking can also enhance its palatability, he adds. 3) Gluten-free food [caption id="attachment_354366" align="alignnone" width="800"] The Straits Times[/caption] From cakes to pizza dough, many Singaporeans are opting for gluten-free alternatives in their meals. However, scientists at Harvard have found that unless you have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, going gluten-free is not actually going to improve your health. The long-running study also discovered that people who ate the most gluten were at no greater risk for a heart attack than those who ate the least of it. What they found instead, was that those who consumed less gluten also ate less dietary fibre and whole grains, which can help to prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Dr Heng explains: “Unless one is diagnosed with any of the gluten-related allergies or sensitivity, it is not usually necessary to avoid gluten-containing foods or to go for a gluten-free diet". Nonetheless, Dr Heng says going gluten-free can be a good dietary practice as long as your diet is balanced and meets your nutritional requirements. 4) Coconut water [caption id="attachment_354369" align="alignnone" width="856"] Lianhe Zaobao[/caption] Coconut water’s popularity is rising thanks to its high electrolyte and low sugar content. Take note though: As it is easily spoiled by microbial growth and enzymatic reaction after being exposed to air, Dr Heng says coconut water is best consumed fresh. Moreover, packaged coconut water may have lost some of its nutrients and flavour in the packaging process, prompting some manufacturers to enhance its taste with sugar. Hence, it is also unwise to drink too much packaged coconut water if you're trying to lose weight. One way of ensuring that you are drinking additive-free coconut water is to check the product’s contents and look out for the Healthier Choice Symbol on the package, he says. 5) Chia seeds [caption id="attachment_354365" align="alignnone" width="1000"] The Straits Times[/caption] One of the most well-known superfoods in Singapore, the chia seed has an exotic sounding name and is high in nutritional content. While it is a great health food, there is some concern that the health benefits of superfoods such as this are often exaggerated. Mr Ong says that chia seeds are popular a weight-loss food as they swell up in water and promote satiety. But this can be problematic for some people as it can cause uncomfortable bloating as a result. As a nutrient-dense food, chia seeds may also interfere with certain medications and treatments, and people who wish to add it to their diet should check with their doctor beforehand. 6) Avocado [caption id="attachment_354364" align="alignnone" width="800"] The Straits Times[/caption] The avocado’s buttery goodness is hard to resist, and you might find yourself adding an entire fruit to your salad twice a day. It’s healthy fat, so eating more of it should be good for you, right? Well, not exactly. According to Mr Ong, ⅓ of an average avocado contains around 140 kcal of energy. When blended, an avocado shake - without added sugar- can easily contain about 300 kcal. “A useful tip to make sure you don't overdo the calories is to ask for less (or no) sugar, and to avoid 'upsizing' the shake. If having the shake with a meal, consider having a lighter meal with less calories to avoid busting the calorie budget for the meal or the day,” he says. In a similar vein, Dr Heng says it is better to make sure you exercise moderation and variety when consuming fruits like avocados. “Do not just limit yourself to one type of fruit. Instead, take a variety of fruits to obtain various types of phytochemicals and nutrients. Including an avocado into a daily diet is fine as long as the total caloric intake is still within a healthy range,” he suggests. 7) Kale [caption id="attachment_354363" align="alignnone" width="800"] Shin Min[/caption] Why people love kale is plain to see - it’s packed with numerous phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and fibre, and can help prevent a variety of illnesses. Despite the benefits, some experts recommend that people with thyroid problems should stay away from kale, or speak to their doctors before adding the dark leafy green to their diets. This is because kale contains a type of anti-nutrient called glucosinolate, which can inhibit the absorption of iodine by the thyroid gland. But Dr Heng assures us that this is unlikely to be a problem unless you consume an unusually large amount of kale. Furthermore, glucosinolates can be degraded by heat, so eating kale cooked instead of raw will help resolve this problem. Kale does, however, contain raffinose, which can cause bloating and gas problems for those with sensitive digestive systems. This doesn’t mean you have to cut out kale completely from your diet though - you just have to avoid overdoing it.  

Luxury brand boutiques continue to thrive at MBS despite Singapore’s brick-and-mortar retail slump – here’s why

Retail stores and shoppers at the luxury shopping mall at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
The Straits Times
The digital age is causing a major shake-up in the retail industry with brick-and-mortar shops struggling to stay ahead of online store offerings. But luxury brands appear to be the exemption from this market trend, as shoppers continue to appreciate being able to visit a single destination for all their needs and wants, according to Mr John Postle, vice-president of retail at Marina Bay Sands (MBS). He told Business Insider: "They want to walk into a store, touch the products, be pampered and have service staff look after their needs and wants. "They are also after exclusivity - and would go the extra mile for bespoke products and services." The proof is in the numbers. The Shoppes at MBS, Singapore's largest luxury shopping mall, saw a 32% increase in mall revenue (S$229 million) compared to figures from 2011, when it first opened. As part of the integrated resort (IR), The Shoppes is home to more than 170 premium brands under one roof and is frequented daily by a 130,000-strong crowd made up of global and local clientele. Of Singapore's current retail trends, Mr Postle said: "Even as media reports lament the fall of the brick and mortar stores in this digital age, what we've found in luxury retail is quite the opposite." To cater to these shoppers, Mr Postle added that many single unit retailers at The Shoppes have chosen to double their presence, with MBS now housing more than 15 luxury duplex and triplex stores - the biggest in the region. In a press statement on July 11, MBS announced that a diverse range of renowned luxury brands are slated to join The Shoppes later this year. They include notable names like French fashion powerhouse Balmain, boutique jeweler Nirav Modi and French perfume house Henry Jacques, that will open its first and only standalone store in Southeast Asia. Expansion plans are also in the works for French fashion brand Chanel as well as American jewellery boutique Tiffany & Co. In the next decade, Mr Postle believes "that the physical shopping experience will continue to prevail or even co-exist in a thriving digital retail landscape." "There are high value experiences that cannot be replicated in an online environment - nothing can be compared to a shopper's excitement of entering a physical store and being treated like a VIP, or the satisfaction of walking out of the store with your purchases in hand," he explained.