After recording six years of losses in Singapore, Hong Kong cosmetics giant Sasa will close all 22 of its retail stores in the Republic.
Announcing the decision on Monday (Dec 2), the retailer said the move will affect a total of 170 employees, who will be fully compensated in accordance with local employment laws and regulations.
In a release, the company said that it had “taken measures in recent years to restructure the local management team and to enhance store display and product mix with a view to driving sales”.
However, results were regretfully “far from satisfactory”, it said.
For the six months ended September 30, the turnover for its Singapore operations was HK$99.4 million (S$17.3 million), a decline of 4.6 per cent from last year.
The closure is part of Sasa’s efforts to focus resources on its core market in Hong Kong, which has become “extremely difficult due to a drastic decline” in mainland China tourists arrivals.
In order to make up for the lost traffic, the group said it will speed up its expansion to mainland China, as well as the development of its e-commerce business.
In addition, the management team that currently manages both Singapore and Malaysia operations will reshift its focus to develop the Malaysian operations which Sasa says has a higher potential for profitability.
Netizens have since took to social media to express their dismay.
One Facebook user wrote: “WHAT?! Sasa to close down?! Then where can I buy cheaper cosmetics?!”
In response to the post, some netizens blamed the closure on the entry of Sephora, saying that it looked “more hip and has better visual appeal” than Sasa.
Another user, Sally AL Ong, wrote that retailers like Sasa are losing out because they have to “mark up higher to cover their rental and staff overheads” while many online sellers could sell products at much lower prices.
However, there were also people who recounted bad experiences at Sasa. One Facebook user said that it was “no fun at all” to shop there as “(salesgirls) just look hard at you if you test or touch their few display tester products”.
In comparison, Sephora was “lots of fun”, the netizen said.
Another netizen also claimed that Sasa staff would “follow two steps behind” customers and made them feel uncomfortable. Some products were also cheaper in other stores, he said.
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