Naiise closes last store at Jewel, may wind up operations

Multi-label retailer Naiise may wind up after years of payment delays to its vendors. It said last Friday it is closing its remaining store at Jewel Changi Airport.

Jewel confirmed to The Straits Times on Saturday that the retailer will be closing its outlet at the airport mall.

"A tenant has been found to take over the space," its spokesman said. The identity of the tenant will be revealed when the store is ready to open.

In a video posted on Facebook on Friday by debt collectors, Naiise founder Dennis Tay could be seen explaining that he is unable to repay its client Bespoke Parfums Artisanaux, which said it is owed about $10,000.

Citing factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic and weak retail sales, Mr Tay explained that he was unable to honour the debt repayment plan he had promised some vendors because of lack of funds.

Naiise's decision comes after having owed hundreds of vendors payments for goods it sold on a consignment basis for years, with some vendors having complained of delayed payments since 2016.

The sums owed range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. Even while it owed vendors money, the retailer continued to expand.

It had five stores here last year, having opened its Jewel Changi Airport and Paya Lebar Quarter outlets in 2019.

From January 2019, it managed the retail floor at Design Orchard, though it pulled out last July citing reasons such as the pandemic's impact on the economy and its business. In the same month, it also shuttered its Paya Lebar Quarter outlet.

In an e-mail to some vendors last December, Mr Tay proposed a monthly repayment scheme, in which he would pay vendors about $200 each month from September this year.

But vendors said Mr Tay soon fell behind on the repayments.

More than 180 vendors have joined the Facebook group Naiise Vendors, where discussions are taking place on ways to recover sums owed, such as hiring debt collectors, going to the Small Claims Tribunals and taking legal action.

But many vendors that ST spoke to know there is no guarantee they will get their money back.

Naiise, which did not respond to queries from ST, continues to operate its website, which pays vendors instantly unlike the consignment model it operated in its physical stores. - THE STRAITS TIMES