Not a Naiise move

Singapore’s home-grown retailer Naiise shuttered its remaining outlet in Jewel Changi Airport last weekend, making a sad ending to a business that was a champion for locally-designed stuff.

According to reports, its founder Dennis Tay had run out of money to keep the business afloat. He is also said to have exhausted his saving, borrowed from banks and is in the process of filing for personal bankruptcy.

While his side of the story is indeed sad, one can’t help but feel for the many suppliers who are left unpaid for sales of products — sold on a consignment basis.

The sums owed are not large and are unlikely to cause any of them to fold but it is still bad business practice from Naiise.

Suppliers have been unpaid from as far back as 2016 — that’s way before the opening of the spanking new outlet, with an in-shop cafe to boot, in Jewel Changi Airport. If the company was already in some form of financial distress, why did it still choose such a fanciful location? It seems that it would rather spend on a new outlet that pay its suppliers, many of which are small businesses.

Such a move could also give vendors the impression that the company is doing well, perhaps gaining a little more goodwill and tolerance when it comes to payment terms.

However, Naiise’ untimely closure plus the personal bankruptcy filed by its founder, may result in many of them remaining unpaid.

It is a fact that COVID-19 has hit retailers such as Naiise badly. But that doesn’t negate the fact that the retailer has been delinquent in paying vendors even before the pandemic.

The whole experience is part and parcel of the risk of doing business for the affected vendors. It is a painful lesson. But hopefully, it’s one that they will learn well from and that emerge stronger and succeed.

As consumers, we can support local companies by buying their products. They may not be as cheap as those bought online but treat it as our contribution to build a sustainable local market.

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