The Straits Times | Mar 21, 2013
Singapore's malls are peppered with the same brands as global retailers are often charged lower rent than local firms, according to organisers of the World Retail Congress Asia Pacific.
This has created an artificial market which "unfairly discriminates against small and mid-sized" companies, said its head of content, Ms Lucy Van Den Heede.
"Mall managers have aggressively pursued global retailers with competitive rents," she added. "This means big brands pay on average almost two-thirds lower than the market rate."
Ms Van Den Heede, who is in town for the two-day conference, said "unequal rent treatments" have led to the influx of big names, while smaller firms are priced out.
Retailers and mall developers typically keep mum on rental rates. But Singapore Retailers Association president Jannie Chan said that in 2008, big brands were getting discounts of up to 30 per cent compared to small and mid-sized ones. "They are still getting preferential (rates), there's no question," she added.
Shoppers wondered if more could be done to help local businesses grow. Said piano teacher Geraldine Goh, 27: "Sometimes, I get so sick of the same brands."
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