Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Asia, Douglas Benjamin, Group CEO of FJ Benjamin Holdings (FJB), said that he felt strongly that retailers should challenge themselves to reinvent traditional notions of shopping.
“I think everybody, whether its retailers or landlords, everybody agrees that retail needs to change. It’s all become very cookie-cutter and boring. There needs to be new experiences in retail.”
Established in 1959, FJB is a Singapore-based retailer and distributor that manages over 20 fashion and lifestyle brands and operates 144 stores.
Reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 on the retail market in Singapore, Benjamin said there was a “change in mindset” among consumers.
“People now want to spoil themselves because you never know where life will take you. During the circuit breaker, we weren’t allowed to leave our home and now we just want to live life.”
No doors, no bounds: All about experiences
FJB recently unveiled Avenue on 3, a new multi-label fashion and lifestyle retail concept in Orchard Road, Singapore’s prime shopping district. The luxury brick-and-mortar houses fashion brands such as Aquazzura and Loewe, as well as beauty brands Dr. Barbara Sturm and MZ Skin.
The 8,000-square-foot space combines shopping with dining and beauty services to offer a new kind of retail experience for consumers.
“We wanted to put all these different things together and create an experience. It doesn’t matter if you can or can’t afford a pair of thousand-dollar shoes, you can still do your nails, have a facial, or have a coffee. Everyone who has come [to Avenue on 3]… they are happy to be here and happy to have a different place to go to,” said Benjamin.
For beauty consumers, Avenue on 3 is a place to experience new products through facial services. The boutique houses suites for blowouts, massages, and manicures as well.
For beauty, experiences are especially crucial. Benjamin highlighted the company’s time running a pop-up for Dr Barbara Sturm.
“We had a Dr. Barbara Sturm pop up that we kept extending because business was growing. And one thing people always asked for were facials. We’ve started the service here so at the same time, people who don’t know the brand can have a bit of a taster.”
The company also reimagined how a store should look like, forgoing traditional storefronts, doors, and signage.
“You don’t know that you have entered the store. There are no doors or windows, it’s like you’re on the streets of New York or Paris. It encourages you to walk down and take a look and go on a journey of discovery,” said Benjamin.
Retailers like FJB are also facing the challenge of navigating hurdles presented by the intensifying cost of living crisis.
While Avenue on 3 is a luxury fashion and beauty destination, it was important that it remain democratic and welcoming to all, said Benjamin.
“You can come to have a cup of coffee for six dollars, you don’t have to worry about blowing a few hundred to come here. There’s something for everybody.”