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SINGAPORE — Swedish minimalist label J. Lindeberg has opened its first stand-alone boutique in Southeast Asia in a ritzy mall on this city’s main shopping drag, Orchard Road.
The 1,200-square-foot store makes its home in the Mandarin Gallery, where neighbors include Emporio Armani and Montblanc.
J. Lindeberg has been selling golf apparel in golf clubs and sportswear stores in Southeast Asia since 2006 through a distribution partnership with sportswear distributor Transview Lifestyle Pte Ltd. The Mandarin Gallery boutique sells only the fashion line, while a Transview boutique one level up sells golf clothing. “When we progress into a new region or country, we usually either start with our fashion or sports lines. When sales are encouraging, we introduce more,” said Johan Lund, J. Lindeberg’s head of retail, adding brand is eyeing potential locations in Bangkok and Kuala Lampur.
Derrick Lim, Transview’s manager for business development, said sales of J. Lindeberg golfwear in Southeast Asia have grown 300 percent since 2006, partly thanks to tie-ups with PGA stars such as Colombia’s Camilo Villegas. He did not provide more specific sales figures.
Singapore is considered a mature market but it’s a key shopping destination for the region. According to figures from the Singapore Tourism Board, tourists spent $3.59 billion on shopping here in 2011, up 13 percent from the prior year.
Still, J. Lindeberg has to contend with the fact that it lacks the name recognition of bigger fashion and luxury players.
“We don’t have the resources to market as extensively as some of our competitors,” said Lund, who listed Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Paul Smith as his competitors. The neatly cut horizontal-striped polo shirts and wool travel jackets sold here seem more similar to workwear offered by the likes of Muji, which can be more than one-third cheaper. T-shirts cost upwards of $63 and jackets $510 and up. (Some of the price difference may be explained by J. Lindeberg’s extensive use of organic cotton.)
There’s also the heavy initial investment needed to set up in Singapore. According to a 2011 report by global real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, the average rent for retail space in Orchard Road was $371 a square foot a year, making it the 16th most expensive shopping street in the world and, by far, the most expensive in Southeast Asia.
Lund said that the label will adapt to the region. “In Stockholm, it’s 5 degrees [Celsius], in Singapore, it’s 35,” he said. “The color palette and fabrics will be different.”
The ski collection, which makes up about 10 percent of global sales, will be introduced later on and in small quantities, Lim said. And partly because J. Lindeberg sells more men’s wear by proportion in Asia than in Europe, a women’s J. Lindeberg line will not be introduced here until a later date.
J. Lindeberg’s expansion into the region comes after the sale of a majority stake in the company by Sweden’s Proventus Capital Partners last September. The company is now owned by three Danish investors who also own Denmark’s Bestseller Fashion Group, along with chief executive officer Jonas Meerits and global brand director Stefan Engström.
“Proventus was great but for the next step we needed experts.…It’s now about multilayered retail on three continents,” Lund said.
According to a release made available at the time of the Proventus sale, J. Lindeberg had annual revenue of about 30 million euros, or $39.38 million at current exchange.