First Strike

Just as we were learning that the SG authorities will limit the gathering outside of school and work to 10 people, and that entertainment spots are to close, we were brought to the attention of luxury retail’s first victim of the COVID-19 pandemic


Toshin Development Sg mail to tenant 24 Mar 2020

This notice was brought to our attention this afternoon. The communique was signed by Toshin Development Singapore’s general manager Shuichi Hidaka. It informed tenants of the 27-year-old Takashimaya Shopping Centre that a case of COVID-19 was confirmed and “that an employee at one of the stores at Level 1 had contracted the virus”.

Although the tenant was not identified in the mail, news had spread among the mall’s retail personnel after lunch that a female staffer at Fendi (situated on level 1) had tested positive for COVID-19 today. SOTD has not been able to independently established the veracity of this mail or what’s been shared on social media, but readers who had visited Takashimaya Shopping Centre earlier, told us that Fendi, refurbished just three years ago, was closed, the area around it was cordoned off, and a large cleaning crew was “hard at work”.

20-03-25-16-09-43-340_decoA discreet, surprisingly weak-resolution notice in a small font size next to the closed main door of Fendi. No mention of an infected staff. Photo: Gwen Goh

Toshin Development Singapore, the Japanese-owned company that manages the spaces outside Takashimaya Department Store—from basement 2 to level 4—on which the 130-plus specialty and luxury boutiques are spread, assured tenants that the building’s Emergency Response Team “was immediately activated to disinfect all affected common areas in Takashimaya Shopping Centre and Ngee Ann City (NAC).”

While that is reassuring and an appreciable rapid response, it has not stopped alarmists from quickly telling the public: “Pls do not meet any of their staff for now till they have completed their 14 days quarantine (sic).” Or, worse, “Try to Avoid NAC, just in case.” Luxury/fashion retail is now a veritable ghost town. Persistent scare-mongering isn’t going to help.

Update (22.30): Fendi has issued a statement to confirm that an employee has tested positive, and the six colleagues in the store will be on a 14-day isolation. The Takashimaya Shopping Centre store will be closed until 26 March 2020