Naiise, the multi-label retailer that went against the mainstream and evolved from an online presence to a brick-and-mortar retailer, is not in a good spot as of now.
The retailer has five stores locally, two which opened in 2019 at Paya Lebar Quarter and Jewel Changi Airport. It also has a store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and manages the retail floor at Design Orchard, a creative facility for nurturing local designers established jointly by Enterprise Singapore, Singapore Tourism Board and JTC Corporation.
Even though Naiise is the largest selling platform for local designers, a few homegrown brands have cut back on supplies or pulled out in recent weeks.
Speaking to the Straits Time, ten vendors detailed the chasing of payment for years, with owed sales in the thousands of dollar. Recently, half of the vendors have begun pulling their stock out due to the financial difficulties of Naiise.
Freshly Pressed Socks, a budding local brand, benefited by using Naiise to sell its quirky designs when it started business in 2015.
Freshly Pressed Socks has since decided to terminate its relationship with Naiise three weeks ago: “When we first started out, a lot of people found out about us through Naiise, and we will always be grateful for that. But it’s no longer sustainable to work with them,” Freshly Pressed Socks told the Straits Times.
Vendors mentioned that troubles started brewing since 2016, as Naiise was starting to stock more products.
Gradually, consistent payment delays, late sales reports, evasive replies and accounting discrepancies started becoming the norm and small firms were also crippled by their interrupted cashflow.
Dennis Tay, the founder of Naiise remarked that the company was hiring more workers into the finance team as well as dealing with administrative issues. Naiise is challenging to manage due to its large scale, stocking up around 800 brands, of them 600 are local brands.
“I do get messages sometimes about payment. Usually I look into it and speak to the finance team to get it resolved,” Mr Tay added, and he apologised for “delayed payments to some of our brands”.
Cash flow conditions have been tough even with operating revenues increasing more than 40 per cent year-on-year, he further remarked.
However, Design Orchard has not experienced payment problems to brands for sales. Naiise will strive to ensure the payments are made swiftly, “Amid a challenging retail environment in 2019, we have helped more than 60 per cent of our brands achieve positive year-on-year sales growth last year.”
Many vendors reasoned that they stuck with Naiise because it is one of the only few platforms for local creatives.
The founder of homeware retailer and craft studio and Concrete Everything, Alvin Chan commented that “it’s a real problem that designers don’t have avenues to sell their stuff.” Concrete Everything has pulled out last month after not getting payment since February 2019 with amounts owed between $800 and $1,000.
Anonymous vendors mentioned their ongoing negotiations and agreements with Naiise and their worries over the company’s cashflow problems. One of them also remarked that “if you don’t say anything, they don’t pay you.”
Naiise also owed a five figure amount to another vendor who entrusted goods from several brands to Naiise. The vendor told the company that it too is pulling out because “they say they’re supporting local and helping the design scene but they’re not paying us”.
A former worker at Naiise recalled that the firm grew rapidly in 2015 despite the lack in clear direction. By 2016, delays started occurring in the payments to both employees and vendors.