JEM shopping mall closed indefinitely

JEM shopping mall closed indefinitely
Retail employees removing perishables from the mall.
Published: 4:03 AM, September 20, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, September 21, 2013
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SINGAPORE — JEM shopping mall, which has been beset with problems since its opening in June, will be shut indefinitely over the latest incident where a portion of the false ceiling collapsed on Wednesday night due to a burst main water pipe. Escalators and lifts were also damaged by the water.

The closure will hit the bottomline of 241 stores in the mega mall at Jurong East — the third-largest suburban mall here — including big-name retailers such as H&M, Muji, Books Kinokuniya, Victoria’s Secret, COURTS and Marche Movenpick.

Already, some of the retailers said they are seeking talks over the issue of compensation with the mall’s owner and developer, Lend Lease, which is shutting the mall down for an indefinite period as a “precautionary measure”.

Courts CEO Terry O’Connor said: “Whenever there is an incident, there is a concern over the commercial effect on our business. We do not want our customers going somewhere else.” He added that the incidents — there were two fires at the mall last month, before the ceiling collapse — were “unrelated”. “You can say it’s been a series of unfortunate events,” he said.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said it has ordered the building owner to close off the affected area and to get a Professional Engineer to check all the false ceilings in the mall and investigate the nature of the false ceiling collapse.

Site inspections by BCA engineers found that there was a leak in the water pipe. “The weight of the water, which collected on the false ceiling, was a likely cause of the false ceiling collapse. The structural integrity of the building is not affected,” said the BCA.

Lend Lease, an Australian developer which is also responsible for 313@Somerset and Parkway Parade, said rectification works have commenced. “As a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of the public, retailers and staff, comprehensive checks and tests are continuing.”

The centre will remain closed today “and until such time that the safety checks and tests and all rectification works are completed”, said Lend Lease, adding that it will be providing further updates.

Mr Adrin Loi, Executive Chairman of Ya Kun which has an outlet in JEM, said there should be an understanding between the landlord and tenants on the issue of compensation in situations like these. “As a rule of thumb, I think they know what to do,” he said.

Mr Eric Too, the head of retail at Handphone Shop — an authorised dealer for M1, said his company is tabulating the projected losses, including the impact on the sales staff whose salaries rely on commission. “During this time, when JEM is not open, we have to take into consideration a minimum commission for them to take home as well, because all these incidents should not affect them,” he said.

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