Royal Sporting House



Royal Sporting House is one of the largest sports goods distributors and retailer of well-known fashion labels in Singapore.1 It was first established in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1935, and incorporated in Singapore in 1977 as Royal Sporting House (RSH) Ltd.2 Over the years, RSH expanded its portfolio of brands and products across apparel and sports goods. In 2015, the company was ranked 15th in retailing, second in apparel and footwear specialist retailers, and the first in sports goods stores in Singapore, according to Euromonitor International.3

Corporate history
Royal Sporting House (RSH) was founded by M. S. Gill in Indonesia in 1935.4 In 1969, Gill set up a base in Singapore for buying and sourcing goods for his Indonesian business.5 His son, Jagdev Singh Gill (J. S Gill), settled in Singapore in 1978 to help out at their first retail outlet at High Street Centre, which was opened in 1975.6 He later ventured out on his own, and established his first retail store, also called Royal Sporting House, selling sports merchandise in Lucky Plaza shopping centre in 1979.7

From then on, RSH rode on the wave of the fitness craze that hit Singapore in the 1980s, when aerobics became popular, and enjoyed rapid expansion.8 Outlets were soon opened at Far East Plaza, Centrepoint, Changi Airport and Wisma Atria, which was the largest when it opened in 1986. J. S Gill also experimented with different service concepts, specialisation and consumer markets. He opened Sports Station at Scotts Shopping Centre and Marina Square as a supermarket for low-cost sports goods, in contrast to his up-market casual wear Lacoste boutiques at Centrepoint and Wisma Atria selling premium polo shirts.9

J. S. Gill also opened a franchised store, Athlete’s Foot, at Marina Square in 1987. It was the first of its kind in the region, and offered more than 150 different types of athletic shoes for all ages.10 The sports goods retailer was also represented in department stores such as Printemps, Galleries Lafayette and Metro.11 In 1995, the company introduced a new sales concept called “Why Pay More” which promoted a self-service culture and employed physically disabled people as cashiers in all such outlets.12 By the 1990s, the company owned retail stores operating under more than 10 different names, including Athlete’s Foot, Sports Station, Stadium and Golf House.13

The turning point for RSH came in 1987 when it established a joint-venture distribution firm with Reebok to market Reebok products not only in Singapore, but also in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.14 Other franchises followed: Sunglass Hut International, Pentland Group, a British brand management company dealing in the sport, outdoor and fashion markets, and retail company, NEXT.15 By 1989, RSH had acquired the rights to represent established international brands  such as Lacoste, Niblick, Wilson, Babolat VS, Taylor Made, Tommy Armour, Spalding and K-Swiss.16

In 1991, RSH was appointed by Mizuno – then the world’s largest manufacturer of golfing equipment and accessories – as its sole distributor in Singapore and Indonesia.17 The following year, the company began producing its own Ogaan range of sports shoes, which were designed and engineered in the United Kingdom. The shoes were reasonably priced between $29 and $79 to fill a void in the branded sports-shoe market, where most shoes cost more than $100.18

With maturing retail market conditions in the early 1990s, RSH turned its focus to manufacturing. It secured license agreements with popular sporting brands, such as Reebok, Speedo, Spalding, Avia and Major League Baseball, to produce their polo shirts, tee-shirts, track suits and shorts in their factory in Malaysia. In 1994, the company announced plans to build sports facilities in China and India.19

The Asian economic crisis in 1997/98 became an opportunity for the company to capitalise on affordable retail spaces. It embarked on an expansion spree of its sporting and fashion franchises around the region as well as diversified its operations to countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Dubai, India, Thailand and the Philippines.20

The company was listed on the Singapore Exchange in 2000 as Royal Clicks, and was renamed RSH in 2003.21 In 2007, J. S Gill  and his wife, Sajni Gill, resigned as the chief executive and  director respectively, when the company was acquired by Golden Ace, a joint venture between Indian real estate developer MGF and Dubai-based Emaar Properties.22 In 2008, it was estimated that RSH’s net worth was $370 million.23 With 1,100 shops in 12 countries and 60 brands under its belt, the company was reputed as a distributor and retailer of sports, golf and fashion products.24

Following a takeover offer by Peak Retail Investments, a firm owned by Malaysian businessman Syed Azmin bin Syed Nor in September 2010, RSH had its shares suspended from trading, and was delisted from the Singapore Exchange in October the following month.25 In 2012, Dubai conglomerate Al-Futtaim invested in RSH at an undisclosed figure.26 By 2016, the company had obtained exclusive rights to distribute more than 90 renowned labels and brands such as Bebe, Mango, Nautica, Pull & Bear and Zara.27

Accomplishments and awards
In 1993, RSH received the Singapore Business Enterprise Award organised by global logistics company DHL and The Business Times. The following year, it won the inaugural International Sports Retailer of the Year award presented by Sports International, a well-known trade publication based in Chicago.28

In 1995, the company was honoured at the inaugural Enterprise 50 Awards, which recognises local, privately held companies that have supported economic development in Singapore and abroad.29 Between 2002 and 2004, it won the “Retail Courtesy” Gold award and the Singapore Retail Association award, and was among the 10 finalists of the inaugural Singapore Indian Entrepreneur Awards in 2004.30



Author

Esther Wang Ying Jie 



References
1. Conrad, R. (2009, August 24). Powered by sports and fashion. Today, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Official opening ceremony of the Royal Sporting House. (1975, April 30). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Royal Sporting House (RSH) Ltd in retailing (Singapore). (2016, January 15). Euromonitor Local Company Profiles. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
3. Royal Sporting House (RSH) Ltd in retailing (Singapore). (2016, January 15). Euromonitor Local Company Profiles. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

4. One-stop sports store. (1984, May 29). The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. RSH: Retail giant targets mid-price market. (2008, May 31). The Straits Times, p. 72. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Teo, A. (1987, May 25). Royal treatment for sports enthusiasts. The Business Times, p. 2; Official opening ceremony of the Royal Sporting House. (1975, April 30). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Lui, J. (2012, October 15). Gill builds retail empires. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Gamboa, E. (1985, February 3). The business of fitness. The Straits Times, p. 21; Teo, A. (1987, May 25). Royal treatment for sports enthusiasts. The Business Times, p. 2; RSH: Retail giant targets mid-price market. (2008, May 31). The Straits Times, p. 72. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Teo, A. (1987, May 25). Royal treatment for sports enthusiasts. The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Teo, A. (1987, May 25). Athlete's Foot steps into Marina Square. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Teo, A. (1987, May 25). Royal treatment for sports enthusiasts. The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Lam, J. (1995, April 21). Royal Sporting House launches new sales concept. The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Seah, L. (1995, June 11). Clash of two sporting titans hots up. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Maddox, M. (1991, December). Running away with the market. Singapore Business, 15(12), p. 81. Available via PublicationSG; Royal Sporting House to expand regionally: Singapore HQ oversees regional network of over 350 retail outlets. (1996, October). Singapore investment news. Singapore: Economic Development Board, p. 4. (Call no.: RSING q332.673095957 SIN)
15. Royal Sporting House to expand regionally: Singapore HQ oversees regional network of over 350 retail outlets. (1996, October). Singapore investment news. Singapore: Economic Development Board, p. 4. (Call no.: RSING q332.673095957 SIN)
16. RSH Limited – History. (2012, March 21). GlobalData Company Profiles. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
17. How, C. (1991, January 12). Royal Sporting House wins important Mizuno contract. The Business Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Royal Sporting House building sports shoe factory in Bangalore. (1992, December 1). The Straits Times, p. 36; Siow, D. (1992, December 27). Niche marketing key to realise global dream. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Wong, S. (1993, November 1). Royal Sporting House goes into manufacturing. The Business Times, p. 2; Bhalla, T. S. (1994, August 4). Royal Sporting House to build sports facilities in China and India. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Khanna, V. (2004, December 9). Enterprise with an Indian flavour. The Business Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; RSH Limited – History. (2012, March 21). GlobalData Company Profiles. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
21. Yasmine Yahya. (2012, March 13). Dubai’s Al-Futtaim investing in RSH. The Straits Times, p. 14; Koh, E. (2000, September 22). Royal Sporting House poised for listing next month. The Straits Times, p. 80. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. RSH loses chief exec and director. (2007, April 23). The Straits Times, p. 41; Oh, B. P. (2009, April 20). Ownership of RSH hangs in the balance. The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. RSH. (2008, May 31). The Straits Times, p. 72. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Lui, J. (2012, October 15).Gill builds retail empires. The Straits Times, p. 6; Oh, B. P. (2009, April 20). Ownership of RSH hangs in the balance. The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Chan, F. (2010, October 15). RSH to be delisted from SGX today. The Straits Times, p. 22; RSH delists from SGX. (2010, October 15). Today, p. 63. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Yasmine Yahya. (2012, March 13). Dubai’s Al-Futtaim investing in RSH. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Royal Sporting House (RSH) Ltd in Retailing (Singapore). (2016, January 15). Euromonitor Local Company Profiles. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
28. Tando, M. (1994, July 27). Royal Sporting House scored again. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Tan, M. (2014, November 12). Celebrating 20 years of visionary leadership and entrepreneurial success. The Business Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
30. Chong, V. (2004, December 9). Lifestyle choices for a growing market. The Business Times, p. 28; Khanna, V. (2004, December 9). Enterprise with an Indian flavour. The Business Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Organisations>>Companies
Business, finance and industry>>Business organization>>Business enterprises
Business enterprises
Corporations--Singapore
Sporting goods--Singapore
Sports, recreation and travel>>Sports