On 11 April 2021, local retail chain Naiise which was already knee deep in debt with years of significant payments owed to various vendors finally went belly up and closed its remaining physical store at Jewel Changi Airport. Days later its founder, Mr Dennis Tay, announced he would be filing for personal bankruptcy.
“As a business owner, the blame for Naiise’s demise is mine alone,” he wrote. “I’m sorry to the employees I let go. To those who are owed money, I am sorry I failed you all, and for all the inconvenience and distress this has caused. Apologies also to our marketplace sellers for shuttering operations so abruptly.”
A remorseful and sincere businessman who fell on hard times, or a skilled writer whose actions don’t match his words?
We shall see.
A search on ACRA reveals Naiise has not filed annual tax returns since financial year 2016 - this despite staggering revenues reported (up to $10m per year according to Dennis Tay’s personal Linkedin page), and it being the beneficiary of various government grants (exact amounts dished out unknown).
2013: Naiise earned $30,000. (Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/home-design/who-says-singapore-designs-dont-sell)
2015: Naiise earned more than $1 million and spawned five brick-and-mortar outlets, including a 6,500 sq ft flagship store at Central mall in Clarke Quay. (Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/home-design/who-says-singapore-designs-dont-sell)
2017: Naiise earned $4-5m in revenue, with 70 per cent of sales from brick-and-mortar stores, and overseas orders contributing about 5 to 10 per cent (Source: https://www.thepeakmagazine.com.sg/lifestyle/3-homegrown-e-commerce-brands-reveal-theyre-still-growing/)
2018-2020: Naiise earned $10m in revenue. (Source: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dennis-tay-a2297740/)
“The highest he would commit for rental will be around S$4 to S$5 per sq ft for a 4,000 sq ft space” (Source: https://www.thepeakmagazine.com.sg/lifestyle/3-homegrown-e-commerce-brands-reveal-theyre-still-growing/)
“Monthly operating costs that include rental and staff expenses amount to about S$200,000.” (Source: https://www.thepeakmagazine.com.sg/lifestyle/3-homegrown-e-commerce-brands-reveal-theyre-still-growing/)
UK entity in balance sheet insolvency since inception
Amounts due to creditors were £201,397 in 2017, and £244,920 in 2018.
Ex-employee account of bad finances
Naiise has delayed and evaded payments to vendors since 2014.
Naiise operates on a CONSIGNMENT basis, where it stockpiles goods committed by vendors at zero cost. When these are sold, vendors are entitled to 55-65% of the total proceeds, while Naiise takes the remaining 35-45%.
For example, when Naiise receives $100 for a sale that has gone through, according to contractually agreed upon terms the vendor shall be recompensed $60 within 60 days.
However, Naiise has been delaying and evading payment for consignment goods already sold (!!) since 2014, long before COVID-19 erupted, all while expanding its presence to 8 stores, including one each in Malaysia and the UK, at the same time also funding both his and his wife’s own extravagant lifestyles.
Naiise ignored emails, phone calls, and when pressed for payment, made empty promises to pay time and time again. Occasionally, a handful of lucky vendors who got so angry that they posted publicly on Facebook or spoke to the media managed to claw back monies owed. But only then. Even when vendors filed claims against Naiise at the Small Claims Tribunal and was ordered to pay up by the court, Naiise simply ignored these orders altogether, letting them lapse thereafter.
Vendors from Malaysia and UK owed payments by Naiise
Naiise failed to pay employee salaries and CPF contributions on time; some instances of non-payment arose as well.
Fined by MOM in Apr 2020 for late payment of CPF contributions for employees. (Source: https://www.mom.gov.sg/-/media/mom/documents/employment-practices/list-of-employers-convicted-under-cpf-act.pdf)
Glassdoor Employee Reviews
Disgruntled employees leaving terrible reviews on Glassdoor since 2016. (Source: https://www.glassdoor.sg/Reviews/Naiise-com-Reviews-E1082652.htm)
Comments by former employees shared on social media
How did Naiise founders fund their lavish lifestyles?
Dennis Tay, and co-founder/wife/ex employee Amanda Eng, have been indulging in the finer things in life from 2015 to 2020. Pray tell, how did directors of a business which couldn't pay its vendors/employees afford such personal extravagances?