MPH Bookstores is closing its last two Singapore shops – here’s a look back at the store in its heyday at Stamford Road

MPH at Raffles City will close for good on July 28.
The Straits Times

Bookstore lovers were hit with some more bad news on Friday (July 12) morning when it was reported that the retail shops of MPH Bookstores could soon be no more.

In a report, The New Paper (TNP) said that the brand would be closing its Raffles City and Parkway Parade outlets on July 28 and September 1 respectively.

According to the report, MPH is looking to relocate both outlets to just one store, but no potential locations have been named as of press time.

MPH reportedly told TNP that the high rental costs for both existing outlets were unsustainable, and added that it was facing intense competition from online players.

As a result, it has plans to restructure and streamline its resources for new business plans, TNP reported.

The news comes just one month after local bookstore chain Popular closed its Thomson Plaza outlet after 31 years. Japan’s Books Kinokuniya also shut its Liang Court outlet on April 21 after 36 years in business. Another former icon, Borders at Wheelock Place, closed in 2011.

In its heyday, MPH was well-loved by many Singaporeans young and old. Its former Stamford Road flagship, which was once an outing destination for many Singaporeans, closed in 2003, after nearly 100 years of business. The 37,000 sq ft store had been experiencing declining sales, The Straits Times said.

The MPH Building was one of Singapore’s most well-known landmarks.
Jones Lang LaSelle

The red and white brick MPH Building is now called the Vanguard Building, and is currently used by Singapore Management University (SMU).

The former MPH building on Stamford Road was leased by SMU.

MPH Building was built in 1908 as Methodist Publishing House, the printing press of the Methodist Mission in Singapore, The Straits Times said in a report in 2010.

MPH Building was built in 1908.
The Straits Times

According to MPH’s website, MPH Bookstores’ roots can be traced all the way back to 1815 when a missionary, William Milne, started a mission press in Malacca. The press moved to Singapore in 1890.

Families used to go on outings to MPH’s Stamford Road store, which spanned 37,000 sq ft.
The Straits Times

The brand has gone through a series of name changes and ownership, but retained its MPH branding throughout the years.

MPH Bookstore in the late 1990s/early 2000s.
The Straits Times

Today, MPH Group (M) Sdn Bhd owns MPH Bookstores in both Singapore and Malaysia.

Many Singaporeans will remember going up and down these escalators on their hunt for their favourite authors’ works.
The Straits Times

In a report in April, The Straits Times quoted MPH Bookstores area manager Ismail Osman as saying that online retailers had taken away customers and suppressed book prices.

“Most of these online retailers give between 15 and 25 per cent discounts. Another unfair advantage is they don’t have to charge GST,” he was quoted as saying.

He also revealed that sales at MPH had declined by 40 per cent over the last 10 years.