In a candid 2005 interview with The Straits Times, former chief executive John Cheston, who came on board in January that year, said customers saw the department store as being "c**p, old-fashioned, for aunties and uncles".
It was then derisively dubbed the "Mustafa of Orchard Road" for its frequent warehouse sales.
He scaled down the sales and spent $7 million revamping the Centrepoint outlet.
His efforts paid off. When Mr Cheston joined, the group's net profit in the second half of 2004 was $14.4 million. Three years later, it posted earnings of $22.2 million in the second half of 2007, shortly before it was delisted in June 2008.
With the new Orchard store, Robinsons is ready for a fresh chapter.
Gone are the cramped beauty counters, racks of clothes packed in closed quarters and boring mannequins. Instead, the store is brighter, roomier and more edgy.
Home-grown interior design firm designphase dba, which helmed the project, opted for a soft palette of woody hues, with pops of bright yellow and red.
The flooring is different on every level, from marble to timber to geometric tiles, while creative props such as cabinets, industrial lights and moosehead fixtures add a quirky touch.
designphase dba's design director Joris Angevaare says: "We didn't approach it as a typical department store but as a large lifestyle boutique. All the departments that Robinsons had previously are still here, but they are more interconnected."