Top Stories

Spring to be 'administering agency' against errant retailers

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has proposed two key amendments to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA) to ensure greater protection for consumers and strengthen measures against errant retailers that persist in unfair trading practices.  One of the proposed amendments is to appoint Spring Singapore as an administering agency with investigation and enforcement powers to gather evidence, file timely injunction applications and ensure that errant retailers comply with the injunction orders.

Singapore Economy

In S'pore's automation drive, execution is key

The Singapore government's automation push is, in broad terms, a good thing; but how it is executed will be crucial, if it is to amount to more than just a waste of public funds.  After all, a great deal of money is at stake. In Budget 2016, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat revealed that over the next three years, the government will provide more than S$400 million in support for the Automation Support Package, and over S$450 million for the National Robotics Programme.

Q1 profits disappoint, outlook dim: analysts

Singapore-listed companies have turned in a largely disappointing set of first-quarter earnings so far with the oil and gas sector a particularly weak spot, and the outlook remains lacklustre, analysts said.  As at 5pm Friday, 277 Singapore-listed companies with December year-ends had reported their first-quarter results, according to data compiled by The Business Times. Profitable companies outnumbered lossmakers 198 to 79, or about five in the black for every two in the red.

Singapore Real Estate

How S'pore, Vienna and Berlin provide affordable housing

One of the foremost challenges facing humanity is affordable housing, especially for the urban poor.  The lack of liveable and affordable accommodation is fast becoming a front-line development issue, affecting diverse cities across the globe, from Lagos and Dhaka to New York and Tokyo.  For the urban poor in developing countries, living in slums or informal settlements has become the norm, with an estimated one billion people living in slums. With this number only set to grow, the lack of affordable housing has become a leading cause of concern.

Serangoon Road shophouse up for sale via auction

A conserved shophouse at Serangoon Road has been put up for sale at an indicative price of $6 million.  The unit at 486 Serangoon Road, off Race Course Road and Beatty Road, is being sold through an auction on May 25 at The Amara Hotel.  The existing development consists of a two-storey shophouse and an attic. It is accessible via an external staircase to the upper floor.  The second floor has been permanently converted for residential use.  The freehold property has a total land area of about 2,096 sq ft and a gross floor area of about 4,000 sq ft.

Reits taking steps to cut risk

Singapore's real estate investment trusts (Reits) are being more proactive in reducing risks amid concerns such as the potential oversupply in the local market.  Ms Lynette Leong, chief executive of CapitaLand Commercial Trust, noted there had been "a lot of construction going on, especially in the Marina Bay area", which could add office space supply but added the firm had been preparing for it.  "To reduce leasing risk, we have been doing forward renewals as much as possible," she said.  As a result of renewing leases before they are due to expire, the number of tenants with leases expiring this year is lower than typical years.

More take up HDB's Lease Buyback Scheme after enhancements

Some 1,506 households are currently under the Housing Board's (HDB) Lease Buyback Scheme, with 541 of them taking it up in the past year.  The scheme, introduced in March 2009, allows elderly flat owners to sell part of their lease back to the HDB for retirement income.  It has been updated several times, including in April last year, when it was extended to include four-room flats. This change allowed the scheme to cover three-quarters of elderly HDB households, compared to 35 per cent previously.

Watsons aims for bigger slice of healthcare pie

Consumers may know Watsons for its beauty halls, but chief operating officer Dominic Wong wants the pharmacy giant to be known for its health offerings as well.  At the launch of the company's allergy care services recently, Mr Wong told The Straits Times that while it already holds pole position for beauty retailing among consumers, it is also aiming for the crown in health offerings - a move that will see it come head to head with health retailer Guardian.  While Guardian currently has 131 stores and 70 pharmacies, Watsons has 106 stores and 38 pharmacies. But Mr Wong is not deterred. He said that although Watsons has fewer stores, third-party research shows that Watsons leads in health sales per store.

Brands take up more shop space – online

When Elaine Tan, 28, was looking for a smartphone for her grandmother, she skipped the lines at telco and retail shops, and went straight to online retailer Qoo10, to pick up an older model of the Samsung device.  One month later, the assistant marketing manager eschewed the same retail stores, and picked up a Samsung tablet from e-commerce store, Lazada, using the app, for her grandfather.  And while she chose the lowest-priced item from Qoo10 earlier on, she bought the tablet from the Samsung store on Lazada, to ensure that she got a local warranty.

Car sales expected to cushion retail sales till year-end

Retail sales are still moribund following the latest March data, so hopes are increasingly being pinned on car buyers propping up figures for the rest of the year.  Car sales continued to inflate the overall retail sales numbers, data released by the Department of Statistics on Friday showed, even as headline figures continued to soften.  On a year-on-year basis, headline retail sales jumped 5.1 per cent.

Companies' Brief

Perennial's Q1 profit buoyed by fair value gain

Buoyed by fair value gain, Perennial Real Estate Holdings' net profit jumped in the first quarter ended March 31 to S$8.47 million, compared to S$3.42 million a year ago.  This fair value gain was derived from a revaluation of Chengdu East High Speed Railway (HSR) Integrated Development Plot D2, which was reclassified to investment property following the change of use from strata sales to long-term holding for lease.

City Developments Limited

Despite hotel operations showing some weakness in financial year 2015, impacted mainly by lower revenue per available room at its Asian hotels, they were still the largest revenue contributor with 54 per cent among all divisions, which implies a substantial proportion of stable income.  CDL expects to recognise approximately $400 million of property sales in financial year 2016 as property projects are completed.

Sim Lian Group

Sim Lian Group posted a net profit of $16.4 million for the third quarter, down 82 per cent from a year earlier, as the group's property development arm contributed only $3.9 million in revenue, a drop of 99 per cent.  Total turnover in the three months to March 31 was $163.3 million, a fall of 74 per cent from a year ago, as a 220 per cent rise in construction revenues to $146 million failed to offset the plunge in property development takings.

Sinarmas Land

Sinarmas Land recorded a net profit of $15.7 million in the first quarter, down 80.3 per cent from a year earlier.  Revenue in the three months to March 31 dived 37 per cent to $179.9 million, due mainly to lower sales of land for commercial and industrial purposes in Indonesia and fewer residential units handed over to buyers in BSD City. Earnings per share was 0.37 cent, down from 2.62 cents a year ago, while net asset value per share was 41 cents as at March 31 this year, the same as at Dec 31 last year.

Eu Yan Sang's Q3 profit hit by weaker revenue, higher expenses

Eu Yan Sang International reported a slump in net profit to S$286,000 for the third quarter ended March 31 from S$5.45 million, as it suffered a decline in operating revenue and incurred foreign exchange losses and expenses related to cessation of F&B operations in China.  Revenue during the quarter slipped 6 per cent to S$103.87 million, mainly due to a decrease in revenue generated from the Malaysian market as well as the weakening of the Malaysian ringgit.

Genting Singapore Q1 gain battered by bad debt, softer gaming revenue

Weaker gaming revenue from its Singapore integrated resort (IR) and a drop in other operating income battered Genting Singapore's first-quarter earnings.  The casino operator's previous easy-credit policy has also continued to haunt it as the group's impairments on trade receivables ballooned 21 per cent year on year to around S$92 million in the quarter.

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