Saturday, July 17, 2010

More HDB shops to get upgrading help

HDB to provide $6m for shops to spruce up, promote themselves

ABOUT 3,400 Housing Board shops in 35 neighbourhoods or town centres will get a chance to spruce up or promote themselves - and perhaps stave off competition from swanky new heartland malls.

The shops will be included in the third phase of the Housing Board's Revitalisation of Shops scheme.

The 35 places included in the latest phase range from Chai Chee Neighbourhood Centre to Toa Payoh Lorong 7 Neighbourhood Centre.

Under this phase, the HDB will provide about $6 million that can be used to upgrade common areas where the shops are located or to carry out promotional activities, or both.

The co-funding scheme was started in 2007. In the first two phases, the HDB spent $17 million, benefiting more than 3,000 shops in 34 areas.

There are 14,600 HDB shops islandwide.

Stores that are in areas not yet included in the scheme will also get a boost: The HDB will give those that want to upgrade a half-month rent-free period, subject to some conditions. This means the stores can use the money they save on rent to add extra fittings and other equipment to make themselves more attractive.

The latest moves were announced by Senior Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu at an HDB retail seminar held at the HDB Hub auditorium in Toa Payoh yesterday.

Speaking in Mandarin to 400 representatives from HDB shops, she noted that a recent survey had shown more positive business sentiment and greater awareness of government assistance schemes.

But, she said, shops have a role to play too, and should keep up with customer demands and improve business management to succeed.

'You should continually improve your knowledge of retail practices and open your minds to new ways to create value and boost productivity.'

HDB shops have been in the spotlight recently, with many complaining of falling business in the face of competition from new heartland malls, as well as an 'invasion' of big retail chains into neighbourhoods.

Yesterday, Mr Yeo Hiang Meng, the president of the Federation of Merchants' Associations Singapore, which represents about 30 per cent of HDB shops islandwide through member associations, said it has received feedback that shops on the revitalisation scheme have seen business improve by 10 per cent to 30 per cent.

Mr Yeo, who runs a goldsmith and jewellery shop in Toa Payoh Central, said heartland shops had a distinctive character and could even be a way of attracting tourists. He said: 'Shopping in the heartland is a unique feature of Singapore.'

Yesterday, the HDB also launched a mobile version of its where2shop@HDB website - which was started last year for people to get quick information about HDB shops and their products - for easier navigation on mobile phones. It can be accessed at

Source: Straits Times, 17 Jul 2010

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