Wednesday, March 24, 2010

30% hike in rent at 5 wet markets

STALLHOLDERS at the five wet markets taken over by Sheng Siong last year will have to pay 30 per cent more in rent from next month.

The stallholders at the five markets – in Serangoon, Bukit Batok, Fajar Road and two in Choa Chu Kang – were informed of the increase by the supermarket chain earlier this month.

Stallholders The Straits Time spoke to said they were handed one-year contracts to sign. Currently, they pay about $1,500 to $3,000 in rent and are on a two-year contract.

Sheng Siong’s managing director Lim Hock Chee said the chain had no choice but to increase rental rates, as it had to pay bank interest fees, property tax and maintenance fees after buying the five wet markets for about $25 million.

Many stallholders feel that the increase is too high, with some even saying that they will give up their businesses. Mr Quek Tian Poh, who sells religious goods at the wet market in Serangoon, said he is loath to pass the increased costs down to his customers as they may stay away.

A group of tenants were anxious enough to approach their MP, Mr Seah Kian Peng, for help on Monday. Their request: That the chain stagger the rent increase and increase the contract duration to two years.

The news comes after Sheng Siong’s controversial purchase of the wet markets in December. The chain had wanted to convert the wet markets into air-conditioned markets, triggering public concern about the shrinking number of wet markets in Singapore.

Government leaders stepped in to say that the premises could not be turned into supermarkets, and under that condition approved the sale.

Source: Straits Times, 24 Mar 2010

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