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Traditional businesses facing tough times

High rents, labour crunch are major woes; tech not the solution for many

Published on Apr 21, 2014 8:43 AM
Mr Gavan Sing of Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery, whose major selling point is homemade kueh, says revenue has stagnated in the past few years because of rising costs. He has tapped a government scheme to buy a machine to cut ingredients but says automation has its limits. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Times change at lightning speed in the business world, but some small traditional operations are still hanging on despite daunting economic challenges.

A labour shortage, evolving consumer trends and pricier rents are making life increasingly hard for such outfits.

Take Mr Alan Wong, who worries about the future of his antique and vintage goods trading and restoration shop, Yasashii Trading, should any of his workers retire. "We face a lack of manpower because many Singaporeans do not have the skills needed to do restoration work," he said.

The shop in Bukit Merah has three employees, all in their 60s and 70s. "Without them, I might have to stop the restoration part of my business and focus solely on trading antiques in the long term," added Mr Wong, 49.

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