Stallholders cheer rent discount at social enterprise hawker centres, could save about $2,400 a year

Many hawkers at Yishun Park social enterprise hawker centre said the scheme has come at a good time and would relieve their financial burden.
Many hawkers at Yishun Park social enterprise hawker centre said the scheme has come at a good time and would relieve their financial burden.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Hawkers at the Yishun Park social enterprise hawker centre (SEHC) say they are likely to save around $2,400 a year because of the 10 per cent discount in rent announced yesterday.

The discount will take effect on Sept 1 under the National Environment Agency's (NEA) Staggered Rent Scheme.

Many hawkers at Yishun Park SEHC said the scheme has come at a good time and would relieve their financial burden.

Mr Kenny Wong, a 30-year-old hawker at the SEHC, described the discount as a bonus.

"I have been able to manage my costs so far, and customer flow has been all right for a residential area outside of the CBD and town," said Mr Wong, who has been running a noodle shop for eight months.

"Of course, this discount on stall rentals is a benefit and will be a plus point in some way or another."

He added that he depended on NEA and the management to implement positive changes in the SEHC from time to time.

"I will rely on them for that because we know only how to make food, and I don't know anything about management," he said.

 
 
 

Mr Michael Quinn, a 42-year-old native of Ireland, who has also set up shop at Yishun Park SEHC, said the subsidies and lower rents "really help".

The lower rents are in addition to subsidies for centralised dish-washing services that were announced in January this year.

"Unlike restaurants where you can buy premium ingredients, here we try to find the middle ground, where we can sell people decent food at reasonable prices," said Mr Quinn, a former Marche Movenpick chef.

"To start a business, even a small one, costs a lot of money. I think we will start small, with a manageable rental, and see if we can expand further."

Timbre Group chief executive and managing director Edward Chia told The Straits Times that lower costs could help hawkers at Timbre+Hawkers run their businesses better.

"Sometimes, hawkers live from hand to mouth. If hawkers have more stability, they can spend more time thinking about how to perfect their dishes and manage their business, so any help with costs would go a long way," Mr Chia said. "These increased measures to help hawkers will help to stabilise the number of hawkers here, and this will create a good base to build on."

The lower rentals will also be applied to 13 new SEHCs which will be ready by 2027. Stallholders at these centres will save 20 per cent on their rentals in the first year of operations and 10 per cent in the subsequent year.

Generally, two years would be enough for hawker centres to build a regular clientele, NEA officials said yesterday.

Cheryl Teh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2019, with the headline 'Hawkers cheer rent discount, could save about $2,400 a year'. Print Edition | Subscribe