Publicly-listed group Lifebrandz said today that it would cease to operate its Clarke Quay outlets: gourmet hot dog eatery Hopdog, Mulligan's Irish Pub, live music venue Aquanova and nightclubs Fenix Room and Playhouse, with immediate effect.
The group's chief executive officer, Mr Chng Weng Wah, issued a statement on the Singapore Exchange in response to a Straits Times report on Thursday that said the Manpower Ministry was investigating salary claims lodged by more than 70 staff working at Lifebrandz' outlets.
Mr Chng, who was speaking on behalf of the board, said it was ceasing its F&B operations "as the venues are deemed not sustainable or commercially viable".
He said: "Having considered the intense competition that the subsidiaries have been facing and continues to face, the trend of diminishing crowd spending and the impact of the restriction on liquor licensing hours, the Board has determined that the operations of the affected venues is presently not sustainable or commercially viable, and that the named subsidiaries cannot continue as a going concern."
He added that the company "will be working with employees of the affected venues to resolve the wage issue amicably".
Lifebrandz called for a trading halt on Thursday morning, following the group's release of its second-quarter earnings report on Wednesday evening. No mention was made of the wage dispute in the report.
In the statement today, he said the wage dispute was not disclosed to the board by the management of the relevant subsidiaries.
"Accordingly, the company has not been able to include such information in the results announcement," he said.
Employees that The Straits Times spoke to had claimed that they had not been paid since Feb 7. When ST visited Clarke Quay on Wednesday night, the outlets were closed.
The employees said they were hired by Cannery Leisure, Brandz+, Tribeca Leisure and Lux Leisure - companies owned by LifeBrandz.
Lifebrandz said the management of these subsidiaries has met with the ministry to address the complaints lodged by the affected employees, but there has not been an official outcome from that meeting.
The group's Mulligan's Irish Pub branch located in Pattaya, which is owned and operated by Lifebrandz' wholly-owned subsidiary, Mulligan's Co. Ltd, will continue to operate.