Singapore – Former Mediacorp DJ Daniel Ong, who now runs three restaurants, has taken to Instagram to highlight the suffering of fellow entrepreneurs amid the Covid-19 pandemic and to call for rental waiver of 2 to 3 months.
On Saturday (March 28), Mr Ong posted about the plight of food and beverage establishments. He had co-founded Twelve Cupcakes with then wife Jaime Teo in 2011. The company was sold in 2017.
“I’m writing this plea as a small operator of three restaurants to landlords in Singapore,” said Mr Ong. “We need your help now. If not now, then never. Because we will cease to exist.”
He explained that it is impossible to sustain an income in the current situation where there is a 70-80 per cent decrease in customers, hence profit.
Mr Ong called for landlords, “who’ve made hundreds of millions for your organisations and shareholders” to support the very people who filled their malls and properties.
“Waive rents for 2-3 months. Give us a fighting chance,” Mr Ong pleaded. He illustrated how a landlord’s establishment would remain empty until the end of the year or when a cure is found if no support is provided for their tenants. “It’s a lose-lose situation.”
“You are protecting profit, we are just trying to survive and help our fellow Singaporeans and livelihood and jobs,” said Mr Ong.
He tagged Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress Ng Chee Meng and major landlords in his posts.
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Thank you. ? Had a small rant in stories about the situation on ground on the singapore FnB scene in SG. ?? I received hundreds of replies. ??Solidarity, words of encouragement, solutions, some with just standing shoulder to shoulder with me. With all my heart. ❤️ Thank you. Truth is, being a small business owner is so damn tough. Through all the ups and downs, the losses, the tough work. The daily challenges. The never ending meetings. And more. It never ends. But through this covid episode, my heart goes out most to my teams… they believed in me. They count on me. And I cannot help but feel like I’ve let everyone down. ? I’m writing this plea as a small operator of 3 restaurants to landlords in singapore. @capitaland @fraserspropertyretail @citydevelopments @knightfranksingaporeipm #hongleongholdings We need your help now.. If not now… then never. Coz we WILL cease to exsist. Like @willcookwilleat said…” You are a garden, and when we bloom… your garden looks good… and what is a garden without flowers?” We are dying here. Ina business of single digit profits. Having your top line decline by 70-80% only means there’s no way we can sustain this. No matter how deep your pockets. Over the years, you’ve made hundreds of millions for your organization and shareholders. It’s time to support the very people who fill your malls and properties. Waive rents for 2-3 months. Give us a fighting chance. As at right now, we are not going to make it. If you do not do anything meaningful, defaults will happen, no one will open anything in this climate, and your properties will remain empty till the end of year or till when a cure is found. It’s a lose lose situation. Or you can dip into your deep reserves to help tenants this year… The retail Industry may not recover if too many players go bust during this period and it affects your long term profitability. You are protecting profit, we are just trying to survive and help our fellow singaporeans and livelihood and Jobs. Do the right thing. Follow the example of our countries leaders and help us in our time of need. @leehsienloong @ng.chee.meng @hengsweekeat
In a follow-up post, Mr Ong asked landlords to consider their tenants as partners. “Giving us a 2,000-4,000 discount on a 25,000 rent really just delays the inevitable,” he said. “Can you be on the other side for once?,” he asked.
Being located in the Central Business District, Mr Ong and other business owners have been hit badly by the outbreak, as people work from home and food delivery is not a feasible option.
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Ran outta space…continued… In the coming days, if the government decides to have a no dine in rule for restaurants. Or a shut down of any sorts. It’s truly game over. For the whole industry. Many have asked me to consider a take away and a online alternative. Ta pau. Truth is, we are in the CBD. Half now work from home. No workers means no sales. Also it’s difficult running a take away biz in a space that costs 25k. And staff that cost 40k. Stall holders rents are much lower to make any sense. But we will try. I owe it to my team to try. The only way now is if there’s such a measure, that you waive rentals. Cash flow is severely affected. Like all businesses now… like hotels…no sales means we can’t even make ends meet. Pay staff. Or suppliers. We are asking for you to look at us as partners. Giving us a 2-4K discount on a 25k rent really just delays the inevitable. Just. Give. Us. A. Chance. When times are good… we’ve just paid rentals that have doubled or tripled over the years. It’s a give and take relationship. Can you be on the other side for once? I’m pleading. Coz past this next few weeks… we are all not going to make it. Defaults at 50% or more. It’s dire now. And we can’t wait for two weeks for an email reply for you to check with your bosses…we are going down now. Now. We are in this together. ?????? #sgunited #singapore #covid #savefnbsg #struggling #sinking #help #savejobs #save #singaporeans #staff @hengsweekeat @ng.chee.meng @leehsienloong @capitaland @knightfranksingaporeipm @businesstimessg @straits_times @fraserspropertyretail @citydevelopments
Other owners shared their experiences during the crisis, with some having to fold their businesses and retrench workers. Others were unhappy that “powerful landlords” were “removing the opportunity for entrepreneurs” to do business.
However, there was some criticism of Mr Ong’s appeal. Others pointed out that workers will lose their jobs when businesses close.
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