Thought leaders, industry experts, and changemakers from Singapore and beyond come together in this edition of Portfolio Forecast to answer the burning question: As we navigate economic uncertainty, inflation, supply chain disruptions, and geopolitical issues, what, then, is the silver lining for 2023?
FRANKLIN TANG, Founder and CEO, Habitap
"Disruptions to the supply chain of electronic components used in our solution meant we could not deliver our projects. Most people thought that the pandemic brought about poor business; on the contrary, there was business, but ones that could not be delivered or finished. The most significant macroeconomic impact for businesses is cost increase, which is beyond our control. Therefore, there is a need to focus on both internal productivity and providing cost-efficient solutions to our customers.
The growing adoption rate of smart technology among homes and businesses keeps me optimistic. This is mainly due to the growing emphasis on convenience and performance, showing that more people realize the benefits of technology and how it can improve our lives and productivity. Habitap ONE is the first-ever subscription-based access management solution that offers more for less. The take-up rate has been encouraging because it is a solution engineered ground up to be cost-effective. Our customers know it is a sustainable solution not because we are subsidising it but because we designed it to use less hardware, achieving as much as 50 per cent cost savings."
CURVE KHONG, CEO, PokeSpace
"The acceleration of EV adoption has highlighted the inefficiencies of the traditional car park business model. From fuelling and charging, punctuality systems, to wrongly priced parking models, companies have not adapted to the new wave of users who consume services via their mobile phone.
Despite the current uncertainty around the global economy, we think it will not impede the industry, which is serving the future needs of drivers. The transition towards a less carbon generating economy is already in motion for mankind. Through the collective consciousness from the public, governments, and conglomerates, the seed of change has already been sown. Some observers say that EVs will one day be as convenient to use as mobile phones, which will provide all sort of physical and digital convenience for the driver in future. Pokespace is optimistic that opportunities are abundant with the current trajectory of human needs."
DORA CHNG, General Manager (Residential), GuocoLand
"One challenge the real estate industry is facing today is the rising cost of construction. We do our best to mitigate the impact through effective cost controls and prudent spending. We also applied new technologies to improve our productivity in marketing and sales of residential developments.
There is much global economic uncertainty today, exacerbated by geopolitical tension. We are fortunate that Singapore has managed the situation well so far, and is well placed to weather other impending challenges. Singapore’s real estate industry has a solid foundation and is known around the world to be safe and stable. This has helped ensure that the value of Singapore’s properties can grow at a sustainable rate. But this stability is not by chance. Close partnership and common understanding between the authorities, developers, agents, and buyers contribute to a more robust ecosystem. It also allows for a better appreciation of people’s needs and wants, the changing demographics, and how different people live, work, and play."
BRIAN STAMPE, COO, Commonwealth Concepts Pte Ltd
"With manpower crunch, we tapped on technology to redesign workflow for greater efficiency and alleviate manpower-heavy tasks. We also focused on continuing to retain staff and building their loyalty by creating a positive work environment and motivating them to maintain or even exceed service levels despite manpower shortages.
Although the past two years have been demanding, the pandemic was a catalyst for us to become more agile in adapting to new situations especially in the looming face of recession. We have learnt to better embrace obstacles and seek out and identify new avenues of engaging our customers. This has given us insights to the path Commonwealth Concepts will take in the future as the company expands in 2023. The crisis has also shown that our teams will rise to any occasion, and in turn, have developed stronger ties after riding out the hard times together."
GUILLAUME PICHOIR, CEO, Da Paolo Group
"Inflation was the biggest hurdle in 2022. In a year of recovery after two years of pandemic induced chaos, the industry had to grapple spiralling food, energy, and shipping costs. Redoubling efforts on efficiency, working closely with partners, and carefully calibrating price revisions were top focus this year.
Although the global situation seems very serious, we feel that Singapore is more resilient than it has ever been. Tight supplies and rising costs will be lingering issues plaguing our industry, but the profile of Singapore as a safe global destination for wealth, talent, events, and visitors will go on making the local F&B landscape increasingly attractive. Cost-efficient concepts delivering consistent experiences will also continue thriving."
FANNIE LIM, Executive Director, Daughters of Tomorrow Limited
"As the world resumes to normalcy in an endemic phase, many families that were already struggling pre-pandemic are still struggling and for some, even more so today. Cost of living and inflation has doubled while wages do not grow in the same trajectory, making it even more challenging. There’s a greater need to co-create and strengthen the ecosystem of support for the lower-income community; however its common expectations are for beneficiaries to bounce back to a net positive state even though they were in an existing deficit position.
I’m very heartened and blessed to have a front row seat to witness the resilience of the women in our midst. The complexities one needs to navigate through life and seeing how they show up still, and for many, the desire to give back and contribute meaningfully to uplift others, despite their own difficulties."
JOSEPH ONG, Managing Director, 1-Group
"There is an ongoing challenge of labor shortage in the industry. In response to this, we had to creatively deploy our manpower and yet still ensure that we have the necessary capabilities to execute our strategy and plans without compromising on delivering memorable dining experiences.
Despite the various challenges facing the Lifestyle F&B industry, I am hopeful knowing that there are significantly more digital solutions around to help our management and staff, as well as more and more technologies available to help us communicate better and understand our customers more thoroughly. This helps us run the business more professionally and effectively. I believe this discipline that we have put in to analyze our customers will help us as our business grows and expands internationally."
RICHARD HEMMING, Head of Wine, Asia, 67 Pall Mall Singapore
"With every vintage, wine producers face increasingly extreme weather, threatening long- term sustainable production. Fires, floods, and frosts are decimating some regions. At 67 Pall Mall we offer 5,000 wines on our list, bought primarily through local importers, which allows us to support the industry and promote wine’s infinite diversity.
The ongoing Covid policy and political difficulties in Hong Kong and China have inadvertently benefitted the wine scene in Singapore. Despite our comparatively high rates of alcohol duty, Singapore is well set to be become a primary hub for wine in Southeast Asia.
Already, two major trade fairs (ProWine and VinExpo) have relocated here, joining several other important globally wine operations such as The Wine Advocate, FICOFI – and of course, 67 Pall Mall Singapore. Singapore’s stable government, ease of doing business, strategic location, and cosmopolitan population are highly attractive prospects for the wine industry – especially in such turbulent times. Wine is proven to be recession-proof: An affordable everyday pleasure that brings people together, with the best bottles offering a profound shared experience. For this reason, despite all headwinds, its global popularity will endure – and Singapore is perfectly positioned to take full advantage."
Phua Boon Huat
PHUA BOON HUAT, President, Singapore Furniture Industries Council
"Disruptions in global supply chains, unprecedented freight rates, rising materials, and labor costs have presented considerable challenges for many companies. We have responded with strategies built from our three key pillars – market agility and resiliency, digital and business innovation, as well as transitioning to sustainable businesses.
To remain competitive in an increasingly costly environment, we have been working with fellow industry members to adopt more green initiatives and business practices. I am glad to say that the response from the furniture sector has been positive. Within Singapore, our firms have made great strides in embracing eco-friendly and energy-efficient alternatives for a more sustainable future. At the ASEAN regional level, we continue to lead the community towards more ethical approaches to the design, manufacture, and sale of furniture."
Tan Chong Hui
TAN CHONG HUI, CEO and Co-Founder, JAH Cultura
Agriculture and Technology
"Faced with food security issues, the Singapore Government is encouraging companies to grow the local agri-tech sector. Globally, the agricultural sector is worth USD$12,152.6 billion (S$16611.81 billion). However, in Singapore, the sector is relatively small. Our major hurdle was to convince consumers of the importance of having local farms that can provide fresh, tasty produce, with a minimal carbon footprint.
The local agri-tech industry has been progressing well as it continues to innovate towards the changing consumer demands for sustainable alternatives. An increasing number of Singapore consumers are more conscious about their sources and management of food, and we have been creating new technologies that make sustainability a reality. Our Unitatem CULTURA has already created a sustainable alternative with increased output, and we are continuing to improve our technologies to collaborate with other farms in enhancing local produce."
Read Portfolio Forecast 2023 Part 2 here