Famous hotpot chain founder buys GCB

Famous hotpot chain founder buys GCB

SINGAPORE - The founder of a popular Sichuan-style hotpot (steamboat) chain that originated in China and which is well-known for its dedicated customer service - is understood to have bought a Good Class Bungalow at Gallop Road.

Zhang Yong, a Singapore citizen, is paying S$27 million for the bungalow, which was rebuilt and completed in 2012. The price works out to S$1,700 psf based on the property's freehold land area of 15,884.29 sq ft.

Currently leased till around the middle of next year at a monthly rent of slightly over S$30,000, the property is being sold by a couple who rebuilt the house that currently stands on the site. Dubbed The Winged House, it was designed by K2LD Architects in the shape of two wings. The property spans two levels and a basement, with a total of five bedrooms in addition to a pool, terrace and garden.

Located at a cul-de-sac, it is a stone's throw from the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Mr Zhang is the founder of the Sichuan HaiDiLao Catering Co, which he set up in 1994. It has about 130 restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Nanjing and other Chinese cities as well as three outlets in Singapore - at Clarke Quay, 313 @ Somerset and IMM Building.

Its other overseas operations include Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and the US. The chain is famous for its emphasis on customer satisfaction. The services extended to customers include free shoe-shining and manicure while they wait for tables, and song-and-dance performances by staff. Some outlets also have a kids' play area with cots for babies.

The waiting time at its Singapore outlets can be up to three hours; the restaurants do not accept bookings except during certain off-peak periods. Mr Zhang, who is in his mid-40s, has penned a book about the business philosophy behind HaiDiLao.

Mr Zhang's purchase of the Gallop Road GCB here is believed to have been brokered by Newsman Realty.

Realstar Premier Group managing director William Wong described the S$1,700 psf tag for the Gallop Road bungalow as a "fair price given that the house was built three, four years ago and has a majestic design".

An older house in the locale, if it were built about 15 years ago, would command around S$1,500-1,600 psf, he added.

Elsewhere, a GCB in Tanglin Hill also changed hands recently for S$27.5 million or S$1,551 psf on land area. This is similar to the S$1,539 psf that a nearby property fetched last September. The existing houses on both sites are pretty old and are expected to be redeveloped.

Over the past six months or so, said Mr Wong, GCB transactions have been mostly below S$25 million for a "standard-sized" GCB of about 15,000 sq ft land area.

On psf of land basis, he estimates that prices have generally softened about 15 per cent in the past two years - on the back of the property cooling measures including the additional buyer's stamp duty and the total debt servicing ratio framework, he added.


This article was first published on March 31, 2016.
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