'Landlords should wake up'

'Landlords should wake up'
Chairman of the management Raymond Chua and the mall's managing agent Chan Kok Hong appealing for the authorities to take a stronger stand against errant retailers.

The most notorious shop owner in Singapore, Mr Jover Chew, might get kicked out of Sim Lim Square soon.

His landlord is thinking of terminating his contract and has been trying to reach him, revealed the management of Sim Lim Square at a press conference in the mall yesterday.

Mr Chew had rented the shop through an agent and the landlord was apparently unaware of his unscrupulous business tactics until recent media reports, said Sim Lim Square management's chairman Raymond Chua.

Mr Chew's Mobile Air and other errant retailers at Sim Lim Square have been in the spotlight in the past week following a barrage of bad press over unfair and bullying sales tactics.

But these errant retailers are "black sheep" who make up less than 2 per cent of the nearly 500 retailers of the mall, said the management.

At the same time, the management council's members, who either own shops or are landlords there, appealed to government agencies for help to tackle these errant retailers.

In particular, Sim Lim Square management's vice-chairman, Mr Kwek Theng Swee, asked if the Government could look into making these unfair practices criminal so that the customers can seek recourse.

"We understand that this requires changing the law, and we have spoken to Case and various government agencies," said Mr Kwek.

He said that although Mobile Air's actions were "unforgivable," the management does not have the "right" to do anything to these errant retailers.

He explained that Sim Lim Square is a multi-strata titled building, with 450 shops, 500 retailers and multiple owners.

About half of the owners also operate their own shops, while the others rent out their space.

And it is up to individual landlords to decide who their tenants are.

Mr Kwek said that they also hope to tweak the management law, such that a change in tenant would require permission from the management.

He said: "These recent cases are hurting the reputation of the place. If human traffic decreases, then rents fall.

"So the landlords should wake up and not just be happy to collect rent. They should also take part in the management of the place and take notice of their tenants."

He added that the management's responsibility mainly involves maintenance, repair and cleaning, but they have "gone beyond their scope" to promote the place.

For instance, they have spent millions on building a covered walkway and upgrading the mall's infrastructure.

The management is also hoping to change the "mindset" of these errant retailers by "encouraging" them to join their STARetailers initiative.

Shops have to be complaint-free for nine months before they can apply for and be accepted in this initiative. If successful, they will be given a sticker on the floor of their shop front and a poster to display in the shop. About 300 retailers at Sim Lim Square are part of this scheme.

Mr Kwek said: "We want to remind these errant retailers that they will not have an easy time. Everywhere they go, they get scolded... You can't earn much from these tactics...

"Why conduct business in such a way and hurt everyone, including yourself?

Sim Lim Square management say landlords must take stand against errant tenants, but insist they can't do anything If human traffic decreases, then rents will fall.

So the landlords should wake up and not just be happy to collect rent.

- Sim Lim Square management's vice-chairman Kwek Theng Swee

linheng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 08, 2014.
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