Not a Naiise move

Not a Naiise move

Singapore’s home-grown retailer Naiise shuttered its remaining outlet in Jewel Changi Airport last weekend, making a sad ending to a business that was a champion for locally-designed stuff.

According to reports, its founder Dennis Tay had run out of money to keep the business afloat. He is also said to have exhausted his saving, borrowed from banks and is in the process of filing for personal bankruptcy.

While his side of the story is indeed sad, one can’t help but feel for the many suppliers who are left unpaid for sales of products — sold on a consignment basis.

The sums owed are not large and are unlikely to cause any of them to fold but it is still bad business practice from Naiise.

Suppliers have been unpaid from as far back as 2016 — that’s way before the opening of the spanking new outlet, with an in-shop cafe to boot, in Jewel Changi Airport. If the company was already in some form of financial distress, why did it still choose such a fanciful location? It seems that it would rather spend on a new outlet that pay its suppliers, many of which are small businesses.

Such a move could also give vendors the impression that the company is doing well, perhaps gaining a little more goodwill and tolerance when it comes to payment terms.

However, Naiise’ untimely closure plus the personal bankruptcy filed by its founder, may result in many of them remaining unpaid.

It is a fact that COVID-19 has hit retailers such as Naiise badly. But that doesn’t negate the fact that the retailer has been delinquent in paying vendors even before the pandemic.

The whole experience is part and parcel of the risk of doing business for the affected vendors. It is a painful lesson. But hopefully, it’s one that they will learn well from and that emerge stronger and succeed.

As consumers, we can support local companies by buying their products. They may not be as cheap as those bought online but treat it as our contribution to build a sustainable local market.

Drive hunger away on World Food Day

For a food secure nation like Singapore, it’s hard to imagine that there are people who wonder when their next meal will be. In fact, one in 10 in the island-nation faces food insecurity challenges.

Armed with passion and guts, The Food Bank Singapore (FBSG) has made it its mission to eradicate food insecurity in Singapore.

From October 16 to 18, FBSG is targeting to receive 100 tonnes of food donations for 360 beneficiary organisations that feed more than 300,000 individuals.

It is rallying car owners and clubs to “Drive Hunger Away” by donating, collecting and delivering food items to FBSG on those three days.

“With many unable to work and some losing their jobs during this season, the observance of World Food Day is of extra significance this year as we raise awareness on prevalent hunger issues in Singapore and ensure that vulnerable individuals and families do not go hungry,” said Nichol Ng, Co-founder of FBSG.

Other than staples and non-perishable food items such as rice, oil and preserved food, FBSG is looking for donations of healthier food items such as canned protein, whole wheat products and bread spreads.

Members of the public can make their donations at collection points in malls and Shell petrol kiosks across the island, where cars will collect from and deliver the food items to FBSG.

Among the car clubs that are supporting this initiative are Breakfast Drive by Assure Group Insurance, Eagles Car Club, Jeep Owners Club Singapore, Outlander Passion Club (Mitsubishi), and Tridente Automobili (Maserati).

If you’d like to do your part in tackling food insecurity, contact Margarita Seah at margarita@foodbank.sg by September 30, 2020.

SafeEntry made easy

Simple and convenient visitor registration

For those in Singapore who do not have the latest version of the SingPass Mobile app, now’s a good time to do so. It will help greatly in facilitating entry into more than 40,000 malls and buildings using the SafeEntry app.

Developed by Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) during the COVID-19 period, SafeEntry has been in use for visitor registration to assist in contact tracing.

The original version required the scanning of a QR code, followed by checking in and filling in personal and contact details. This is already much faster compared to the filling in of paper forms.

An enhanced version has been rolled out that simplifies this process further. With the latest version of the SingPass Mobile app (on both Android and iOS), all it takes is to activate the app and click on SafeEntry check-in in the opening screen. A list of buildings in the proximity will appear. Select the right one and check in.

Those who have enjoyed using the Parking SG app will notice the similarity. It’s easy to use and makes checking in really convenient.

50K meals for needy in Singapore

Source: The Food Bank Singapore

In such trying times, many low-wage earners may have lost their jobs. Food and beverage (F&B) establishments are bleeding as people stay home. Charities are experiencing massive drops in volunteer numbers and donations. Against this dire backdrop, The Food Bank Singapore (FBSG) has come up with Feed the City (Take-Away Edition), a community effort to feed the underprivileged while supporting local eateries.

The idea involves getting donors to pay for meals, food and beverage (F&B) partners to provide cooked meals at special rates, and volunteers to distribute 5,000 meals to needy households island-wide.

First to suppoort this scheme are electric retailer Geneco and online caterer Grain. The initial beneficiaries are expected to be needy senior citizens who do not have a place to gather following the cessation of Senior Activity Centre activities in Singapore.

“FBSG is committed to take on the crucial role during such uncertain times to continuously provide food to vulnerable communities and remain fully operational to ensure no one gets left behind. We are issuing a rallying call to sponsors and F&B outlets to come on board Feed the City (Take-Away Edition),” said Nichol Ng, Co-founder of FBSG.

The programme is expected to last two months but FBSG is prepared to extend it till the DORSCON level returns to green.

Computex does it right

The card that means a lot to international visitors.

Throughout my career and in my voluntary work, I’ve had the opportunity to attend many events — including many mega ones — in Singapore and around the world.

Organisers often spend much effort in marketing their event so that they can draw more exhibitors and participants. That’s well and good because they are in it for the profit.

What happens after registration and turning up is another thing. Some events have let me down tremendously — from poor logistics planning to lack of interest in visitors. All they wanted was to meet their KPI of visitor numbers.

Of course, they’re not all bad. There have been events where I’ve come out smiling for the experience, whether it’s the welcoming feel, content, exhibits, or takeaways that I’ve gathered.

But there is one event where the organisation stands tall above all. It’s Computex Taipei.

I’ve had the privilege of attending this mega IT show in Taiwan since 2003 and its organisers, Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and Taipei Computer Association (TCA) certainly puts in lots of effort to draw the crowd and keep them happy.

Before the event starts, they send invitations to trade visitors and get this — offer sponsorship of accommodation to those who qualify.

International participants are provided with official letters for speedier clearance at airport immigration. Believe me, this is a major plus when you look at the queue.

Registration is made easy with counters at all the halls. The tags can also be delivered to the participants’ hotels. Wow!

Now, for the clincher. Every international participant is given a Taipei Metro card with unlimited travel on the subway from the start of the exhibition to the day after it ends. That’s a whopping value of NTD900 (about US$28.60) for five days of subway convenience. No other event that I’ve been to, including big ones in the United States, accord such a benefit to visitors.

It’s really convenient to get around in Taipei with their extensive subway network. And the key event venues at Taipei World Trade Center in the city and Nangang Exhibition Hall on the outskirts sit near a station.

On top of that, the thoughtful organisers also provided bus shuttles among the venues, as well as to many hotels.

Kudos, TAITRA and TCA! You’ve made going to Computex a joy and something that I look forward to every year.

Embark on The Rubylicious Adventure

Embark on The Rubylicious Adventure

IMG_20190411_110425_146.jpgWhat is The Rubylicious Adventure? It’s not quite Charlie and the chocolate factory but it does entail a tour, a very interesting and lip smacking one at that. The tour is to a series of food and beverage (F&B) establishments that have innovative creations based on ruby chocolate — the fourth chocolate in the world, after dark, milk and white.

Incidentally, ruby chocolate is the first chocolate to be discovered after 80 years! Its colour is a natural pink and the taste is fruity with fresh, sour notes.

IMG_20190402_141531This explains the mystery box in my previous post. It was an invitation to a sneak media preview of this specially curate experience of everything ruby. The Rubylicious Adventure is food distributor FoodXervices Inc’s way of launching the Callebaut Finest Belgian Chocolate ruby RB1 in Singapore.

Our journey took us to three outlets in the morning and another three in the afternoon.

First up was Plentyfull at Millenia Walk where Chef Ivan demonstrated how the Ruby Foie Gras Parfait on Herb Waffle is made. I never thought that chocolate can mix with savoury stuff as the concoction was ruby chocolate infused duck liver parfait on kale and chive waffle.

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Plentyfull’s Ruby Foie Gras Parfait on Herb Waffle

Next, we walked to nearby Patisserie G, which came up with two interesting dishes:  Rubyrazz is a marriage of raspberry ruby mousse and a tangy yuzu curd in a praline while Bashful Bunny, a rabbit-shaped combination of ruby and dark chocolate was created to celebrate Easter.

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Rubyrazz felt so milky rich and the yuzu curd within makes such a delightful combination.

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Bashful Bunny was still wrapped in its plastic bag so it makes a great gift for Easter.

The final stop for the morning run was Lamb Cupcakery at Marina Bay Link Mall. Here, the owner Beatrice showed us a mouth watering tray of Ruby Red Velvet — classic red velvet cupcake topped with ruby chocolate cream and sparkling raspberry.

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Priced at S$6.50, this cupcake is so chocolatey and worth every bite. Remember to have a cup of water handy to clear the throat after indulging in this.

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Lamb Cupcakery’s Ruby Red Velvet cupcake.

The afternoon tour took us a little further with the first stop at Tanuki Raw at kapok along Middle Road. Rubykawa is crispy chicken skin tempura layered with seaweed and coated with ruby chocolate and raspberry.

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At first glance, it looked like pink bak kwa. But, on closer examination, the ruby chocolate coating was obvious. Sprinkle it with sea salt and it becomes a tasty combination of sweet, sour and salty, making it a good dessert or snack.

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IMG_20190411_162927.jpgOrchard Road was next with our destination The Dark Gallery at Takashimaya.

Here’s where we tried out Ruby Art, dark chocolate ice cream covered with ruby, and Pastel Gems (right), bonbons in three flavours using ruby chocolate.

By now, we had a good understanding of how ruby works. As it is sweet and sour, the concoctions added other tastes in order to temper the sweetness.

In this instance, dark chocolate was used to add a bit of bitterness to neutralise the sweetness.

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The Dark Gallery’s Ruby Art

IMG_20190411_174049.jpgThe final destination was Neon Pigeon at Keong Saik Road.

As it’s a night joint, the pub had to open earlier just for us. Its creation is simply called Rubi (below), ruby chocolate infused, sake-based cocktail paired with a light ruby chocolate mousse dessert (right).

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For some, it marked a good ending to the day. My ruby chocolate tasting ended at The Dark Gallery where Ruby Art with its dark chocolate ice cream provided the perfect finish.

Tickets for The Rubylicious Adventure are available from today till May 24, 2019 for purchase at http://foodxervices.com/rubylicious/. Priced at S$120 (inclusive of GST), each ticket covers an item each for the entire experience. Buy two tickets at S$220 and four tickets for S$400. Redemption period is from April 18 to May 31, 2019.

With Mother’s Day round the corner, it’s a thoughtful gift to bring your mum to sample the newest chocolate in the world. You don’t need to do everything in one day — it will be an overdose and over-indulgence.

Spread the experience over a few weeks. After all, the redemption period ends on May 31. Enjoy The Rubylicious Adventure!

#rubychocolate #rubylicious

New hangout at Changi Airport T3

IMG_20190303_201714.jpgFootball fans, rejoice! There’s a new place to catch your team live — at The ST3PS at Changi Airport Terminal 3. Best of all, it’s in the public area so you can rally your folks and watch there if you’re staying in the eastern part of Singapore.

My family discovered this new hangout when we went for a stroll around Terminal 3 after breakfast on March 2. The area was cordoned off for its opening ceremony that evening.  A band was setting up their instruments in preparation of the concert that night.

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Thanks to the kindness of the team there, we were able to get behind the barricade for a closer look and to take some shots. According to the team, the place is available for booking through Changi Airport Group.

It certainly looks like an interesting venue if your event is open for public viewing and not something you want to do behind closed doors. The natural lighting from the roof of T3 makes the place nice and bright.

IMG_20190302_114514.jpgBack to watching football, if you’re catching a match there, there’s plenty of food options for meals, including Yakun for coffee and toast, and snacks are just steps away at NTUC Finest.

Well done, Changi Airport Group! Now I have one more reason to visit T3.

 

 

 

When is a sale a sale?

Lazada 11 11Alibaba set a new record of US$30.8 billion in sales on November 11, aka Singles Day. The figure eclipsed the US$4 billion that Amazon brought in on Prime Day in July.

If anything, this shows that people are drawn to sales — 10/10, 11/11 and with Black Friday and Christmas coming up soon. It’s like everybody has been saving up just for these occasions.

But, is a sale really a sale or just an opportunity for sellers to sell more because of the hype?

Sometimes, we can’t really tell, especially if we’re just blindly caught up in the frenzy and thinking that most, if not all, deals are good.

Here’s where a little homework can make a world of difference:

  1. Know the usual price. Find out the usual price of the product you’re eyeing, then you’ll know if the deal is good.
  2. Search and search some more. Don’t be too trigger happy and click on the first listing, Scour through the list to compare prices for similar products.
  3. Warranty period. Do consider warranty period if you’re getting an electronic or mobile device. Some products may simply be cheaper because they are brought in by parallel importers and come without or with limited warranty.
  4. Any bundling? If the price doesn’t look discounted, find out if the listing comes with any gifts. Sometimes, new products cannot be discounted, such as the OnePlus 6T smartphone (below), which was launched end October. On November 11, the deal came with an additional adapter and cable.OnePlus 6T
  5. Shipping cost. Another deal breaker is shipping cost. Some vendors give free shipping on special sales while others may offer discounted shipping. But, take note of delivery timeline in such instances.

Doing your homework will help you make better decisions at the next sales — Black Friday!

 

 

 

Targus Mobile ViP Backpack makes travelling a breeze

Targus frontVendors often give out so-called premium at press events, conferences and exhibition. While receiving them is a thrill, many of these premiums or tchoichkes end up in the bin, given to someone else or hidden in a stash somewhere.

While at Computex this week, I received a gift from a vendor that will definitely be used. Why? Because it is practical and very useful especially for travelling.

The gift is a Targus Mobile ViP Backpack with the ARM logo.

Upon first look, it looks big but that’s because it has several compartments and can house up to a 16-inch notebook. Surprisingly, it’s light and the construction is such that it doesn’t feel heavy even when filled.

What makes this backpack fantastic for travelling is it’s patented design where it can be unzipped and placed at the airport scanner without needing to remove the notebook. That’s a boon for frequent travellers as one of the biggest pain of clearing security is having to remove the notebook and other electronic devices, among other things.

Why I like the Targus Mobile ViP Backpack:

  1. Targus sideBig and spacious: There are enough pockets for lots of stuff — a notebook pocket, an adjustable main pocket, three front pockets, and two side pockets.
  2. Practical and great for travelling: There’s no need to remove the notebook to clear TSA check plus loads of room for other stuff.
  3. Protects the notebook: A feature called the SafePort Sling keeps the notebook secure so that it doesn’t hit the floor when the bag’s placed down. The backpack also stands sturdily so there’s no need to try to balance it between the legs or rest it against a chair or wall.
  4. Attaches to rolling luggage: Simply slip the strap on the handle of the rolling luggage for easier movement.
  5. Fits up to 16-inch notebooks: This is a great plus because many bags cannot fit notebooks larger than 14 inches without looking bulged. What’s more, there another pocket for a 12-inch tablet. Enough said.

For frequent travellers or even professionals who have to bring their notebooks around, the Targus Mobile ViP Backpack is a great option. Thanks, ARM, for the wonderful gift!

You may order the backpack from Targus at US$89.99.

Shop, shop, shop in Malaysia till September

Care to buy an apartment such as one in M Vertica Cheras?
Care to buy an apartment such as one in M Vertica Cheras?

Malaysia’s goods and services tax (GST) will be abolished from tomorrow (June 1). This translates to a six-percent savings — a substantial amount especially for big ticket items such as property, cars, jewelry, and high-end gadgets.

It’s a tax-free window that will last till September when the government plans to implement a sales and services tax (SST).

If people open their purses, it’s going to be at least 90 days of boom town for businesses in Malaysia.