Singapore: Nonstop Action!
With the Formula 1 Grand Prix extravaganza just over, Singapore should be expecting a lull. But instead it continues to welcome a steady stream of visitors who come for various business and leisure activities for which the region has become widely known.
With two integrated resorts in full operation and a couple of high-profile sporting events– the inaugural Youth Olympic Games 2010 in August and the return of the Formula 1 Night Races in September – there’s hardly time for things to slow down in Singapore.
The excitement translates into actual figures. Singapore’s economy has performed better than expected so far this year, with Q1 growth recorded at 16.9% higher than that of the corresponding period in 2008. Growth during Q2 was equally impressive: 19.3% over the same period in 2008. With stronger-than-expected GDP growth during the first half of 2010, Singapore revised its GDP growth forecast from 7% to 9%, for the year to 13% to 15%.
Among other factors boosting the economy are growth in the construction and services sectors, and a surge in exports. Singapore’s manufacturing output increased 8.1% this past August on a year-on-year basis. With bright prospects ahead, International Enterprise Singapore, the government’s trade promotion arm, has revised trade growth projections from 14% to 16%, for the year to 17% to 19%.
Singapore’s diverse and creative workforce continues to lure international businesses to set up a base in the country where they can efficiently oversee their businesses in Asia, the world’s fastest-growing region. Over 7,000 multinational corporations (MNCs) have bases in Singapore, where they benefit from the huge talent capital that the government nurtures. This year the Singapore government committed S$2.5 billion for training and skills upgrading.
The growth in Singapore’s tourism industry also reflects neighboring economies’ positive performances. Besides new attractions in the city-state, tourism arrivals can be attributed to the continuing strength of the Asian economy. Visitor arrivals in Singapore in August 2010 reached 996,000, representing an 18% growth year-on-year and the highest number of arrivals ever recorded for the month of August. Of Singapore’s top 15 tourism markets, 14 registered positive year-on-year growth in the same month.
None of this is lost on local businesses that are eyeing foreign markets in their expansion agenda. Over the past seven years, Far East Organization has built a network of offices in China, South Korea and Indonesia to launch the brand overseas – an early move that is now paying off well. The company is seeing an increase in overseas customers.
Meanwhile, The Ascott Limited plans to add another 14,000 apartment units to its current portfolio of 26,000 units by 2015. It is also investing S$50 million to refurbish more than ten existing properties in Asia and Europe in the next 12 months.
Wing Tai Holdings Limited is among the pioneers that have spread their operations across Asia. Today, it is a trusted brand not only in Singapore, but also in Malaysia and China, and in Hong Kong, where it began its journey in the 1960s.
Eu Yan Sang, world leader in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has embarked on innovations that benefit not only the company but the entire industry as well. It has set up advanced technological systems that ensure the quality of raw materials, in this case herbs, used in TCM. It also updates preparation methods of traditional remedies by turning potions into pills and capsules.
The success of these local brands has found resonance in both local and foreign markets, with the brands themselves representing high quality, reliability and world-class distinction.
Reaching Out Across and Above
A portfolio comprising developments that surpass market benchmarks allows Far East Organization to grow at home and abroad.
With over 700 projects spanning the full real estate spectrum, from residential and hospitality to commercial and mixed-use developments, Far East Organization has made significant contributions to the transformation of Singapore’s urban landscape and skyline over the past 50 years. The company offers diversified real estate services that include property development, leasing and management.
Besides being an established name in luxury condominiums and commercial centers, Far East Organization also has developed medical centers and ventured into other businesses such as food and beverages to bring new culinary brands and concepts to Singapore. By leveraging its real estate assets, knowledge and competency, Far East Organization is able to provide a seamless, one-stop service to meet a full range of work, living and leisure needs for its customers.
As the largest private property developer in Singapore, Far East Organization seeks to build on its growing reputation for delivering innovative and functional spaces, and providing high-quality experiences and value to its customers. At the same time, it challenges itself to continually create new development and lifestyle concepts that demonstrate not only scale, but also innovative management of spatial resources.
Central, the Organization’s award-winning live-work-play development on the banks of the historic Singapore River, for instance, pioneered small office home office (SOHO) units that innovatively realized space maximization, flexibility and utilization. Central represents the bold rethinking of boundaries between personal, working and leisure spaces that is at the core of new urban living.
The development is the Office Category winner of the prestigious FIABCI (International Real Estate Federation) Prix d’Excellence 2010, making Far East Organization the only real estate developer in the world to win the coveted international real estate award six times.
A Myriad of Choices
As Singapore establishes itself as a global metropolis, demand for luxury developments has also risen. For this segment, Far East Organization has developed the ultra-luxury brand Inessence, bringing world-class lifestyle to the world’s most discerning homeowners. Among the developments under this brand are Boulevard Vue, Alba and Skyline@Orchard Boulevard, located in three distinctive addresses around the much-sought-after Orchard Road, the shopping and entertainment district.
Boulevard Vue is distinguished by expansive residences that span at least an entire floor. In the context of limited land resources in Singapore, such an option represents unparalleled luxury. Available for full customization of interiors, Boulevard Vue is complemented by unsurpassed privacy and facilities. Alba, meanwhile, offers fully bespoke individual units, with owners wielding control over configuration and design of their interior spaces. This platform ensures that personal and lifestyle preferences are intimately realized.
Designed by renowned architect and Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate Professor Fumihiko Maki, Skyline@Orchard Boulevard is a modern masterpiece in the heart of the Orchard area. The understated elegance of these exquisite residences, distinguished by their clean and functional aesthetic, is complemented by customized interiors and unique facilities. This is Professor Maki’s first residential project in 40 years.
Imagined and created for numerous demands of global citizens is Orchard Scotts, a 387-unit luxury condominium development set in a prime, sprawling 2.5-hectare plot in the Orchard area. Luxury is expressed in spatial allocation. A mere 25% of the generous prime location is occupied by three residential towers; the remaining 75% of the grounds features landscaped areas or is earmarked for facilities.
The 2009 winner of the FIABCI Prix d’Excellence (Residential Category) features amenities never before offered in a condominium: a wine cellar, Japanese-style furo baths, outdoor dining gazebos with fully equipped kitchens, stately dining rooms, and spa pavilions with built-in massage beds and spa pools. Orchard Scotts uses proprietary software developed and written specifically for protecting and running residential estates – a first in the industry.
On one of the last remaining prime seafront sites along Singapore’s East Coast will rise Silversea, which will offer both stunning sea views and easy accessibility to the Raffles Place and Marina Bay financial hubs. The four residential towers will be linked on the 11th floor by sky promenades designed as a social hub where residents can take full advantage of the magnificent, unobstructed sea views.
Those who prefer to survey their surroundings from the top will find no better place than Altez: The 62-story condominium is the tallest residential development in Singapore at 250 meters and among the world’s tallest residential buildings. Rising from Enggor Street in the heart of the Central Business District, it commands panoramic views of the city skyline with rare views of Sentosa and surrounding islands. Its neighborhood in Tanjong Pagar has been identified as a new waterfront district; spanning some 300 hectares, it is nearly as large as Marina Bay.
Altez has lush sky gardens and recreational facilities, including a 50-meter lap pool, a gym and an area to relax on the 60th floor – offering residents the coveted experience of “dining among the stars.” The development’s five levels of greeneries give residents pockets of calm high above the ground.
Through the years, Far East Organization has built tremendous brand value, earning a reputation for high quality and reliability in markets such as Malaysia and Indonesia. With the rapid rise of wealth in the Asia Pacific region, the company has begun exploring other markets overseas.
Over the last seven years, Far East Organization has built a network of offices in China, South Korea and Indonesia in order to launch the brand and be closer to its customers across the region. In 2007, the company set up its office in Shanghai, followed by another one in Shenzhen early this year; its office in Beijing also will open in the near future. The move is paying off well: Over the past two years, the company has been seeing a steady increase among buyers from Indonesia and China.
Far East Organization offers a collection of over 50 penthouse units in Singapore. They are sought after for both the views and the value they command. The Organization is among a select few that offers such units ranging in size from 1,711 sq ft to 11,119 sq ft. In Singapore, where the best views are often glimpsed several feet above ground, penthouse units provide the ultimate privileged vantage points.
Beyond the Numbers
The Ascott Limited’s steady expansion will allow the company to further upgrade its people and systems to deliver more value to customers.
The numbers alone are impressive: over 20,000 operational serviced residence units with another 5,000 units under development and a portfolio comprising three highly recognizable brands – Ascott, Citadines and Somerset – spread over 60 cities in more than 20 countries in Asia Pacific, Europe and the Gulf region. Together they support The Ascott Limited’s reputation as the world’s largest international serviced residence owner-operator.
Headquartered in Singapore, The Ascott Limited pioneered Asia Pacific’s first international-class serviced residence property in 1984.
In 2006, the company set up the world’s first pan-Asian serviced residence real estate investment trust (REIT), Ascott Residence Trust and in 2008, the serviced residence industry’s first hospitality training center of its kind, Ascott Centre for Excellence. These have fortified the company for further growth.
With the launch of Ascott Raffles Place Singapore in 2008, The Ascott Limited created yet another benchmark for itself and the serviced residence industry. The meticulously conserved and restored heritage building that was formerly known as the Asia Insurance Building is now the company’s flagship premium serviced residence, a marble Art Deco landmark in the heart of Singapore’s financial and banking district.
Recognized for its fine accommodations and service excellence, the company has already collected a slew of awards this year, including “Best Serviced Apartment Company” at Business Traveller UK Awards; “Best Serviced Residence Brand in Asia Pacific” and “Best Serviced Residence in Asia Pacific” at the Business Traveller Asia Pacific Awards; “Best Serviced Residence Operator in China” at the TTG China Travel Awards and “Best Serviced Residence Operator in Asia Pacific” at the TTG Travel Awards; and “Best Serviced Residence in Asia Pacific” at the DestinAsian Readers’ Choice Awards.
With such accolades, The Ascott Limited is well positioned for the next phase of growth – a global expansion target to add another 14,000 apartment units to its current portfolio of 26,000 units by 2015. Fittingly, the plan was unveiled during the opening of its 278-unit, Ascott Huai Hai Road Shanghai. Besides the new property, the company announced that it has secured contracts to manage four premier Ascott-branded properties comprising over 800 apartment units in Ningbo, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Guangzhou. In Europe, Ascott is converting the 51-unit Citadines Louvre Paris into Ascott Louvre Paris, the company’s first Ascott-branded property in France, which will be completed in 2011.
“We are aiming for transformational change in Ascott,” said CEO, Mr. Lim Ming Yan. Although growing the numbers is an important part of that change, the resulting scale is envisioned to “allow us to further upgrade our people and systems to create more value for our customers,” Mr. Lim elaborated. In addition to adding new properties to its portfolio, the company is investing S$50 million to refurbish more than 10 existing properties in Asia and Europe over the next 12 months. The company is positive about the refurbishment, buoyed by the enthusiastic feedback from customers on the recent S$20 million revamp of Citadines Prestige South Kensington London and, in Singapore, Somerset Liang Court and Somerset Grand Cairnhill.
Ascott intends to fuel its expansion plans with investments and management contracts. “Our Singapore-listed REIT, Ascott Residence Trust, and private equity funds, such as Ascott China Fund, are strong platforms that will enable us to grow rapidly. China, Vietnam, Singapore and India continue to be our key growth markets in Asia,” said Mr. Lim. In Europe, the company will ride on the back of its strong presence in France, Germany and the U.K. to expand its global presence.
With remarkable success in projects that incorporate thoughtful design, sustainability and conservation, Wing Tai retains its prime position as a world-class developer in Asia.
The highly innovative and inspiring projects by Wing Tai Holdings Limited have placed the company at the forefront of property development in Singapore. The fact that many of them have been cited with important international awards for design, sustainability and conservation only attests to the company’s finely honed ability to deliver well beyond market expectations.
Wing Tai has established itself as an industry leader outside Singapore as well, through various groundbreaking projects. Its numerous collaborations with world-renowned architects, including Jean Nouvel, Toyo Ito and I.M. Pei, have placed it among the most forward-looking developers whose projects are destined to find resonance far into the future.
“We are getting ready for the launch of Helios Residences on Cairnhill Road in Singapore’s prime District 9,” shares Ms. Len Siew Lian, General Manager, Property. Located a short walk away from Orchard Road and notably good schools, the development is expected to be ready for occupation at the end of Q1 2011. “It has 140 units comprising two-, three- and four-bedroom plans and three penthouses,” Ms. Len adds.
Wing Tai has seen tremendous progress since it started out in Hong Kong as a garment manufacturer in the 1950s. By the early 1960s it had expanded its operations to Singapore and Malaysia, eventually entering the Singapore property market in 1978. It has been listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange since 1989.
Today, the WingTai Asia group is an Asian behemoth comprising Wing Tai Holdings Limited Singapore, Wing Tai Holdings Limited Hong Kong and DNP Holdings Berhad in Malaysia. It has total assets exceeding S$3 billion with an extensive land bank of choice sites in prime locations. Its core businesses include property development and investment, hospitality management and lifestyle retail.
As of June this year, WingTai Asia’s residential property sales accounted for 72% (S$589 million) of its total revenue (S$821 million), followed by retail at 21% (S$179 million) and investment properties at 4% (S$36 million).
A deep and abiding appreciation for heritage, design and the arts, paired with the enhancement of living environments has guided WingTai Asia’s activities, from conceptualization to construction and delivery of various projects. It was recognized with a Special Mention at the FIABCI Prix d’Excellence Award for its restoration of the Tan Yeok Nee House; the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Architectural Heritage Award for its restoration of a colonial bungalow at Draycott 8; and Building and Construction Authority’s Green Mark Gold Award for its commitment to environmental sustainability. Helios Residences and L’VIV have been cited for inventive design with superior environmental performance.
The Toyo Ito-designed Belle Vue Residences in the exclusive Oxley-Orchard neighborhood exemplify the company’s values. This project manifests its commitment to sustainability and sensitivity to the natural environment and local culture, as well as its technological advancement in design.
According to Mr. Edmund Cheng, Deputy Chairman of Wing Tai Holdings: “For Belle Vue Residences, we have succeeded in preserving the rich history and heritage of the site and, through brilliant architecture, added a special dimension to the natural environment. In a way we have paraphrased nature, and taken the concept of city living to an unprecedented level.”
Championing the TCM Industry
Eu Yan Sang’s innovations have not only placed it at the forefront of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) they have benefited the entire industry.
Richard Y.M. Eu, Group CEO of Eu Yan Sang, remains confident about the soundness of his company’s business model. After all, it has taken the enterprise from selling herbs and Chinese medicine in Malaysia to sustaining regional and global interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
The secret, of course, lies in staying true to the TCM philosophy of providing natural remedies that restore balance in one’s body.
If there are changes Mr. Eu feels are necessary to take the brand to a whole new level, they have to do with further development of intellectual capital. “We will keep building the brand and providing our customers with excellent service just as we have through the years, but we will also modernize our services and production processes,” he says. “We will communicate the brand and offer products in ways that are familiar and acceptable to new consumers.”
Eu Yan Sang has maintained a strong bond with its core customers; but with interest in TCM on the rise among a new generation of consumers with rapidly changing lifestyles, updating TCM practices has become necessary. Eu Yan Sang has already embarked on such innovative changes. It has ventured into the lifestyle sector, offering alternative traditional remedies in health and body care. It also has stocked its shelves with new preparations of traditional remedies. What used to be prescribed as teas, brews and poultices are now dispensed in convenient pack forms with pills, capsules and granules.
More importantly, however, Eu Yan Sang has launched pioneering efforts to maintain the quality and integrity of TCM while broadening its acceptance. The first of these marries traditional wisdom with modern science and technology in preparing potent Chinese proprietary medicine. Called herb fingerprinting, the process uses advanced facilities to analyze and identify herbs according to their unique compositions. The result is better control and consistency of herb sourcing and grading, as well as improved production process.
In 2008, the company introduced the Eu Yan Sang Good Agronomic Practices for Herbs (EYSGAP-Herbs) certification scheme. Good Agronomic Practices covers above-soil operations such as storage and transportation of herbs in order to provide additional guarantees of quality and efficacy. EYSGAP-Herbs is a pioneering effort developed in Singapore and audited by Agri-food Technologies, a subsidiary of Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore. It links all important processes of procurement, handling and processing of TCM raw materials from seed to shelf.
Eu Yan Sang’s latest achievement is the creation of the world’s first online portal that tracks TCM herbs throughout the whole value chain. Named Integrated Good Agronomic Practices for Traditional Chinese Medicine Electronic System (iGATES) it ensures the safety and traceability of herbs through the integration of advanced chemical and genomic fingerprinting of TCM herbs. This system, which works with the EYSGAP protocols, helps regulators worldwide set higher food safety standards for the TCM industry.
“The holy grail, of course, is to enter the mainstream with natural therapeutic product in a form that modern consumers can relate to. For this we need to equip our business with a robust scientific discipline while respecting TCM practices, ” Mr. Eu concludes.
Singapore - A Global Talent Capital
Singapore’s creative, diverse workforce is a draw for global business titans.
Singapore’s business-friendly policies have been instrumental in keeping its economy on a competitive footing. For this, it has won numerous accolades, including one from the World Bank, which named it as the world’s easiest place to do business – a network-ready city that lets companies plug into a dynamic and thriving economy with wide access to the rest of Asia.
Among these policies is Singapore’s dynamic approach to its human capital management. The outcome is a creative, diverse workforce, which has propelled the country to the league of top destinations for multinationals to sink roots and to tap the fast-growing Asian market. Despite not being endowed with any natural resources, its economy has thrived because of its highly educated and well-trained workforce, the product of significant investments over the years in building a world-class education system and continual skills upgrading program.
Today, Singapore’s workforce has evolved to include not only local, but foreign talent as well. This diversity is a big draw, especially to MNCs that use the city-state as a base for creating and test-bedding products for culturally diverse Asia.
Globalization has revolutionized the way businesses work. Increasingly, leading-edge industries are looking for an interdisciplinary and multicultural approach to designing solutions and conducting business. Singapore taps into this growing need by creating an environment that attracts and retains top talents from diverse cultures, nationalities and disciplines. This unique trait of Singapore’s talent pool fosters collective creativity in decision making and problem solving, a boon for companies looking to stay ahead of the game beyond competing on costs.
Global titans from varied fields ranging from banking to cutting-edge biomedical sciences needed little persuasion to set up regional headquarters and R&D centers in Singapore to leverage the collective creativity sparked by the island’s diverse workforce. Their presence in turn has created a virtuous circle that draws even more top minds to relocate to the country.
The government, through its various agencies, ensures that companies not only find Singapore a strategic springboard for their Asian operations but also ensures that they find the right talent and skills to grow their operations. Specialist centers have been developed to gather related growth industries in a single location and promote creative and interdisciplinary interaction. These centers include Biopolis, which has attracted leading companies in the biomedical field, and Fusionopolis, which host companies in the infocommunication technology industry.
Today, the island is home to over 7,000 MNCs, with more making their way here as Asia booms.
Partnering Industries to Nurture Talent
The Singapore government provides unstinting support for workforce development. During the global financial crisis, not only did it not cut back on funds allocated to workforce training, it set aside a large part of its S$20.5 billion budget last year toward helping companies save jobs, improve workforce productivity and retrain workers. This year, it committed another S$2.5 billion to training and skills upgrading.
Singapore’s commitment to building a globally competitive workforce in the midst of the economic crisis has paid off. In late 2009, Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, established its global marine headquarters in Singapore. Rolls-Royce leverages the government’s subsidised programme to train a ready pool of specialized workers for its manufacturing and assembly facilities located at Seletar Aerospace Park. Medtronic, the world’s leading medical technology company has set up its international headquarters as well as manufacturing operations in Singapore. Ubisoft, the French gaming giant, is also expanding rapidly and working with the government to ensure a pipeline of creative talents for the gaming industry.
Besides workplace training, there are other avenues for the Singapore workforce to upgrade their skills, such as graduate educational programs at world-renowned institutions. INSEAD, University of Chicago Booth School of Business in Singapore, and EDHEC-Risk Institute are among those who have a presence in Singapore.
Most Livable City
Beyond professional opportunities, Singapore continues to draw the best global talents to its shores because it has consistently been recognized in international rankings as one of the most livable cities in the world. The country is renowned for its clean, green and safe environment. There is also no lack of entertainment options and other leisure activities outside of work. Indeed, Singapore is an ideal home for diverse talents and lifestyles.
For more information, visit www.talentcapital.sg
An Address in Asia
Land resource management is among Singapore’s greatest contributions to urban planning and is one of the areas in which the small city-state is an acknowledged global thought leader.
There seem to be two Singapores thriving simultaneously: One exists above ground with its recognizable landmarks; the other flourishes just below it, with its own set of unique attractions. They both hum with order and efficiency, innovation and creativity. As Singapore continues to grow and its homegrown brands travel far beyond its shores, it does so with fantastic support from a network of transportation and communication facilities that are installed mostly underground.
While this is common among modern urban centers across the world, it has a different meaning in Singapore, where underground development is an exciting prospect. In almost all underground train stations, a commercial hub thrives; beneath towering offices are an assortment of services from banks to laundry, food courts, pet grooming and even learning centers. Linkways take pedestrians from hotels to swanky malls, theaters, tourist spots and train stations. Indeed, it is possible to cover a great distance along the famed Orchard Road without once going aboveground.
Among the most exciting developments in Singapore today is the Downtown Line or DTL, an underground railway network that supports the Downtown and Marina Bay area, including the Ophir-Rochor Road corridor, One Raffles Quay, Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resorts, and Marina Bay Financial Centre. The project, comprising 34 stations, is being constructed in three phases. In 2017, when fully operational, it will serve close to half a million commuters daily.
More attractions will be launched in the coming months with the completion of the Marina Bay development, the transformation of the Ophir-Rochor Road corridor into a new lifestyle hub and the construction of a new S$1.33 billion Sports Hub. The third phase, scheduled to open by mid-2014, will feature a 55,000-seat domed stadium and will connect the existing Singapore Indoor Stadium, an Aquatic and Leisure Center and a 41,000-squarefoot retail space through pedestrian walkways. It is expected to place Singapore in the lead as Asia’s top sporting events destination.
With its limited land resources, Singapore has taught the world the value of prudent land use planning. It has created an environment that is the model of most developing cities, and a green metropolis that is ready for the challenges and realities of the future. Today, Singapore is surprisingly able to draw from its limited land resources to provide a home for its citizens and international talents.
The Ascott Limited
Eu Yan Sang International Ltd
Far East Organization
Talent Capital Singapore
WingTai Holdings Limited Singapore
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