Steep rents push Singapore bridal shops into industrial parks

Sun Dec 2, 2012 4:03pm EST
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By Charmian Kok

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Far from the madding crowds of Singapore's glitzy shopping malls, Cynthia Neo runs a bridal boutique tucked away in a nondescript industrial building in an old housing estate, pushed off the high street by pricey retail rents.

The owner of J&C Bridal Collections pays one quarter the rent she once shelled out for a shop in the heart of Chinatown, where a string of restaurants, hotels and retail shops meant a steady stream of shoppers.

But rising rents may be creeping into the industrial parks too. Industrial property prices have surged 27 percent this year after a government crackdown on residential investment pushed speculators into factories and warehouses.

Residential property developers are starting to wade into the light industrial market too, trying out upscale "lifestyle" office parks that look like posh condominiums.

Some established industrial players say valuations are getting a bit too rich.

"It's been our assessment that the market has started to get a little hot," said Nick McGrath, chief executive officer of Singapore-listed AIMS AMP Capital Industrial REIT.

"We've used the strength of the market in the last 12 months to sell properties rather than buy," McGrath said, adding that the real estate investment trust has shifted its focus to upgrading existing assets instead of buying more.

Singapore's government has introduced six rounds of measures to cool rising home prices, including an additional stamp duty aimed at foreign buyers and a cap on tenures for all new residential property loans.   Continued...