On 11 July, the owner of a Hainanese curry rice store previously located in Thomson Plaza and Seletar Mall wrote a Facebook post sharing that the food standards at his stores have dropped as the stores are no longer under them.
“As some of you know, we have gone through a difficult period since the beginning of COVID. During this time, we have heard many concerns and received various feedback from both our loyal supporters, families and friends. We deeply and sincerely appreciate and value your strong support for many years. Because of this, we would like to address some of your questions and explain the reasons for the drastic drop in our food standards of late.”
According to him, what happened was that a CEO (he kept the CEO’s name anonymous) approached the family business in April 2019 proposing a joint-venture “to bring our brand into all major shopping malls”. They were then told to give up their original stalls to commit to the venture.
“After some verbal negotiations, we allegedly entered into the JV with XXX Group without any contract. There were no appointment letters given to us despite it being a standard industry practice. The JV registered our trademarks and brand name under them, owning our brand legally without our realization. On December 2019, we opened up our first outlet with them at Thomson Plaza. On October 2020, the second outlet at Seletar Mall followed. Our family and loyal staff worked hard to build our family brand and to preserve our reputation with our existing customers.”
However, in February 2021, the owner of the company decided to terminate the employment of the family. The family also lost their rights to their Facebook page after the daughter of the company’s manager decided to remove them, when she was added to assist with their marketing.
The loyal staffs of the curry rice store resigned, refusing to give up their family recipe and trade secrets to the company.
“XXX refused to return our trademark and intimidated us with lawyer’s letters to buy it back. The JV continued using our brand and trademark, using their own modified recipe in attempts to mimic our family’s recipe and taste. But our loyal and knowledgeable customers have not been fooled by the drastic change of taste and flavours which is obvious to all.”
The company has also yet to pay the family their salaries, and due to the lack of contracts/appointment letters, the stall was unable to seek help from MOM and TADM. The company also denied that the family were employees.
“When questioned by the Judge in Court, XXX was unable to give satisfactory answers and was ordered to pay up. Thankfully, the judge was fair enough to make him compensate us, although that was not even close to what was actually owed. At least there was some measure of justice served.”
Currently, the family is trying to get back the family brand to resume the legacy of their grandfather’s hard work. As of now, they do not own any any stalls.