[Update on 21 January 2020]
Homegrown family-friendly karaoke studio Teo Heng KTV was founded back in 1989 by Jackson Teo, who started out selling karaoke sound systems at Katong Shopping Centre.
In July last year, Teo Heng KTV announced that it will be closing down half of its 14 outlets in Singapore due to COVID-19.
However, when Vulcan Post spoke to Teo Heng KTV last October, it said that it has reinstated and returned only two outlets — Katong and Sembawang — in August 2020.
It shared on its Instagram post that “Teo Heng Trading will still be in operation” and will continue persevering for now.
They are trying to stay strong and hold on to two of their outlets at Ci Yuan Community Club and Tampines West Community Club since their rentals are much more affordable.
They are also hoping that the People’s Association can help them out on the rental front.
S$1.5M Reserves Drained
Teo Heng KTV has been struggling to survive since the government released the advisory in March last year for karaoke outlets and other entertainment venues to close as part of COVID-19 safety measures.
Jackson previously shared with Lianhe Wanbao that it expected to incur losses of $500,000 for a month-long closure. To date, Teo Heng KTV has been closed for 10 months.
In our previous interview with Teo Heng KTV’s director Jean Teo, she cited rental as their “biggest headache”.
Moreover, during their period of business closure, Teo Heng KTV’s 120-strong employees have been forcibly put out of work.
They were all paid full salaries for the first six months of closure, but their pay has since been reduced 50 per cent from last October onwards.
According to Jean, their workers have been very understanding about their financial situation.
In fact, it was their employees who suggested this pay cut. They understand that it is a difficult time for Teo Heng KTV and wanted to help alleviate their burden.
Thankfully, they were still raking in some money from their core business of selling sound systems, but sales have unfortunately dipped “at least 50 per cent” due to the pandemic.
With COVID-19, Teo Heng KTV has had to step up their cleaning and sanitisation efforts too.
So far, they have spent more than S$100,000 to install anti-virus fogging machines at every outlet. Every month, they also spend at least S$6,500 to keep the rooms clean and disinfected.
“Because we are not earning money now, but still need to keep spending, it’s a bit difficult,” Jackson said in a video interview with CNA Insider.
Jean had also previously shared that they had about S$1.5 million in reserves to keep them afloat.
If COVID-19 drags on, I don’t know if we can survive for another few months. Once our reserves are empty, it really means that we have to close everything.– Jean Teo, director of Teo Heng KTV
Lost Their Chance To Pivot
Previously, Jackson told Shin Min Daily News that he plans to raise S$1 million and put up a last fight to overcome this crisis. With the remaining outlets, he hopes to recoup the losses when they reopen.
The plan never bore fruition as karaoke outlets still remain largely closed.
Fortunately, the authorities announced plans to roll out limited pilot programmes to help the nightlife industry reopen safely.
However, Teo Heng KTV decided not to apply for the reopening as the high costs involved — such as conducting swab tests for every customer — will further take a toll on their business.
Therefore, it planned to turn six of its remaining 12 outlets into working and studying spaces equipped with free Wi-Fi.
The plans have now come to naught as the reopening pilot programme has been put on hold due to rising COVID-19 community cases.
This means they can no longer continue their plans to reopen. Without drawing any income, they cannot afford to pay off their rents.
While they have “good landlords” who are kind enough to not collect rent from them for the time being, she is aware that it is unfair for them to continue waiting.
Teo Heng KTV currently owes landlord rental from August 2020 to February 2021, but is now holding negotiation talks with them to hopefully come to a solution where both will not lose out.
Jean assured that “it’s a matter of time” before they make a comeback and will try to cut down on their losses in the meantime.
Featured Image Credit: Teo Heng KTV