DISTRESSED startup honestbee plans to open a pizza shop in Siglap, and has already shifted kitchen equipment and furniture to a shophouse unit at Upper East Coast Road, The Business Times (BT) has learnt.
The latest development comes as the company also appears to be tight on working capital. BT understands that honestbee has not paid out salaries and Central Provident Fund contributions to its 60-odd staff for February. Ex-employees are also still owed their final tranche of salary repayments.
When BT visited the Siglap unit on Saturday, a refrigerator, a pasta maker, a coffee machine, several large cardboard boxes, IT equipment, honestbee-branded bags and several shelves were visible from the exterior.
BT also understands from sources that honestbee owns a wood-fired pizza oven, purchased in 2018 for habitat, that could be used in the new pizza shop. One source estimated that it was bought for about S$38,000, but has been left unused thus far.
According to regulatory filings, three units of the two-storey shophouse along Upper East Coast Road are owned by honestbee chief executive Ong Lay Ann.
In response to queries from BT, an honestbee spokesman confirmed that the company is in the “very early stages of setting up a quick service F&B concept and a tech-enabled convenience store” at the location.
On the rental arrangement, the spokesman said that honestbee will be leasing the unit for a year from Mr Ong at the “market rate”.
“(The) store will be focused on fast food service for takeaway. It will be similar in concept to habitat in that it will also be utilising existing technologies… such as the Click-and-Collect functionalities, Scan and Go feature, and our proprietary BeePay wallet,” the spokesman said.
When asked about the salary delays, the spokesman said that honestbee “is not in a financial position to make payments in full given the protracted closure of habitat”.
She declined to comment on whether honestbee plans to remain a tenant at 34 Boon Leat Terrace or terminate its lease early.
honestbee’s latest plan comes about a week after it cleared out its furniture, fixtures and equipment from habitat’s premises at 34 Boon Leat Terrace, escalating tensions between the startup and habitat landlord LHN Space Resources.
BT understands that honestbee called the police after LHN representatives showed up at habitat to question why the startup was shifting its furniture out. The furniture is understood to have been transported to a warehouse space in Genting Lane.