Katong Flower Shop

Katong Flower Shop is a florist and horticulture business set up in 1948.1 It was initially located at 117 East Coast Road.2  

Set up in 1948 by Low Teck Cheng, Katong Flower Shop has since created a niche for itself.A former president of the Singapore Florist Association,Low’s interest in flowers stemmed from selling orchids that he grew in small quantities in front of his home in Serangoon Gardens during the 1930s. The local flower business started to bloom in post-war Singapore, as flowers were required for weddings and other ceremonies.

Katong Flower Shop was reportedly the first to start a floral franchise in Singapore when it unveiled Katong Flora. The business also took orders from 141 countries through an international floral delivery service called Interflora.

Five-star hotels started using flowers in their aesthetic displays, with hospitals and homes following suit. Even in the 1980s, Low called on local florists to look beyond the shores for inspiration on floral arrangements, as a constant flow of new ideas and material were needed to keep the industry afloat.7 The 1990s saw more than 1,000 floral establishments in Singapore, and flowers were imported from the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Costa Rica and Columbia.

Low expanded his business to keep up with changing times. In 1982, he opened a new horticultural centre-cum-shop in Tanah Merah and a flora centre at the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Bedok Road.9 Katong Flower Shop became a family business when his son, Royston Low, joined him. Royston treated sick plants for free – a practice that was very much appreciated by the residents of Katong.10

Royston is currently the managing director of Katong Flower Shop.11 In 1988, it was reported that company had come up with a novel delivery service whereby customers could utilise major credit cards to place their orders by telephone to keep up with the high demand of kumquat plants during the Chinese New Year.12 The business went online in 2000, making it possible to order flowers, hampers and accessories via their website.13

Together with the Singapore Florist Association and Civic Flora, Katong Flower Shop has organised the Singapore Flower Festival, which included the national floral design competition.14

With an influx of new independent florists entering the market in recent years, older florists like Katong Flower Shop have to relook their business models and evolve to keep up with the times. Hence, Managing Director Royston Low deems it necessary to keep up with the trends that newer entrants are following, such as using netting and brown paper. His father, founder and chairman Low Teck Cheng who is in his 90s, still visits the shop daily and attends overseas seminars, workshops and exhibitions in search of new materials or flowers.15

On 5 December 2016, Katong Flower Shop relocated temporarily to 43 Changi South Avenue 2 due to the development project of the Tanah Merah MRT station.16 It moved to its current premises at 221-A Bedok South Ave 1 on 2 July 2018.17

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

1. ‘About Us,” Katong Flower Shop, accessed 7 October 2017.
2. Lim Phay-Ling, “Sleepy Katong Awakes,” New Paper, 11 January 1989, 16. (From NewspaperSG); Katong Flower Shop, “About Us.”
3. Leslie Goh, “Size Is No Obstacle; SMEs Just Do It,” Straits Times, 31 July 2007, 111; Russell Lim, “All Set for the Bloom Boom Next Month,” Straits Times, 17 January 1988, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
4. Lim, “Sleepy Katong Awakes.” 
5. Lim Hui Kiau, “It’s a Rosy Life as More Say It with Flowers,” Straits Times, 16 November 1981, 13. (From NewspaperSG)
6. Norhaiza Hashim, “Francais Bunga Pertama” [First floral franchise], Berita Harian, 18 October 1997, 25. (From NewspaperSG)
7. Elayne Thong, “Are Local Florists in Danger of Wilting?” Straits Times, 13 May 1984, 13. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Magdalen Lum, “Florists Sitting on Bed of Roses as More Say It with Blooms,” Straits Times, 23 June 1996, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Lum, “Florists Sitting on Bed of Roses”; “Page 18 Advertisements Column 1: Katong Flower Shop,” Straits Times, 12 December 1982, 18. (From NewspaperSG)
10. Yeoh Wee Teck, “That XXXtra Something,” New Paper, 27 June 2003, 48. (From NewspaperSG)
11. “Florists See Wilting Demand This Chinese New Year,” Channel NewsAsia, 4 February 2016. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
12. Grace Tan, “Business Blooms for Florists, Nurseries,” Straits Times, 7 February 1988, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Goh, “Size Is No Obstacle.” 
14. “Part-Time Florist Bags Award,” Straits Times, 21 October 1999, 26. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Emilia Tan, “Blooming with the Times: Older Florists Evolving to Keep Afloat,” Today, 11 May 2016, 40. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Katong Flower Shop, “About Us.”
17. Katong Flower Shop, “About Us.”

The information in this article is valid as at 2018 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


Trade and industry