Katong Flower Shop
by Thulaja, Naidu Ratnala
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.3 A former president of the Singapore Florist Association,4 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.5
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.6
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.8
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 BedokRoad.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. Katong Flower Shop. (2017). About us. Retrieved 2017, October 7 from Katong Flower Shop website: http://www.katongflowershop.com/about-katong-flower-shop.html
2. Lim, P. L. (1989, January 11). Sleepy Katong awakes. The New Paper, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Katong Flower Shop. (n.d). About us. Retrieved 2016, October 7 from Katong Flower Shop website: http://www.katongflowershop.com/about-katong-flower-shop.html
3. Goh, L. (2007, July 31). Size is no obstacle; SMEs just do it. The Straits Times, p. 111; Lim, R. (1988, January 17). All set for the bloom boom next month. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Sleepy Katong awakes. (1989, January 11). The New Paper, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Lim, H. K. (1981, November 16). It’s a rosy life as more say it with flowers. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Norhaiza Hashim. (1997, October 18). Francais bunga pertama [First floral franchise]. Berita Harian, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Thong, E. (1984, May 13). Are local florists in danger of wilting? The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Lum, M. (1996, June 23). Florists sitting on bed of roses as more say it with blooms. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Lum, M. (1996, June 23). Florists sitting on bed of roses as more say it with blooms. The Straits Times, p. 2; Page 18 advertisements column 1. (1982, December 12). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Yeoh, W. T. (2003, June 27). That XXXtra something. The New Paper, p. 48. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Florists see wilting demand this Chinese New Year. (2016, February 4). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
12. Tan, G. (1988, February 7). Business blooms for florists, nurseries. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Goh, L. (2007, July 31) Size is no obstacle; SMEs just do it. The Straits Times, p. 111. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Part-time florist bags award. (1999, October 31). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Tan, E. (2016, May 11). Blooming with the times: Older florists evolving to keep afloat. Today. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
16. Katong Flower Shop. (2017). About us. Retrieved 2017, October 4 from Katong Flower Shop website: http://www.katongflowershop.com/about-katong-flower-shop.html
17. Katong Flower Shop. (2018). Home. Retrieved 2018, August 14 from Katong Flower Shop website: http://www.katongflowershop.com/home.html
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.