THE way many restaurant chains have cut costs and improved quality by using central kitchens to prepare some dishes holds a lesson for other industries, said Mr Lee Yi Shyan yesterday.
The Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development told a forum: "Sometimes, the best ideas come from other industries, because people in other industries are already doing it."
Mr Lee said the approach taken by food sector firms can apply across the business spectrum.
"Even when you run a central kitchen, you worry about logistics, you worry about use of equipment," he noted, adding that small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should look beyond their own industries.
He urged business owners to observe best practices in other industries and ask: "What does that mean for me?"
During the forum's panel discussion, Mr Lee said firms in the same industry could "come together" to overcome cost challenges.
He suggested that SMEs could learn from Raffles Hotel which used an e-platform to gather other hotels to buy toiletries such as toothbrushes more cheaply by buying together in bulk.
"They are competing, but also saving as a group," he noted.
The forum held at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday attracted about 240 business owners and managers. Panel speakers included Professor Hum Sin Hoon, deputy dean at the National University of Singapore Business School, and Mr Oliver Tian, president of the Singapore Industrial Automation Association.
The event was supported by the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council, a productivity outreach effort comprising government and industry representatives.