HERE is plenty of talk about gloomy times ahead but this year looks rosy for companies in sectors such as health care, food and construction, according to industry leaders yesterday.

They were full of optimism at a discussion to launch this year's Enterprise 50 (E50) awards.

'2012 is supposed to be turbulent but for us, it's a year of growth and expansion,' said Dr Rosemary Tan, chief executive of molecular diagnostics kit maker Veredus Laboratories.

'Health care is an area that people put emphasis on regardless of whether times are good or bad,' she said.

Her firm - already operating in China, Europe, the United States and parts of the Middle East - plans expansion in South America, having already entered Brazil.

Mr Pek Lian Guan, chief executive of mainboard-listed developer Tiong Seng Holdings, said he expected a 'busy year for construction', pointing to the abundance of public and private housing projects as well as infrastructure work to be built over the next two to three years.

Mr Edlan Chua, chief operating officer (COO) of restaurant chain Paradise Group, said Chinese New Year spending this year was 'stronger' than last year's, indicating a better outlook.

Paradise Group also plans to expand. Five restaurants have opened already this year in Singapore, with three to five more to start operating in the second half. The group opened seven last year.

Mr Chua forecasts turnover growth to be similar to previous years' at around 50 per cent.

The bosses were panellists at the launch of the E50 awards, which are organised by The Business Times and KPMG, and sponsored by OCBC Bank.

Judges this year will assess companies' ability to turn lemons into lemonade.

'While less affected by the economic volatility plaguing the Western economies, Singapore has nevertheless faced its share of ups and downs,' said Mr Owi Kek Hean, KPMG's deputy managing partner and head of enterprise services.

'The key theme of this year's awards therefore centres on navigating through uncertain times, and turning adversity into opportunity.'

Business Times editor Alvin Tay said: 'These awards play an important role in recognising Singapore's next generation of promising and innovative enterprises.'

Nominations close on July 2. The E50 winners will be announced in the fourth quarter. Application details and forms can be found at


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