Royal Selangor, the world’s largest pewter company offering fine craftsmanship, celebrates 50 years in Singapore. The golden anniversary event will take guests on a journey to commemorate the company’s rich history – from a factory at Paya Lebar Road surrounded by attap huts and farms, to growing into a household name, to standing on the world stage at the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix. Pioneering employees will be honoured at the event where the new Savoy collection by renowned Singapore-based Australian designer Mr Jarrod Lim will also be launched.
Pioneers of Pewter
Brought into Singapore by Mr Yong Poh Shin, son of Mr Yong Peng Kai who is the owner of Selangor Pewter in Kuala Lumpur, he and his young team of Malaysian artisans hopped onto the southbound train in 1968 and dived straight into the business of pewter crafting in the company’s first overseas endeavour. As a new industry, they faced a shortage of available workers. On a family friend’s suggestion, Mr Yong started to hire the physically-challenged to work at the factory. Despite a steep learning curve, the wheelchair-bound employees were diligently polishing and buffing pewter items. The company thrived and secured a key distributor, Orient Crafts, an established company known for its fashion businesses and franchises for Levi’s, Escada and Liz Claiborne.
By the early 1970s, the company needed more sales to take it to the next level. Mr Yong took over the duties of distribution from Orient Crafts and met up with managers and agents from over 26 retail stores that were mainly selling jewellery, watches, cameras and gifts in high-traffic shopping malls. Business boomed by the mid-1970s and the factory grew from less than 20 to 120 workers. Their tankards, tea sets and other pewter items made their way into many Singaporean homes, offices and residences of tourists. The company closed its Paya Lebar factory in the early 1990s due to the strong Singapore dollar, but they continue to offer a wide range of tableware and gift items through a solid network of showrooms and dealers today.
Honouring the Royal Selangor Singapore Story
The story of Royal Selangor Singapore will be illustrated for all to see at the anniversary event where guests will be whisked away on a journey that takes them back in time. A specially curated heritage gallery will trace the company’s history from its early years to becoming a ubiquitous presence in Singapore. Iconic designs such as the 2012 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix trophy and the Vapour collection, both by local designer Mr Nathan Yong, will be some of the products showcased along with the Singapore Scenes collection.
As Royal Selangor Singapore looks back to its past, pioneering employees will receive special acknowledgement for shaping the company during its formative years and building a solid foundation for the company. One of them is Mr Saleh Haji Hassan, an all-rounded foreman who was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Paya Lebar factory and training new employees. Not only was he able to craft a beer mug from a pewter sheet, but he was also an expert solderer, spinner and a virtuoso at computerised engraving machines.
Throughout its 50 years in Singapore, Royal Selangor has launched a collection of homeware items in collaboration with Mr Jarrod Lim called Crystalline which has won the Tableware International Awards of Excellence 2018 under the Metals/Metalware category. Savoy, a collection of bathroom accessories inspired by the titular luxurious London hotel, will be the second collaborative offering with Mr Lim and will be introduced at the 50th-anniversary event.
Royal Selangor Singapore is the sole marketing and distributing company of Royal Selangor pewter in the Lion City and continues to share the art and beauty of Malaysian pewter with its customers through its timeless pieces for all generations.