1872 Clipper Tea Co. boss wants to retire as a hawker - true story

"I want to set up a wanton mee stall," says the man heading tea company, 1872 Clipper Tea Co.


The Moneymaker
: Rehan Amarasuriya, 30, is the man heading tea company, 1872 Clipper Tea Co. which just opened its flagship store at B4 of Ion Orchard. More notably, heís the second son of Sunil Amarasuriya, who holds the reins at storied family-owned business conglomerate BP de Silva Group, which includes Spizza, Senso, Audemars Piguet and Risis.

Home is: “I don’t really have one home, but I live alone now,” he says of the room he rents from his former high school classmate. The two of them live in a two-bedroom apartment in River Valley.

His ride is: A nine-year-old Audi A6 Avant, which he’s taken over from his mum. “My dad has been telling me to change it, but I refuse to. He always changes his car after three years, he always says that the maintenance will increase, and the car will give you problems. But I want to prove to him that a car can last 10 years. The other thing is that I want to be a lot more successful before I buy the next car: The most ah beng car, the Nissan Skyline GT-R.”

What’s in his wallet: Rehan’s wallet is just filled with “receipts, very little money, my house key, my ATM card, cash card, a copy of my driving licence, my Internet banking [device] which I just got today, and coins.” But he’s a firm advocate of payWave. “I think it’s so functional for everybody. I see it from the business perspective — transaction time, efficiency; I think it just makes sense. I would prefer cards over cash. Cash to me is very leceh for everyone.”

8 DAYS: Did you always know you’d want to be part of the family business?
REHAN AMARASURIYA: Yes, I always knew, but I didn’t think [it would be] so fast. I always thought that I would work in the finance industry for five or 10 years, learn some skills and then come back to the family business. It didn’t pan out that way. Every holiday when I was in university I would work with my dad; just understudy him. He was one man literally managing eight different businesses in eight different industries. I realised that he had so much on his plate. At a very young age I was exposed to financials, I was very curious; we would even discuss business. I always knew I had it in me to do business, so I thought, you know, I really want to help him. I think my last exam was on a Tuesday and on a Thursday I was on a plane back to Singapore and then onward to Switzerland for business. I didn’t even wait for my graduation which was two months later in Australia.

You are business savvy, but how about your personal money sense?
When it comes to my personal finances, I think I’m terrible. I really don’t have time to sit down and look at what my investments are. I don’t have any investments to start with. My money in general, I don’t really give it much thought. My focus is always on the business.

Do you believe in saving for a rainy day or spending knowing you’ll earn more tomorrow?
I definitely take the stance of saving for a rainy day. It’s something my dad has instilled in all of us. We’ve had a few personal tragedies, whether it was my grandma or certain relatives who needed money, so I always saw the benefit of having the cash ready when it rains. When I was younger... yeah, earn some money, spend the money. But I’m trying to be much more prudent [now].

What’s your most recent big splurge?
I don’t know what you consider a big splurge, because I don’t think I’ve ever made any purchase for over $1,000. Okay maybe I might’ve spent over $1,000 for a holiday, if I add it all up. I think it was Vietnam... for a week or so.

No guilty pleasures?
Not at all. Maybe alcohol... even then I would spend at most maybe $400-$500. I like gin, but when I go out, a lot of people don’t really drink gin. It’s more champagne or whisky. I like Monkey 47, that’s pretty nice. I’m always keen to try new gins, but they’re not easy to find.

Is there anything very heartlander about you?
Oh, everything. It starts from food. I love, love, love, just exploring heartlands. I travel a lot to hang out at kopitiams. I just love the sense that everyone is welcome no matter who you are, what you are, what you do. I feel it’s more real. I love talking to hawkers. There’s a mee pok stall maybe about 10 minutes’ walk from my office. This kopitiam has just one drink stall and one mee pok uncle. I love going there when I’m feeling stressed, and the mee pok uncle knows me. My retirement dream, and my whole family knows about this, I want to set up a wanton mee stall. I want to be cooking, and I want it to be in the heartland. My life is a bit different; I travel a lot, we have these shops in the centre of town. But to me relating to the man on the street is so important. So even though I might be perceived one way, I’m actually very different.

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