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Inmates cook up a storm in Changi catering kitchen as part of training, rehab programme, Courts & Crime News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – When father-of-two Faruk was sentenced to seven years and 10 months’ jail in 2017 for drug-related offences, he did not expect to find a passion for decorating cakes or learning how to fold pastries while behind bars.

The 38-year-old, who declined to give his full name, spends six days a week in a kitchen as part of his work programme during his incarceration in the Changi Prison Complex.

While his family has yet to try his creations, the former mechanic hopes to make his sons, aged 12 and 13, their favourite strawberry cheesecake, when he is released.

“My family was surprised that I could bake cakes. I could see from their faces that they are happy I’m learning because I have never done this kind of thing before,” said Faruk in a phone interview on Wednesday (Oct 7). “(In the kitchen,) I learnt how to be patient, relax, and come up with more ideas to decorate (the cakes).”

He hopes to work in a pastry shop after his release.

About 30 or so inmates are chosen every year to work in The Changi Tearoom, after they have attended correctional programmes that support their rehabilitation.

They are chosen based on interest or prior experience working in the food and beverage sector. Other programmes include tailoring workshops and working in call centres.

Located in the prison complex, the catering kitchen serves as an industry-standard training ground for offenders.

It is managed by YR Industries, a subsidiary of the Yellow Ribbon Singapore. While the public can usually order catering services from the kitchen, it currently serves only prison staff in the light of Covid-19 safety measures.

Another offender, who wanted to be known only as Michael, said he refined his skills in The Changi Tearoom kitchen.

He is serving a 5½

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Can Lowe’s Overtake Home Depot’s Top Spot?

Where do you shop for home improvement projects? For many Americans, increasingly, the answer is Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW). Home Depot (NYSE: HD), a Dow Jones Industrial Average component and the largest U.S. home improvement retailer, benefited enormously from the recent positive trends in home improvement. But competitor Lowe’s did even better, and is right on its heels for the top spot. Can Home Depot keep its lead, or is it in danger of being overtaken by Lowe’s?

Why Home Depot needs to worry

Home Depot has been the leading home improvement chain for decades, being the first to create and expand its big box stores across the U.S. Annual sales came in at more than $110 billion in 2019, a 2% increase over the prior year. The company is admired as solution-driven and agile, and as it helps people across the country with do-it-yourself building projects, sales continue to grow.

Lowe’s is smaller than Home Depot in both store count and sales, and was struggling before Marvin Ellison joined as CEO in 2018. He set a plan to turn the company around, and it’s starting to take shape.

White king knocking off black king in Chess.

Image source: Getty Images.

As recently as February of this year, Lowe’s had an inadequate digital program, running way behind Home Depot, and almost all of its growth came from stores. But that gave the company great leverage, because as soon as it invested in a digital overhaul, sales exploded. The second quarter’s huge increase was powered by a 135% digital spike.

Lowe’s is making all sorts of improvements through its retail fundamental strategy. It revamped its website and mobile app, and moved over to the cloud. During the next year and a half, it’s planning to open a large number of distribution and fulfillment centers. It recently launched a

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Handyman Connection Recognized As A Franchise Times 2020 Top 200+ Franchise

BLUE ASH, Ohio, Oct. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Handyman Connection, a home repair company with over 25 years of experience, announced today it was recognized as a Franchise Times Top 200+ franchise. The Franchise Times Top 200+ is an annual ranking of the 500 largest franchise systems in the United States by global system wide sales, based on the previous year’s performance.

“We are thrilled to be named a Top 200+ franchise by Franchise Times once again,” said Jeff Wall, CEO of Handyman Connection. “This recognition is a true testament to our accomplishments as a brand over the past year and we look forward to continued growth and success in the year ahead.”

Handyman Connection operates more than 60 locations throughout 25 states and Canada. For more than 25 years, the brand has offered homeowners across North America a complete resource for professional craftsmanship and exemplary customer service. Handyman Connection offers a variety of services ranging from traditional home repairs to painting, remodeling and more.

Additional information on the Top 200 can be found in the October issue of Franchise Times and the full list at http://www.franchisetimes.com/2020-Top-200/.

About Handyman Connection
Since 1991, homeowners across North America have been calling on Handyman Connection for our professional craftsmanship and exemplary customer service. Each Handyman Connection franchise is locally owned and operated, backed by the company that helped launch the industry. Our values are steeped in a long-standing dedication to the people we serve, and truly differentiate Handyman Connection as a home repair company.

Contact:
Julia Block
Fish Consulting
[email protected]
954-893-9150

SOURCE Handyman Connection

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August Home Sales Soar to a Record High: 5 Top Housing Picks

The U.S. housing sector is on a roll, with an increasing number of Americans leveraging on the record-low mortgage rates. The latest pending home sales data for August reached the highest level on record as more Americans signed contracts to buy homes in the month, suggesting that the hot U.S. housing market will maintain the strong spell well into fall.

All-Time High Pending Home Sales

The National Association of Realtors or NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index — a forward looking indicator of home sales based on contact signing — soared 8.8% from July to 132.8 in August, hitting a record high, according to the NAR survey since January 2001. Contract signings are 24.2% higher from the year-ago period as well.

It is worth mentioning that August marks the fourth consecutive month of gains as well as the third year-over-year rise since the pandemic hit the housing market hard. All four major U.S. regions notched growth in August, with the West seeing the biggest improvement.

Apart from record pending home sales numbers, there were a couple of indicators showing continued strength in the housing market. Last week, the NAR released data that showed that sales of existing homes rose 2.4% in August from July to its highest level since 2006. Sales were up 10.5% from a year ago and back to pre-COVID-19 levels of early 2020. Also, the Commerce Department’s new home sales increased 4.8% in August from July and a remarkable 43% from August 2019.

Meanwhile, the NAR Housing Market Recovery Index indicated that the greatest recoveries have been recorded in the Seattle, Las Vegas, Boston, Denver and Philadelphia areas.

“Tremendously low mortgage rates – below 3% – have again helped pending home sales climb in August,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. The average U.S. mortgage rate for a

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New Home Sales Strongest Since 2006: Top 7 Housing Stocks

Sales of new single-family homes exceeded 1 million in August 2020, marking the highest level since September 2006. The metric, which has been rising for four consecutive months, exceeded analysts’ expectation by 13.6%.

The U.S. housing market has shown a resilient performance over the past few months despite ambivalent market predictions and fears of a second wave of the virus. Not only did the industry offset these COVID-19-related headwinds but also tackled lumber price swings, mortgage delinquencies, U.S.-China trade spat, labor shortage and inflating land prices.

This industry has experienced a strong V-shaped recovery since May and its growth is now exceeding pre-pandemic levels fueled by the work-from-home initiative and record low mortgage rates.

Since May, the Zacks Building Products – Home Builders industry has improved 57.1% compared with the Zacks Construction sector and S&P 500 composite’s 35% and 14.6% rally, respectively.

Inside the Numbers

August new home sales increased 4.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,011,000 from an upwardly-revised July rate of 965,000 units. Also, the sales pace was 43.2% higher than the year-ago period.

Regionally, the metric rose in Northeast and South (accounting for bulk of transactions) by 5% and 13.4%, respectively. Sales in the Midwest and West, however, dropped 21.4% and 1.7%, respectively, in August. Nonetheless, sales in all the four regions increased in double digits from the August 2019 level.

Median sales price in August was $312,800, which fell 4.6% month over month and 4.3% from the year-ago level. Average sales price of $369,000 also declined 0.8% from the prior month and 6% from August 2019.

August housing inventory decreased 3.1% from July and 13.2% from the year-ago period to 282,000. It would take just 3.3 months to deplete the current supply of homes, down from 3.6 months in July and 5.5 months in

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