Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Opening of FairPrice Hub on 16 September 2015.
Mr Bobby Chin, Chairman of NTUC FairPrice
Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen
I am delighted to join you for the opening of the FairPrice Hub. Especially delighted that this is my first formal function after the General Election results. The union movement have had a very close symbiotic relationship with the PAP government and this is a small token and small indication that this continues very much to be the case.
NTUC FairPrice has played an important role in our nation building. The First Welcome supermarket was launched in Toa Payoh, fourty plus years ago in 1973 and Mr Lee Kuan Yew himself opened it. He said in his opening address, “You will get more value for your money buying here. Further, you should also get a return of 5-10% back every year on your purchase. And the more shares you buy into the Co-op the more you will get back.” That is the mission of NTUC FairPrice, the successor of Welcome. To help keep the cost of living low, to give Singaporeans assurance that they can always obtain essential goods at retail outlets at a fair prices and to give Singaporeans a stake in its enterprise. FairPrice does this without special priviledges from Government, competing with other players in the free market.
So it is remarkable that NTUC FairPrice has become a household name in Singapore, while fulfilling its mission as a social enterprise. It is the largest supermarket chain we have with almost 300 outlets and stores in different retail formats like FairPrice supermarkets, FairPrice Finest, FairPrice Xtra hypermarkets – there is one of those very good ones in Ang Mo Kio Hub – and we alsp have Cheers convenience stores. FairPrice continues to give Singaporeans a fair deal and keep prices affordable. It does so through through ‘Everyday Low Price’ items for a basket of 1,000 items and its own house brands. It offers special discounts to pioneers to honour their contributions to the Singapore. It gives rebates and dividends to more than 700,000 members, amounting to more than $460 million for the past 10 years. All these while holding its own against competition from other retail players, without compromising in its service and keeping up with the changing and wide-ranging needs of consumers. So if you want wine, you can get wine. If you want abalone, you can get abalone. But if you need rice, essentials, staples, there are many different kinds all the way from housebrands which are very good to premium Japanese rice if you are cooking sushi.
NTUC FairPrice is a good example of our social enterprise model. A successful business and yet with a social conscience and more so with a social mission, sharing the benefits of progress widely, able to compete with global players in a free market.
We are opening the FairPrice Hub today. A state-of-the art building, which reflects the forward-planning of NTUC FairPrice as an organisation. It is environmentally sustainable. The building has been awarded the BCA Green Mark Platinum. It uses advanced technology to enhance FairPrice’s efficiency including a high-tech Distribution Centre which is highly automated, using robots and automated vehicles for warehousing operations. There is something for everyone in this FairPrice hub. For the workers, a training institute to help them to upgrade. For consumers, NTUC’s first Warehouse Club which is a membership-only retail warehouse in Singapore for groceries and household goods like what you will find in US, Australia, Japan, Korea which provides deep discounts for customers buying in bulk.
I would like to congratulate the Board, Management and staff for making NTUC FairPrice a role model for social enterprises. I also welcome Mr Bobby Chin’s announcement that FairPrice will pledge another $50 million to the FairPrice Foundation over the next five years to help the needy and to promote community bonding. I am confident that FairPrice will continue to thrive in the years to come, with the continued support of shareholders, management, staff, business stakeholders and community partners. So keep up the good work and wish you every success. Thank you very much!
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