The price of being fair and the importance of diversification

The morning continued with a virtual fireside chat between Vipul Chawla, Group Chief Executive Officer of retailer FairPrice Group and Ernie Koh, President of the Singapore Retailers Association.

FairPrice Group comprises several food retailers including FairPrice, Kopitiam, Foodfare and Link Social Enterprises. The Group has over 570 touchpoints across the island and employs almost 13,000 staff, with an annual turnover of over $4.5 billion.

Chawla explained that FairPrice’s core focus was on delivering convenience and value. “Over 50 years, our business has evolved.”

Koh began by asking Chawla about the FairPrice journey so far, specifically serving their community through food innovation and diversification.

Chawla spoke about the diverse range of food businesses under the FairPrice banner, and the importance of diversifying for growth.

Firstly, FairPrice, founded by the labour movement in 1973, aimed to moderate the cost of living in Singapore. From one small supermarket, it has grown to become a leading retailer in Singapore serving more than half a million shoppers daily through a network of over 370 outlets.

The business comprises of FairPrice supermarkets, FairPrice Finest, FairPrice Xtra, FairPrice Shop, Cheers convenience stores, FairPrice Xpress, and Unity pharmacy. Its e-commerce portal draws over 700,000 visitors monthly. FairPrice also owns a Fresh Food Distribution Centre and a centralised warehousing and distribution company.

Secondly, starting in 1988, Kopitiam strived to bring the “True Singapore Taste” to customers by making available favourite ‘local dishes’ conveniently. In 2018, FairPrice acquired Kopitiam to further strengthen its value proposition, by making familiar cooked food affordable in a clean environment.

Thirdly, Foodfare has established itself as a major player in the Institutional Catering and Food Manufacturing businesses. FoodFare today serves more than 16 million meals a year to various commercial and governmental organisations such as hospitals, childcare centres and nursing homes.

The Food Manufacturing Division comprises a central kitchen that produces more than 1.5 million food products every year. Product lines include a wide range of halal-certified products, from ready-to-eat meals to customised food products for major Food and Beverage brands, and extensive bakery and hot kitchen products, such as pizzas, sandwiches, cakes and breads, as well as sauces and pastes.

Finally, NTUC Link Private Limited was created in 1998 to help Singaporeans stretch their dollar on everyday expenses through daily essential and lifestyle rewards. Link is one of Singapore’s most successful coalition rewards programmes, reaching 2.4 million members and comprising over 150 partners across 1,000 outlets.

Today, Link is a multi-channel customer engagement platform that delivers value to merchants and consumers through advanced data-driven marketing.

In November 2019, the “4 Social Enterprises”, including FairPrice, Foodfare, Kopitiam and Link, came together under the FairPrice Group. The Mission was to serve the people of Singapore in meeting their needs under the Everything Food Made Easy philosophy.

Today, they serve over 2 million customers across more than 100 outlets.

Chawla concluded that diversification for FairPrice was important because it helped the business spread its risk across different areas, reducing dependency on a single market or product.



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