FairPrice Group celebrates 50th anniversary with pledge to moderate cost of living
FairPrice Group celebrated its 50th anniversary on Saturday with a pledge to moderate the cost of living for Singaporeans. It will do so by setting the benchmark for prices of daily staples and keeping food and essentials within reach of consumers and readily available, said group chief executive Vipul Chawla on Saturday.
Singapore’s largest retailer and social enterprise has returned more than $780 million to the community since 2019 in the form of discounts, rebates and donations.
To mark its 50th year, FairPrice Foundation also donated $50 million to the Health for Life Fund, which will benefit seniors, especially those in the lower-income group. This is the largest amount FairPrice Foundation has donated to date.
At its gala dinner at Marina Bay Sands on Saturday, FairPrice Group presented the guest of honour, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, with the book The Price Of Being Fair, produced to commemorate the company’s golden jubilee.
The book tells the story of Singapore’s top grocery retailer, from the opening of the first store in Toa Payoh in 1973, to becoming a food enterprise with a turnover of $4.3 billion.
The FairPrice Group’s proceeds from the sale of the book will go to community programmes.
Speaking to some 2,000 guests at the event, PM Lee recalled how the first NTUC supermarket was opened by the Government in 1973 during a period of sharp global inflation, when food prices in Singapore rose by more than 40 per cent in a year.
“Its social mission was to moderate the cost of living by providing a range of essential products at competitive prices,” he said.
While standards of living have gone up, FairPrice has stood by its mission to keep prices affordable, helping to assure Singaporeans during periods of uncertainty such as the Covid-19 pandemic, he said. When export restrictions on necessities led to panic buying, he said, FairPrice’s strategy of stockpiling, forward buying, and diversifying import sources helped to overcome supply disruptions.
It also rolled out a FairPrice on Wheels programme during the circuit breaker, when it had vans deliver daily essentials to residents in selected estates.
“These actions went beyond ensuring that we had sufficient supplies. More importantly, they gave convincing assurance to Singaporeans that daily necessities were still available, and that we would be all right,” said PM Lee.
Beyond the pandemic, he said, consumers today enjoy discounts through value programmes like the “Greater Value Every Day” campaign in which FairPrice controls price increases on popular essentials, and also gives a special 50 per cent discount on selected items weekly.
He cited how FairPrice extended the Pioneer Generation, Merdeka Generation and Chas Blue discount schemes in 2022, and saved customers over $11.5 million.
FairPrice also absorbed the GST increase on 500 essential items from January to June in 2023, he added.
“Singaporeans know they can count on FairPrice to ensure that their basic necessities will always be available, and always be affordable. This gives a great deal of psychological reassurance and comfort, especially in uncertain times,” PM Lee said.
He noted that while FairPrice Group is a social enterprise, it is also operating as a business in a market economy, having to pay rent, wages, and taxes along with other commercially run supermarkets. “It therefore has to work doubly hard to continually reinvent itself and stay ahead of competition.”
PM Lee also pointed to FairPrice Group’s digitalisation efforts in partnering Standard Chartered to launch Trust Bank, Singapore’s first all-digital bank last September. This has allowed the more than half a million customers who signed up to enjoy more savings and a more seamless shopping experience, he said.
Mr Kee Teck Koon, chairman of FairPrice Group, said: “As we look back at the 50 years of endeavours and achievements, we remain true to our purpose – moderating the cost of living for all in Singapore and supporting the vulnerable in our community.”
Mr Vipul said: “Behind every step made by FairPrice Group lies our social mission beyond commercial considerations. FPG has chosen trade-offs on our bottom line in the last five decades so that we can keep our way of life in Singapore and serve the vulnerable among us, and this will remain the same.
“Like the National Trades Union Congress, we believe that the people we serve cut across different ages and stages of life, and we will continue to stay grounded even as we prepare for our next phase of growth and transformation.”