SPEECH BY MINISTER OF STATE FOR TRADE & INDUSTRY AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT MR LEE YI SHYAN AT THE SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL JEWELLERY SHOW 2012 ON 12 JULY 2012, 10.15AM AT MARINA BAY SANDS
Honourable Anura Priydarshana Yapa, Sri Lankan Minister for Environment
Mr Ho Nai Chuen, President of the Singapore Jewellers Association
Mr Edward Liu, Managing Director of Conference and Exhibition Management Services Pte Ltd
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning. I am pleased to join you at the opening of the Singapore International Jewellery Show (SIJS) 2012. In particular, I would like to extend a warm welcome to our guests from overseas.
The Jewellery Sector in Singapore
The jewellery sector is an evolving one. Innovations in this industry take many forms. New designs, materials, creative combination of precious stones and metals are some of the ways the industry injects “creativity” and “innovation” in their products. The industry also seeks to differentiate on branding and life-style propositions, in addition to jewellery as investments.
Globally, the jewellery industry is growing, with most of the foreseeable growth generated out of Asia. The region has emerged as a hub for diamond and precious stones cutting, gold production and trading, leveraging on the low labour costs, skilful craftsmen and abundant resources.
India is currently the world’s largest consumer of gold jewellery and the global hub for diamond-cutting and -polishing. It is also the third largest consumer of polished diamonds, behind the US and Japan. In March 2011, India’s jewellery exports rose from about US$29 million in January 2009 to US$43 million1.
Greater China, which comprises Mainland China and Hong Kong, is the second largest jewellery market in Asia, closely behind India. In 2011, China’s jewellery exports totalled $27.5 billion, up 123 per cent from 20102.
Another key jewellery market in the region is Japan. The country is currently the third largest consumer of polished diamond and one of the world’s leading consumers of gold, precious stones and studded jewellery. We can expect the Asian jewellery trade to grow further in the next few years.
Given its strategic location, Singapore jewellers are well placed to serve the growing and exciting Asian jewellery market, provided that we define our niches, continue to innovate, build new capabilities and strengthen our operations. I would like to suggest the following areas of capacity-building for our industry:
First, to build on their in-house design capability. Design is key to product generation and differentiation. Design capability in turn comes from solid craftsmanship and the intimate understanding of customers’ preferences.
Local jewellery retailers, for instance, Goldheart, has taken steps in that direction. Last year, Goldheart launched the Ascente collection – jewellery pieces featuring emerald-shaped diamonds, in response to the growing trend of consumers desiring jewellery that come in modern and unique designs. Our other leading jewellers such as Soo Kee Jewellery, Aspial-Lee Hwa, Poh Heng and Tian Po all have their in-house design teams.
To help firms build in-house design capabilities, Design Singapore Council, SPRING and IE Singapore provide a suite of capability programmes. For instance, jewellers can tap on the generous Productivity & Innovation Credit (PIC) for investment spending in design. Jewellery companies such as Aspial-Lee Hwa Jewellery and SK Jewellery have tapped on this scheme to conduct design research and develop innovative new collections.
Raising Productivity Through Service & Technology Initiatives
Secondly, firms should review their business processes. They should ask if there are ways to improve processes to reduce waste, improve yield, raise the level of customer service and enhance customers’ loyalty.
A case in point is local jeweller Soo Kee. In 2009, it set out on an 18-month service quality project with the help of SPRING Singapore’s Customer-Centric Initiative (CCI). It began by upgrading its customer relationship management (CRM) system to capture customers’ purchasing profiles. This allowed them to customise preview parties and product launches. This adoption of technology also led to higher customer satisfaction which translated into higher sales and profits.
The third is technology adoption. Consider mobile commerce-enabled sites which allow consumers to browse, search and buy products, as well as find nearby store locations. Investments in mobile commerce capability will allow companies to tap into the growing market of affluent consumers who shop through mobile devices. One can check out e-bay jewellery sale site, for instance, to see its rising popularity.
More firms in Singapore are experimenting with technology to raise productivity. For instance, some jewellers are already exploring the feasibility of using radio-frequency identification (RFID) to improve inventory management and store-front stock-taking.
Fourthly, we should strengthen our public-private sector collaboration as a source of competitiveness for our industry. Recently, the Singapore Jewellers Association and SPRING have come together to develop the “Singapore Standard on Specification for Fineness and Marking for Articles of Precious Metals”. We are confident that the new standard, expected to be ready by the fourth quarter of this year, will further enhance the professionalism and trust in Singapore’s jewellery industry, especially against growing global competition.
In conclusion, I encourage you to continue to build on Singapore’s established reputation of trust, quality and reliability. Together, we will continue to create value by innovation. We should strive to understand our customers and their changing preferences as well as provide excellent service to them. I wish you great success at SIJS 2012. Thank you.
1 Source: India’s Gem & Jewellery Promotion Council (http://www.gjpec.org)
2 Source: Gems & Jewellery Trade Association of China (http://www.jewellerynewsasia.com/en/China/4909/Shenzhen-jewellers-go-overseas.html)