President, Franchising and Licensing Association, Mr Andrew Khoo,
Vice Chairman, Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Chandra Mohan Rethnam,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It is my pleasure to join you here today at the opening ceremony of Franchising and Licensing Asia 2020.
2. I am delighted this annual event is taking place despite the challenges posed by COVID-19. Although we are not able to meet in person like in previous years, there are plenty of opportunities for businesses and individuals to be found at this virtual event.
3. This is possible because FLAsia has been able to adapt and successfully pivot to the online space.
a. Convening more than 300 brands each year, FLAsia is among Asia’s top franchising & licensing shows.
b. With its virtual format this year, participants are no longer restricted by physical distance or borders. People from different parts of the world can easily take part.
c. Brand demos and showcases are now just a click away.
4. We are glad that many companies and organisations have heeded the call to evolve their business models and overcome the disruptions caused by the pandemic. I would like to commend everyone who has taken the recent challenges in great stride – from following safe distancing measures to implementing additional protocol and steps to keep our country safe.
5. It has not been easy, but our collective action has helped bring us to where we are today. As we strive towards Phase 3 and a safe re-opening, we will need this solidarity and concerted action to continue. Thank you for all the sacrifices you have made, for us to achieve this progress.
Adapting to Tides of Change and Capturing New Opportunities
6. Today’s event is most timely as businesses have upped their search for new areas of opportunities amid the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Franchising and licensing are key modes of internationalisation that can help companies capture growth opportunities, expand and diversify revenue streams. This is critical in making businesses more resilient to the unforeseen uncertainties caused by the pandemic.
7. Even before today’s event, the Franchising and Licensing Association (FLA) had been hard at work to help its members.
a. In recent months, it organised 8 virtual roundtable sessions for about 80 Singapore franchisors and franchisees to exchange knowledge and ideas on how to cope and adapt amid the pandemic.
b. Topics like streamlining cross-border operations and restructuring internal communications processes were particularly helpful for Singapore companies managing franchisees both domestically and abroad.
c. I urge you to reach out to FLA if you need assistance and resources to adapt and manage your operations in Singapore and abroad.
A Promising Asia-Pacific
8. Last Sunday, 15 nations including Singapore, signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). This significant trade pact between ASEAN, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand will broaden and deepen trade links across the Asia-Pacific. This augurs well for our region and Singapore, especially as we fight the global economic crisis.
a. The RCEP countries account for 30% of the world’s economy and make up a third of the world’s population.
b. The trade agreement will not only smoothen trade in goods and services, it will facilitate the flow of foreign investments and raise protections for e-commerce and intellectual property.
c. In addition, the RCEP will help maintain open and connected supply chains, and strengthen regional peace and security.
We hope these advantages from the RCEP will usher in more franchising and licensing opportunities for Singapore, as well as for our local companies and brands expanding abroad.
9. Our Singapore brands have not stopped their growth plans despite the crisis. I understand that the Jumbo Group, through its franchise partner, has been growing in Vietnam, and will be opening a second outlet there. Another familiar F&B brand Putien, is also planning to expand into Vietnam through franchising.
Positioning Our Companies for Continued Growth
10. To rise above the present challenges, franchisors and franchisees have to increasingly digitalize, constantly attract good talent and stay abreast with training. The government and FLA have put in place schemes and programmes to support businesses in this area.
a. For instance, companies can tap on the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) to digitalise. The government has raised the maximum support level of the grant to 80% for SMEs, for the period of 1 November 2020 to 30 September 2021.
b. Some brands, such as Joe and Dough, have adopted a digital franchise management system, which has not only accelerated their rate of digitalisation, but also allowed for seamless communications between franchisors and franchisees.
11. Having the right talent is critical for business sustainability and growth.
a. The franchising sector is now better placed to groom and attract talent. The FLA has, with the help of Workforce Singapore, launched the Franchising and Licensing Track under the Professional Conversion Programme.
b. This programme supports companies in re-skilling existing manpower and re-deploying them for franchising-related roles.
i. One of the first companies to nominate its employees for the programme is My Gym Singapore.
ii. It hopes to cultivate talent within its team, to support the acquisition of new franchisees around the region and franchise management activities.
iii. To date, many companies have already expressed interest in the programme which starts 14 December 2020.
iv. If you’re interested in this programme, you can find more details from FLA.
c. Besides training manpower, FLA also provides courses to educate business owners on franchise operations.
i. One example is the 3-day WSQ-certified “Essentials of Franchise Management” course that is offered every quarter.
ii. Aspiring franchise owners can tap on their individual SkillsFuture Credit to attend this course.
12. The government is committed to helping businesses and individuals stay relevant and able to reposition themselves for growth.
13. To this end, we will continue to work together with individuals, businesses and associations like the FLA to navigate this crisis as we overcome the challenges to secure a brighter future.
14. I would like to thank FLA for your tireless efforts in promoting franchising and licensing as a means of internationalisation. FLAsia continues to provide an excellent and valuable platform for franchisors and franchisees. The event never fails to uncover new opportunities for those willing to explore and expand the boundaries of their imagination.
15. I wish you a successful event and look forward to the signing of the MOU between FLA and SICCI.
16. Thank you very much.