Mr Edward Liu, Managing Director of CEMS
Mr Ho Nai Chuen, President, Singapore Jewellers Association
Ms Ko Lee Meng, Honarary Secretary, Singapore Jewellers Association
HE Suryo Pratomo, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Singapore and Ibu Noeri Widowati
Ms Anastuty Kusumowardhani, Chief Representative, Bank Indonesia, Singapore Rep Office
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to the opening ceremony of the Singapore International Jewelry Expo (SIJE) 2021.
2. The SIJE 2021 is the first large-scale B2B jewellery event since the onset of COVID-19. The last SIJE was in 2019, nearly 2 years ago. I am delighted to be able to join you in person today. This expo provides a timely opportunity for our Singapore-based jewellery players to showcase new and beautiful products to local and overseas trade buyers. It's also an ideal platform to connect, gain new insights and exchange ideas on emerging trends in the jewellery trade.
3. With less discretionary spending amid dampened consumer sentiments and low tourist arrivals, COVID-19 has affected the retail trade, including our local jewellery and watches sector. Nevertheless, the sector has seen some recovery this year, and with a close eye on the Omicron variant, we hope to see improved business performance in the coming year-end festive season.
Key to recover: Enhancing branding, digital and sustainability efforts
4. According to a report by the Business of Fashion and McKinsey, the global fine jewellery industry is set to grow at 3 to 4 percent per year between 2021 and 2025, with branded fine jewellery in Asia leading the growth at 10 to 14 percent annually.
5. Despite the multiple disruptions and constant uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, I am heartened that many companies have embarked on business transformation efforts in the areas of branding, digitalisation and sustainability. This commendable resilience will help them keep up with evolving trends and consumer preferences.
6. Firstly, it is important for our local players to invest in building a distinctive brand with strong unique selling points (USPs). With branded fine jewellery projected to grow approximately three times faster than the total jewellery(?) market, international brands such as Tiffany & Co and Cartier could potentially gain market share against local players. Hence, brand-building efforts such as crafting an authentic brand story that resonates has become more important than ever for our home-grown companies. In addition, local brands will do well to continue, on the path of innovation – from product and design, to service offerings and even developing different sub-brands or product line to target different types of consumers. Catering to the preferences of various customers by differentiating product development and marketing efforts can pay off. In recent years, some local jewellers have launched new sub-brands. For instance, Canary Diamond’s, ByCanary and Ngee Soon Jewellery’s Mistgold are successfully attracting the younger, more fashion-conscious millennial consumers.
7. In the past 2 years, the pandemic has accelerated the speed of digitalisation for many businesses. This shift will continue to gain traction and become the new normal. One company that has successfully pivoted online is the SK Jewellery Group, which owns the SK Jewellery and Love & Co brands. SK Jewellery has expended extensive efforts to fine-tune its omni-channel experience. Today, it has optimised delivery routes for e-commerce orders and customers are able to book an appointment for in-store consultations. Global online fine jewellery sales is expected to grow from 13 percent to 21 percent of the total market by 2025. To capture this attractive opportunity, local jewellery retailers can look into exploiting digital platforms to create better customer experiences, as well as innovate to better engage customers online and offline too.
8. Last but not least, consumers are increasingly conscious of the impact of climate change these days. Sustainability will play an important role in their buying decisions. Purchases influenced by the sustainability practices of companies will continue to grow in the years ahead. This presents an opportunity for the jewellery industry to contribute and make tangible strides towards environment and social goals. As enterprises integrate sustainability into their businesses, they can gain competitive advantages in improved reputation and employee engagement.
9. One of our local heritage brands, B.P. de Silva Jewellers has made ethical and sustainable practices part and parcel of their business. It is also in the process of becoming Singapore’s (and potentially Asia’s) first B.Corp certified jeweller. B.Corp businesses are those that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance. In addition, the company is moving towards instituting a more transparent and traceable supply chain. We are glad to hear too, that B.P de Silva is working to craft all its collections in Fairmined Gold – which is gold that comes from responsible artisanal and small-scale mining organisations.
10. To companies that have already embarked on this transformation journey, I hope these examples of local companies will encourage you to persevere in your efforts to develop a unique brand proposition, digitalise and adopt sustainable practices. For those who have yet to start, it’s not too late to get onboard. For a start, you can tap on available government schemes that help you digitalise your business, or approach a Business Advisor at any SME Centre for advice. Or, go to the GoBusiness governmental portal at https://www.gobusiness.gov.sg to check out the e-Adviser for Government Assistance. With a couple of clicks and answers to a few simple questions, you will receive a recommendation on the types of assistance and programmes suitable for your business need. From early next year, businesses will be able to access a personalised dashboard on the GoBusiness portal. With that, you will get an overview of your ongoing and past government applications, as well as direct access to over 300 Government-to-Business services.
How the Government will continue to support the Jewellery Industry
11. The Government is sparing no effort to support our enterprises on this transformation journey.
12. In October, ESG launched the Enterprise Sustainability Programme (ESP) in October to support Singapore businesses in their sustainability initiatives and to help them capture new opportunities in the green economy. The programme will offer training workshops, capability and product development projects, and key enablers such as certification and financing.
13. In addition, the Government also ensures that the current regulatory system continues to support innovative or novel business ideas to boost business growth. MTI’s Pro-Enterprise Panel (PEP) works closely with public agencies to provide timely, effective, and practical solutions to cut the red tape and address regulatory concerns that businesses may face. So far, more than half of the over 2000 suggestions received by PEP have translated to actual regulatory changes that benefited businesses. If you have any suggestions for improving current regulations or have a novel business idea to testbed, we welcome your feedback and look forward to you writing to the PEP.
14. As we forge ahead towards the future despite the current challenges, I am certain that many of our enterprises have the resilience and tenacity to emerge from this crisis like shining pearls. I trust that at this iconic platform you will discover promising and outstanding brands, new designs and product innovations that inspire you to higher heights. I hope SIJE will continue to build on its current successes to further establish itself as a flagship event of the jewellery industry for years to come.
15. I wish you all a scintillating and successful expo.
16. Thank you.