Mr Ernie Koh, President, Singapore Retailers Association,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good evening. It is my pleasure to join you here at the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) 21st Retail Awards Gala Dinner.
2. This is the first Retail Awards Gala Dinner held since the pandemic struck. I would like to congratulate SRA not only forhosting this evening’s event after a two-year hiatus but also for steering the retail sector through the most challenging two and a half years.
3. Indeed, we are seeing the retail sector make a strong recovery. This year’s total retail salesfor up to Augustare 15% higher compared to the same period last year.
4. As the sector rebounds, we want to ensure that businessescontinue to grow, transform and thrive in the new normal.
a. You would be aware that we launched the Retail Industry Transformation Map (ITM) 2025 last month. Developed together with the SRA Council and retail industry stakeholders, the refreshed ITM outlines our vision to strengthen Singapore as a global lifestyle and retail hub.
5. Allow me to share with you three key “R”s which I believe will help us reach our common goal of a strong and vibrant retail ecosystem. They are: “Rejuvenate, Reinvent and Reskill”.
6. First, by constantly rejuvenatingour retail scene with fresh offerings, we can strengthen our position as a global lifestyle and retail hub.
7. We all know that retail is no longer just about selling or buying a product. It’s also about the customer’s end-to-end experience with the brand. Creating brand experiential stores or offering novel experiential concepts and products or services add to the vibrancy of the local retail scene and are important to continue attracting local and global consumers.
a. One of the retailers to do this successfully is B.P de Silva Jewellers. Its flagship boutique store now boasts of an exclusive Drawing Room where clients can experience the process of a bespoke jewellery design first-hand and personalise their designs.
8. To foster a vibrant retail ecosystem, we will continue to position Singapore as the place where global retail brands want to be.
a. For example, we have established global fashion and apparel brands here in Singapore, such as French luxury goods company LVMH and American athletic apparel company Nike.
b. Popular brands such as Decathlon have been expanding their presence here too. In July this year, it launched the regional Decathlon Data Lab, which serves to incubate new digital products and solutions. Decathlon now has over 15 physical stores in Singapore.
c. Besides setting up shop in Singapore, overseas brands can also partner with local brands for fresh synergy and marketing power. For example, Australian brand Cotton On and popular local snack brand IRVINS co-launched merchandise featuring the IRVINS logo and duck mascot to target a bigger pool of consumers.
d. Partnerships like these help companies increase brand awareness and widen their outreach to a bigger pool of consumers. They also enhance the unique offerings of our local brands.
9. Second, our retail sector must continually reinvent itself to be globally competitive.
10. Product innovation is akey ingredient that retailers must possess to differentiate themselves from global competitors.
a. MTI is committed to supporting the efforts of our retail companies to enhance their product development and design capabilities. We also want to see more brand owners. SMEs and promising startups succeed.
b. For instance, to help our enterprises innovate, EnterpriseSGhas beefed up the capacity of centres such as Singapore Polytechnic’s (SP) Consumer Chemicals Technology Centre (CCTC) to support more SMEs in developing new product innovations in beauty and personal care. An interesting product is the unisex fragrance SPLASH, which was developed in commemoration of SP’s 60th anniversary.
11. One promising area for innovation that retailers can seize upon is sustainability. Increasingly, consumer choices are being determined or influenced by how sustainable a product is or whether its production was earth-friendly. Retailers that recognise and respond to this opportunity will find a competitive edge.
a. I encourage you to explore the Enterprise Sustainability Programme (ESP) which supports companies in developing capabilities to create sustainable products as well as helps them pursue sustainable business models.
12. Last but not least, to keep our retail sector vibrant and growing, we must continue to investin people. The quest to reskillourworkforce so that they are well-equipped to take on new, quality job roles must never stop.
13. During the pandemic, many retailers adapted quickly, digitalised and adopted e-commerce platforms. Workers were taught digital skills and e-commerce operations.
a. Workforce Singapore (WSG) rolled out the first iteration of the Career Conversion Programme (CCP) for the retail sector during the pandemic. This helped companies redesign job roles for their workforce and to reskill them to take on new job roles. Over 30 retail companies and 600 workers participated in this programme.
b. WSG will recognisethese employers for their efforts by awarding them the Commendation for Workforce Resilience certificates. Two of these companies, Decathlon and Seager, which had reskilled the most number of workers, will also be receiving the Workforce Resilience Award.
14. In the post-pandemic new normal, jobs and roles will continue to evolve with technology, shifting borders and new patterns of consumption.
a. I urge you to tap on WSG’s training programmes and other government support schemes to keep your employees nimble with up-to-date skills that will enable your business to go on to new heights.
15. In closing, if we keep practising these 3 ”Rs” of Rejuvenating, Re-inventing and Re-Skilling the retail sector, I am certain thatfresh possibilities will be created for our Singapore brands and shops to thrive in the future.
16. Together with SRA, we will press on to create a vibrant lifestyle scene for Singaporeans and global consumers.
17. My heartiest congratulations to all the award winners tonight.Your achievements are a celebration and mark of our retail sector’s innovation, creativity and excellence.
18. I wish everyone an enjoyable evening ahead. Thank you.