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NTUC FairPrice wins two major awards for management excellence

It was recognised for executive of the year and COVID management initiatives.

The supermarket giant bagged two of the major prizes in the recently concluded Singapore Business Review Management Excellence Awards.

NTUC Fairprice Co-operative Pte. Ltd. won the Executive of the year – Retail award for the leadership of FairPrice Group’s Group CEO Seah Kian Peng, and COVID Management Initiative of the Year - Retail award for the company’s efforts in keeping up with the changes brought about by the pandemic in employee management.

The annual awards programme recognises excellent executives, innovators and teams, as well as HR and company initiatives that promote the well-being of employees.

The scourge of COVID-19 afflicted lives and livelihoods, with the retail industry and in particular supermarkets and pharmacies facing the full brunt of the impact. But this only strengthened Seah Kian Peng’s resolve to ensure FairPrice fulfills its social mission of providing affordable daily essentials regardless of COVID-19.

At the height of the pandemic, he knew FairPrice had to act nimbly to ensure it could continue providing groceries for the community. Its pre-emptive strategy to diversify its sources ensured a stable supply of daily essentials at affordable prices remained available, regardless of the pandemic.

Despite operational disruptions caused by the pandemic, the Group CEO had the foresight to upgrade various aspects of the business - from warehouse expansions, online grocery infrastructure upgrades, driving optimisation and investing in data analytics to better forecast and plan its supply chain management.

These initiatives generated greater efficiency and productivity. Amidst the pandemic, FairPrice also launched its Supply Chain Operations Centre (SCope) to provide end-to-end visibility and real-time insights to pre-empt potential disruptions and to facilitate critical decision-making.

He likewise spearheaded the extension of the price freeze of the 100 most popular housebrand everyday essentials from the 1st of July to 31st of Dec 2020. This reaffirms FairPrice’s commitment to hold prices, and helps cushion Singaporeans against potential price hikes, regardless of changes in supply, socio-economic factors and external factors that could affect food prices.

In all, over $15m was saved through the price freeze initiative from March 2019 to December 2020, with $6.7m in savings provided through the extension from 1st of July to 31st December 2020.

The major initiative that bagged the COVID Management Initiative award for the company was the FairPrice on Wheels community initiative launched in April 2020.

It aimed to enhance accessibility of daily essentials at selected mature estates in Singapore with a higher concentration of low-income seniors through specially outfitted grocery vans.

The concept came about following reports that there was a growing concern that seniors were unable to get groceries due to limited mobility and diminished support from volunteers and social service organisations during the Circuit Breaker period. The idea was also inspired by bread trucks, fondly known as “loti chia” in Hokkien, which seniors could identify with, when merchants used to drive vans around various estates in Singapore back in the day selling groceries and sundries.

Launched during the height of the pandemic, FairPrice on Wheels grocery vans were deployed to 11 locations across Singapore, mainly in mature HDB estates.

The vans brought basic essentials like bread, rice, toilet paper, canned goods and vegetables, right to the doorstep of seniors living in ageing HDB estates.

The programme ran till October where it was progressively phased out after having achieved its objective of providing daily essentials during the national lockdown.

However, due to popular demand, FairPrice reintroduced an enhanced version of the initiative in November 2020.

This time round, a truck was outfitted with a refrigeration system which enabled it to carry a wider variety of about 200 different types of products including fresh fruits and vegetables, to chilled and frozen products.

To ensure a good range of better valued items, about 40 percent of the products are also housebrand products to help customers stretch their dollar further.

Beyond this, the enhanced truck is also large enough for customers to walk in and pick out items themselves, just like they would do in a supermarket.

The truck currently serves five locations - Bukit Purmei Road, Telok Blangah Rise, West Coast Road, Clementi West St 2 and Kaki Bukit Community Centre.

Earlier this year, apart from the usual five locations which the FairPrice on Wheels truck serves, the truck also caters to special requests.

For example, it was deployed to a residential area in Punggol for two days in early June due to the temporary closure of a nearby supermarket, and at another area in Bukit Merah when the nearby wet market was closed due to a localised outbreak of COVID-19.

This provided much needed convenience and accessibility to essential food for the community living in these areas.

The truck was also deployed at Changi General Hospital following the announcement of an emerging COVID-19 cluster at the vicinity to support the medical staff by providing them with convenient access to groceries.

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