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New FairPrice budget shops are a step forward

I commend NTUC FairPrice for setting up budget shops to help the low-income group stretch their dollars on food and daily necessities (“NTUC FairPrice launches new retail format for budget-conscious shoppers”; July 1, online).

I commend NTUC FairPrice for setting up budget shops to help the low-income group stretch their dollars on food and daily necessities (“NTUC FairPrice launches new retail format for budget-conscious shoppers”; July 1, online).

This a sign of the labour co-operative supporting the political will and policies of the Government by listening to public feedback and reviving the old socialist ideal of its forerunner, the Welcome Store of the 1970s.

FairPrice is becoming more inclusive in its business models and strategies, rather than forgetting its original mission while penetrating the high-end supermarket domain to amass more financial resources.

Its budget shop is a step forward, rather than hoping that the poor would find it just as pleasant and comfortable to mingle with the rich in posh shopping centres to shop for low-priced daily items.

I am concerned, however, that richer Singaporeans might also want to shop for cheaper goodies in the budget stores. Spartan shopping surroundings — bare cement floor, iron-grille or plywood shelves and no air conditioning — might help to discourage this.

So I hope FairPrice will keep the operating costs down and pass the savings to shoppers.

Having said that, however, I hope FairPrice will not stop at its budget shops but will grow internationally, through a public listing at a later date, to become an iconic brand based on business strategies and not political decisions alone.

I hope it invests in major cities worldwide and competes against the likes of Giant, Target, Walmart, Carrefour, Tesco, et cetera.

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