I received an eight-page brochure yesterday from NTUC FairPrice to announce the opening of its latest FairPricefinest outlet in the heart of the city -- at the newly-opened Scotts Square.
While I am happy that there is yet another outlet nearby for us to shop, it is unlikely that we will be going there often because of the parking charges.
I guess the outlet is to cater to those people who live in the expensive apartment blocks in the vicinity or tourists who stay in the five-star hotels around there.
Although I do not know the size of this outlet, FairPrice must be paying a hefty per square foot rent for the premises.
My curious mind is wondering whether the co-operative is charging the same prices for similar products that are available at its finest outlets elsewhere.
If it does, then it would either be making a lower profit margin or maybe even a loss for such products because of the higher costs. If it does not, then regulars would naturally avoid going there to shop.
Several other questions come to mind:
* Why is the co-op venturing into the upmarket area when it should really be concentrating on the more residential places where the ordinary Singaporeans live?
* Would prices at other finest outlets continue to be reasonably priced if the Scotts outlet does not measure up because of the higher operational costs?
* Is this an indication that the co-op is slowly veering away from its social mission to moderate the cost of living in Singapore?
NTUC Fairprice Co-operative Ltd was founded by the labour movement in 1973 and its first NTUC Welcome supermarket at Toa Payoh was opened by PM Lee Kuan Yew on 22 July 1973.
Ten years later, NTUC Welcome merged with the Singapore Employees Co-operative to form NTUC Fairprice Co-operative Ltd.
FairPrice has since grown to become the largest retailer. Its network of more than 230 outlets include FairPrice supermarkets, FairPrice Finest, FairPrice Xtra, FairPrice Xpress and Cheers convenience stores.
On its website, NTUC FairPrice says it has evolved to make "the dream of living well accessible to everyone by moderating the costs of the good life."
I hope the opening of the Scotts outlet is not an indication that it has forgotten about its social mission.