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FairPrice will hold prices of 100 private label products stable until June 2020 to reduce the burden of essential groceries on shoppers.

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Dairy Farm has reported its 2018 annual results. Performance of its Health and Beauty segment was strong, but its Food business saw further decline.

Annual sales up 4.1%

Dairy Farm posted sales growth of 4.1% to US$11.7bn for the fiscal ending. Consolidated sales including joint ventures and associates increased 0.6% to US$21.9bn. During 2018, the retailer sold its Giant hypermarket store in Vietnam to Auchan. It also acquired the remaining 51% share in Rose Pharmacy and sold Rustan's in exchange for a 18.25% stake in Robinsons in the Philippines.

Food: large formats struggling, convenience remains robust

Sales from supermarkets and hypermarkets (excluding Yonghui) declined -2.1% to US$5.9bn from previous year in constant currency. Performance of its large formats remain a concern, especially in Southeast Asia. Sales and profits from Giant supermarkets and hypermarkets in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia declined. While supermarket sales in Hong Kong increased, rising rental and labour costs impacted profitability. Sales and profit were also lower in Taiwan. 

Its 7-Eleven convenience business (Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and operations in southern China) reported sales of US$2.1bn, up 4% from previous year in constant currency terms. Operating profit increased by 8% to US$92m. Ready-to-eat continued to drive sales in Hong Kong and Macau, while in mainland China, it surpassed 1,000 stores. 7-Eleven Singapore posted a slight fall in total sales after closing a few stores.

In China, the retailer's key associate business, Yonghui, maintained strong sales momentum and continues be one of the fastest growing retailers in the market. For 2018, it posted sales growth of 23% to US$7.4bn, mainly driven by new store openings.

Health and beauty: sales and profit up

Like the last few years, the Health and Beauty (effectively led by Guardian and Mannings) division performed strongly, with sales increasing 16.9% to US$3bn and operating profit rising 59% to US$334m. It continued to perform strongly in Hong Kong, recorded significant sales increase in Southeast Asia and increased penetration of Beauty and Own Brand.

Home furnishing and restaurants: solid sales growth

Home Furnishings (Ikea in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia) continued to achieve solid sales growth, posting 10.4% growth to US$721m. This was supported by strong ecommerce growth and the opening of a new store in Hong Kong. Further expansion has been outlined, with new stores expected in Indonesia and Taiwan.

Dairy Farm's restaurants business and key associate, Maxim's reported a 15.5% sales increase to US$2.5bn. This was supported by new franchises and mooncake sales surpassing last year's record.

Growing store network

Dairy Farm (including associates and joint ventures) added 2,567 stores to its network, ending 2018 with 9,747 stores. The key growth channels (in store numbers) were convenience (+673), supermarket (+593) and health and beauty (+578).

Future outlook

Looking ahead, the retailer’s multi-year transformation plan is in progress under new leadership. It hopes to see the benefits of restructuring its food business following completion of the strategic review.

Chairman of Dairy Farm, Ben Keswick, said, "With a more customer-focused and market-driven strategy we will stay competitive, improve performance, and achieve long-term sustainable growth. While the group faces significant challenges in the short-term as we reset and reshape the food business as part of the multi-year transformation plan, the group’s other businesses and key associates are performing well and have strong market positions.”

Want to know more?

Asia subscribers can read more on Dairy Farm's Strategic Outlook here.


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NTUC FairPrice launched a new Finest store last week at TripleOne Somerset right along Orchard Road, the famous shopping strip in Singapore. The store highlights different aspects of health and wellness and self-service technologies for shoppers’ convenience.

Wider organic and health food range


The store is visible from the main street and its main entrance opens to a large department of health-focused food. Grain-free paleo baking flour, organic coconut flour and gluten-free kale chips are some of the interesting products that lined the shelves. The retailer has also included several chillers just for organic food including dairy, frozen and fresh vegetables.

Unity pharmacy shop-in-shop


A second entrance to the store from the lobby of the building leads to Unity pharmacy. The retailer is building its wellness concept around “eat well, feel well, live well and look well”. Beauty and personal care items are included in this area as part of the “look well” department.

Technology supporting the store

Technology in-store

Self-service checkouts, self-weighing stations and making the store a click-and-collect point are helping to enhance store efficiency. Electronic shelf labels are also used throughout the store. There is the option of going through a staff for the checkout process, but many shoppers are seen using the self-checkout counters.

Checkout technology

Tesco finest range in the spotlight

Tesco products are exclusive to FairPrice in Singapore. These are seen prominently in end cap displays and the premium cheese island in the centre of the store.

What do we think?

This FairPrice Finest store showcases the retailer’s latest thinking in driving health and wellness to address shoppers’ needs. The inclusion of relevant technology enhances shoppers’ experience and improves productivity. The modern store is a great illustration of some of key trends we have predicted in our Asia outlook report.

Read more about the trends by downloading a free copy of the report here


Tan Soo Eng, Senior Research Manager, IGD Singapore

Soo Eng focuses on Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Singapore, as well as the role of private labels and supermarkets in the Asian grocery market.

RedMart, an online grocery platform, was acquired by Lazada in 2016, but kept it as a separate business until now. It will be integrated into Lazada’s platform in March, allowing shoppers to buy both groceries and other products on Lazada in the same location.

Shoppers will need to download Lazada app

RedMart shoppers can continue using the existing app until 11:59pm on 14th March, before the migration happens. They will then need to have the Lazada app to continue grocery shopping from 15th March. Orders will be fulfilled by Lazada while orders with other sellers from the marketplace will be fulfilled separately.

Expansion outside Singapore

Lazada’s online supermarket plans will extend beyond Singapore. RedMart’s co-founder Roger Egan will lead Lazada's entry into online grocery shopping and delivery network across the region. The retailer will launch at least one more supermarket online in another city for the second half of this year.

What do we think?

We know that online grocery has huge growth potential in Asia, but the growth will vary in different countries, so retailers need to choose where they invest wisely. The competition is fluid and partnerships often drive growth into new countries. RedMart’s grocery experience in Singapore, coupled with Lazada’s strong network in Southeast Asia, puts the retailer is in a great position to expand into new markets.

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