Back to top

Speech By Ms Low Yen Ling At The Mystique Of Luxury Brands Singapore Conference 2018

Speech By Ms Low Yen Ling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary For Ministry Of Education And Ministry Of Manpower, At The Mystique Of Luxury Brands Singapore Conference 2018 On Tue, May 8, 2018, 10.00 a.m., Sheraton Towers, Ballroom 2, Level 2

Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS)
Professor Nigel de Bussy, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Curtin University Business School
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

  1. Good morning. I am delighted to join all of you today at this luxury brand symposium for SMEs. This event is the result of a significant collaboration between the commercial and academic worlds. It is conceived by Curtin University from Australia and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), and the Louken Group. The two universities share the common goal of equipping students, businesses and communities through education, while Louken is an active builder of brands for SMEs. Today’s event brings to the table, some of our homegrown SMEs like Hegen, H2 Hub, K.BLU Swim, Royal Insignia, Scanteak, Skin Inc. They will present their insights and experiences of their brand building journey. Such exchanges and joint efforts are key to the successful growth of intellectual property rights, businesses and the economy.
  1. According to the IMF, Asia Pacific is leading the global economic growth, with its economy strengthening at an average rate of 5.4% since 2016. With the exponential rise of the middle-income group, Asia’s middle class will reach close to 3 billion of the world’s nearly five billion middle-class citizens by 2030. This means, six out of every ten persons in the global middle class will live in Asia. Such accelerated economic and socioeconomic growth are significant demand drivers for higher quality products, services and experiences, including those in the high-end luxury business.
  1. The luxury brand sector is a promising growth sector and revenue engine in Singapore. The sector is attracting a growing base of discerning and sophisticated consumers who see Singapore as a destination of choice for superior luxury consumption, retail and dining experiences. This stems from Singapore’s strong brand reputation as a premier cosmopolitan city and trustworthy business hub. The island city has also been consistently ranked as one of the most competitive economies and best places in the world to do business.
  1. As the luxury business sector grows, it will attract an increasing inflow of investments by global brands to boost and expand our local retail industry. Retail is an important industry in Singapore. Despite the rise of challenges like stiff competition from digital marketplaces, the integration of brick-and-mortar and online operations, and skills gaps in both traditional and emerging areas, the sector’s 23,000 establishments have clocked operating receipts of $35 billion. This makes up for 1.4% of Singapore’s GDP in 2016. The Retail Industry Transformation Map (ITM) launched by the government seeks to rejuvenate the sector and position it for the next wave of growth. The Retail ITM envisions an industry supported by a professional and skilled workforce, and where a vibrant mix of highly-productive and omni-channel retailers as well as local brand owners create global footprints. Our homegrown SMEs in this space must adopt new technologies, develop new capabilities and upskill their staff, so as to drive productivity and catalyse the sector’s transformation.
  1. With the growth of the luxury business sector and overall retail industry, there will be more market opportunities for our local companies, as well as employment and upskilling needs to address. We need our local talent pool to become better equipped to serve the retail sector. Institutions with robust applied learning education and a strong social mission such as SUSS, are well-placed to educate and develop talents who can serve and support this industry with competence and passion. For instance, SUSS’ School of Business offers industry-relevant courses like blockchain and business analytics programmes which arm individuals and companies with the ability to leverage emerging tech enablers to grow new business capabilities and eventually, new growth sectors here. SUSS has also partnered strong global and regional enterprises like Alibaba, Lazada and Tencent to support our SMEs and startups to innovate and scale up by acquiring deep industry-backed knowledge and skills.
  1. Curtin University and SUSS have created a platform where our Singapore retailers can tap on the deep expertise of global luxury brands. By learning how global labels brand and market themselves, our homegrown brands can improve their brand storytelling and develop capabilities to enter new markets and grow their international footprints. In Australia, Curtin University has built an impressive track record in nurturing high-growth SMEs. For instance, it has helped many of their local entrepreneurs and small business owners like Gabriel Chocolate and Elmstock Tea to expand.
  1. In order for us to be successful and reap the benefits of the luxury sector, we need to prepare the foundation and resources to expand the sector, both locally and internationally. The new luxury wave will be defined by millennials who seek experience and inspiration beyond physical products, hence innovation will be key to developing a new generation of successful luxury brands. As Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat recently announced, Singapore is being positioned to become the “global Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise”. This gives greater impetus for our local enterprises to innovate and deepen their digital capabilities. Innovations can be in the form of processes, customer experience, product features and digital engagement.
  1. As we welcome the growth and expansion of the luxury brand sector, we must also bear in mind, the environmental and social needs in our midst. I urge all our enterprises and professionals in the luxury sector to pursue and embark on good and meaningful community initiatives that will improve lives. I am heartened that today’s discussion will also explore how luxury brands can exercise corporate social responsibility by way of volunteerism, sponsorship, creating employment and other forms of engagement.
  1. I am confident our homegrown brands have the potential to grow beyond our borders. I look forward to the new possibilities today’s event can bring. I wish you an engaging and productive time of learning. Thank you.
Back to top