Royal Supermarket targets expats

The Royal Supermarket chain opens an outlet meant for expatriates, but its managers say plans for more expansion are on hold because they cannot get the staff

Macau’s largest supermarket chain, Royal Supermarket Co Ltd, has opened its first Supreme Food Market outlet, which is meant to cater to the growing expatriate community.
“Our Royal Supermarkets target mainly Chinese families, but we realised that as there are more casinos, more employees of other nationalities are coming to Macau,” Royal Supermarket’s general manager, Jeff Chang Hing Cheng, told Business Daily at the opening ceremony on Friday.
“They have their own demands for food, but Macau wasn’t catering to them,” Mr Chang said.
The Supreme Food Market is on Taipa, which is popular among expatriate workers.
It has two floors with a combined area of about 460 square metres.
Royal Supermarket has invested between 6 million patacas (US$751,216) and 7 million patacas, in the new outlet.
Mr Chang expects the Supreme Food Market to break even in three years.
Macau had over 110,500 non-resident workers at the end of last year, over 30 percent of the city’s employed labour force, data from the Human Resources Office show.
Mr Chang said the food sold in the Supreme Food Market would be different from the food in Royal Supermarkets.
The outlet will sell goods imported from the West every week.
“This is a pilot scheme. If the feedback we get is good, we will consider setting up a few more stores like this in Macau,” Mr Chang said.
However, he said the city’s labour shortage was an obstacle to further expansion.
“It is relatively difficult for us to hire workers as the employees in this store here should have basic English skills,” he said.

Under pressure

Royal Supermarket was founded in 1997 as a subsidiary of Weng Fung Group, which also has pharmacies here.
Royal Supermarket now has about 500 employees.
But the scarcity of suitable workers is hampering the whole company.
“Our company right now has 27 stores in its chain but we are still lacking about 100 staff. This means our employees have to work overtime,” Mr Chang said.
Royal Supermarket will open its 28th supermarket near the Gongbei border crossing before Lunar New Year.
Mr Chang said this would put even more pressure on its workforce.
The company is negotiating with the government to get permission to hire foreign workers.
“There are few locals who are willing to work in this sector, so we have no other way, Mr Chang said.
The surge in rents that has held back many businesses here does not worry Royal Supermarket as most of its outlets, including the Supreme Food Market,
occupy premises owned by the company.
Mr Chang said Royal Supermarket’s revenue had grown at a “double-digit” rate last year and that its share of the market had risen to about 30 percent from about 20 percent, but he would not be more precise.
“We’re positive on the company’s future as we see a bright future for the retail industry,” he said.
“We will continue to open new stores and introduce some changes to our operating model, including concept stores like Supreme,” he said.
“We have not confirmed new plans yet. We have some properties available but the major factor will be human resources.”