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Singapore a bridge to South-east Asia for Fung Group

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Merchandisers working in Fung Group's new Singapore office.

HONG Kong's Fung Group, a major player in retail, trade and logistics, is gunning for growth in both South Asia and South-east Asia - and this makes a base in Singapore critical to expansion.

The conglomerate - which includes private businesses as well as listed units such as trading and logistics arm Li & Fung and fashion distributor Global Brands Group - opened its 21,550 sq ft regional headquarters here in January, as it moves to sell more in an increasingly affluent region.

"ASEAN is definitely a region where we see a lot of potential growth and development for the Fung Group," said deputy chairman William Fung. "We continue to see strong domestic demand driving consumption in several markets, which is very promising, and the World Economic Forum predicts that ASEAN will be the world's fifth-largest economy by 2020."

While the group is eyeing the burgeoning consumer market in the region, South-east Asia has also served as a production zone since the 1970s.

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Mr Fung, who is also group chairman of Li & Fung, said: "Having operated in Singapore for more than 40 years, establishing a hub there underscores the Fung Group's long-term commitment to further develop the supply chain industry by leveraging Singapore's strategic location and unparalleled connectivity to many key markets as we continue to grow our business in Singapore and ASEAN.

"It also opens up new opportunities to collaborate with local institutions, industry experts and young talent to enhance our operations and increase our regional and global competitiveness."

In ASEAN, Vietnam and Indonesia were among Li & Fung's top five sourcing countries last year.

"Singapore offers a gateway to the broader region, which is why earlier this year we opened the doors to our new regional headquarters there," said Mr Fung.

Operations in the Republic include idsMED Group, Woh Hup Food Industries and stores for brands from Hang Ten and Stride-Rite to a Toys 'R' Us (Asia) joint venture.

Li & Fung opened an automated, customs-bonded warehouse here in 2016, which it said in its latest annual report has hit full utilisation "much earlier than anticipated".

"We are now looking to develop another built-to-suit facility in Singapore to support future growth," the report added.

Mr Fung said: "As a global leader in supply chain management, we are taking the lead in creating the supply chain of the future - a fully digital end-to-end supply chain - and strengthening our ties with Singapore is an important part of that vision.

"With a strong track record of innovation excellence, Singapore has a thriving startup community and innovation ecosystem (and) a highly skilled and educated workforce available, and, importantly, it has created a business environment where innovation and technology can truly thrive."