The Japanese Consumers’ Co-operative Union (JCCU) organized a seven-day study tour for ten young Japanese consumer co-operators to NTUC FairPrice Singapore and Saigon Co.op Vietnam from February 12 to February 18. The tour which began in 2008 is in its tenth year of operation. The purpose of the study tour is to give the young co-operators an opportunity to learn how co-operatives in other countries operate, understand by experiencing how co-operative model is accepted by citizens, and exchanging ideas with the staff of the cooperatives visited. In Singapore, the group visited the head office of NTUC FairPrice, and received briefing on NTUC FairPrice and its group enterprises.
The participants were impressed by NTUC Fairprice’s endeavor to contribute to the community by offering various store formats (Fairprice, Xtra, Finest, Warehouse club and Fairpice shop) to meet varying customer demand. The group visited the NTUC Health Nursing Home, a social enterprise, which provides elder care. NTUC Health Nursing Homes strives to deliver trusted care to the elderly and focuses on active rehabilitation, to enable those with the potential for recovery to return to their home and community. In Vietnam, the participants visited the Saigon Co.op headquarters and were briefed on the history of Saigon Co.op and Coop Mart supermarket chain and their business operations. The group visited two stores, Co-op Mart and Xtra. Xtra is operated as a joint venture hypermarket between Saigon Co.op and NTUC Fairprice. The participants learned that Saigon Co.op focuses on human resource development, such as sending staff overseas to study and utilizing the training center for store staff education. Through the study visit, the participants learned that both NTUC FairPrice and Saigon Co.op have different processes of growth from the Japanese co-operatives, but the philosophy behind the co-operative businesses itself is the same.