SFI receives UK trade award

MAINBOARD-LISTED Singapore Food Industries (SFI) aims to expand in the UK before eventually setting up in Europe.

SFI’s United Kingdom/ European operations accounted for $199.8 million or 60.3 per cent of the group’s turnover of $331.4 million in the first half of 2007.

‘We see our position in the United Kingdom as being increasingly attractive,’ said SFI chief executive Roger Yeo.

‘We were very small. But through acquisition and organic growth, we’ve become larger. Once we get to a reasonable size within the UK itself, Europe is not a bridge too far.’

SFI’s core areas of business are food distribution, preparation, manufacturing and processing; and abattoir and hog auction services.

Its Singapore businesses employ just over 1,200 people and its UK operation has more than 1,400 employees at three wholly owned subsidiaries – Daniels Chilled Foods, International Cuisine and Farmhouse Fare.

The UK’s chilled convenience food sector is a £12 billion (S$35.8 billion) market – a key factor behind SFI’s choice of the UK as the springboard for its global growth. This promising market was also an influencing factor when SFI chose the UK as a base for international growth 16 years ago.

SFI also has operations in other markets such as China, Australia and Ireland. But Mr Yeo said that plans for venturing into European markets are still in the gestation stage.

SFI will receive the 2007 UK Trade & Investment International Business Award in recognition of its significant strategic and long-term investment in the UK at the British Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Awards Gala Dinner today.

‘In recent years, Singapore companies have been getting more adventurous and looking beyond the region,’ said British High Commissioner to Singapore, Paul Madden. Singapore, which is the UK’s biggest trading partner in South-east Asia, invested about $7.1 billion in the UK in 2005.

‘The SFI success story, with such remarkable growth in a relatively short time span, exemplifies the business growth opportunities that Singapore companies find in the UK,’ said Mr Madden. ‘Such opportunities are not restricted to large companies only but extended to small and medium enterprises as well.’

The UK provides good opportunities to grow business, he said, pointing out that SFI chose it because of a common language, similar legal and business structures and the UK’s reputation as an open economy with pro-business government policies and regulations.

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