30,000 meals no issue at Select kitchen

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam trying his hand at cooking with the conveyor steam oven at Select Group's new headquarters yesterday. Beside him is managing director Vincent Tan.
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam trying his hand at cooking with the conveyor steam oven at Select Group's new headquarters yesterday. Looking on from the extreme left is managing director Vincent Tan.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY
 Mr Vincent Tan from Select Group (third from left), Ms Sim Ann and DPM Tharman viewing the finished product of the steam conveyor oven.
Mr Vincent Tan from Select Group (third from left), Ms Sim Ann and DPM Tharman viewing the finished product of the steam conveyor oven. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY

From its humble beginnings as a Chinese mixed vegetable rice stall, Select Group has flourished to oversee 24 businesses, including Peach Garden and Lerk Thai.

The firm is at the forefront of technological changes encouraged by the new Industry Transformation Map for the food services industry.

Yesterday, it opened its new $60 million headquarters in Senoko, which has a 20,000 sq ft ready meals production kitchen and the capacity to make over 30,000 ready-to-eat meals daily.

This will be a new business arm for the company.

"We did many market studies over the last two years. For countries like China, Japan and Britain, ready meals account for 5 to 7 per cent of the market but it's just 0.5 per cent here. So we see a lot of potential in this market," Select's managing director Vincent Tan said.

The company also invested in additional automation, including an automatic rice cooking line, a conveyor steam oven, conveyor vegetable washers and a bun encrusting machine for bao.

So, now two people can cook 4,000kg of rice each per hour - compared with eight to 10 people to produce the same amount, Mr Tan said. All this will help it double production capacity by 2020, he noted.

Beyond Singapore, Select Group is operating in Malaysia, where it has Hong Kong Sheng Kee Dessert and Pho Street outlets. It aims to expand farther into other South-east Asian countries, with an eye on establishing more than 1,000 F&B outlets, up from about 160 now.

The new headquarters will support staff training, as it has a culinary demonstration kitchen and training institute for in-house courses.

"The labour crunch is something that we cannot deny. Everybody has to change the way they operate and run their F&B services... If not, it will be very tough," he said.

Rennie Whang

Correction Note: An earlier version of this story said that two people can cook 4,000kg of rice. It should be 4,000 portions. This has been corrected.

We also wrongly identified Mr Vincent Tan in the photo caption, He should be the one on the extreme left. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2016, with the headline '30,000 meals no issue at Select kitchen'. Print Edition | Subscribe