Cold Storage flagship store reopens

Madam Jennifer Lee has been working at Cold Storage's flagship store at The Centrepoint for 44 years. She may have retired, but the 65-year-old still works for the supermarket chain as a cashier supervisor on a contract basis.
Madam Jennifer Lee has been working at Cold Storage's flagship store at The Centrepoint for 44 years. She may have retired, but the 65-year-old still works for the supermarket chain as a cashier supervisor on a contract basis.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

When Madam Jennifer Lee started work at Cold Storage's flagship Orchard Road store in 1972, she was paid a daily rate of $4 to man the baggage check counter.

After 44 years at the supermarket, where she has tried her hand at serving up ice cream, managing orders and ringing up goods, Madam Lee, 65, is The Centrepoint outlet's longest-serving employee.

And she shows no signs of stopping. Despite having retired, she continues to work for the supermarket chain as a cashier supervisor on a contract basis.

"I have a lot of regular customers; as long as I can keep doing this, I will stay," she said.

Yesterday, Singapore's oldest supermarket officially reopened its flagship store at The Centrepoint after nearly two years of renovations. The store has more ready-to-eat food items, as well as a dine-in area.

The chain's Takashimaya store also reopened after a four-month revamp, with a wider selection of Japanese products.

Cold Storage, which has 43 supermarkets here, was formed in Singapore in 1903 by a group of European and Australian merchants to provide cold storage and distribution of frozen meats and fresh food supplies.

It opened its first retail store in Orchard Road in 1905, where Orchard Point is now, before moving next door to Centrepoint Shopping Centre in 1983. The mall, now owned by Frasers Centrepoint, was developed by the Cold Storage Group.

Madam Lee has fond memories of the old days, when hawkers would fill the outdoor carpark opposite with their pushcarts in the evenings.

The check-out counter, where she spent the bulk of her time, required quick mental calculations before it was automated. But it quickly became her favourite station, as she enjoyed meeting new people and talking to customers, some of whom still visit the store.

"There was one customer who used to come with her young children, and now she has grandchildren," said Madam Lee.

Cold Storage chief executive officer Victor Chia said the supermarket chain's Centrepoint outlet holds memories for shoppers and employees.

"Our very first store was in the next building... That's why coming back to where we started is important," said Mr Chia.

Madam Suzie Lee, 53, who has shopped at the Centrepoint store for over a decade, said that she was glad that the store has reopened.

"It's less crowded than the Takashimaya store, and the staff are friendly," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2016, with the headline 'Cold Storage flagship store reopens'. Print Edition | Subscribe