“Meidi-Ya is a household name in Japan and has 36 stores across the country,” said Nagoshi Shuji, managing director of Meidi-Ya Singapore. The upmarket grocery chain was founded by Isono Hakaru in Tokyo in 1885 and has a reputation for quality.
“Upholding Meidi-Ya Japan’s motto of ‘The Highest Quality for Everyone, Every time’, Meidi-Ya’s Singapore store will also be dedicated to delivering a wide variety of quality fresh food imported directly from Japan, for an authentic Japanese supermarket shopping experience.”
The new Meidi-Ya location spans two floors, with a food hall and a bakery on the first floor and the Japanese supermarket on the second floor.
On the first floor, visitors will see the Hokkaido Dosanko Plaza stand, featuring cakes, ice cream, beverages and other snacks like the famous Shiroi Koibito biscuits and melon-flavoured pocky imported from Hokkaido. The section includes other sweets like the Basque cheesecakes and chocolate mochi.
All products come with the label Dosanko to signify that they originate from Hokkaido and are supported and endorsed by the Hokkaido International Trade and Industry Association.
Next to the Hokkaido Dosanko Plaza is Chef Yamashita, which features the Japanese artisan patisserie bakery’s famous cakes and pastries.
The 88-seat food hall
A variety of authentic Japanese foods can also be found in the first floor’s food hall, where visitors can order sashimi brought in by Nakajima Suisan, Japan’s largest fish supplier, and Sapporo Nishiyama Ramen.
With seating for 88, the food hall is the first Japanese concept café and bar in Meidi-Ya Singapore, since the retailer’s other location is much smaller than the Millenia Walk store.
“Diners can grab an organic free trade coffee at its café terrace, or unwind with ice cold beer or sake at its alfresco beer garden,” Shuji said.
“Shoppers can also purchase food items from the international supermarket and enjoy them at the seating areas available on the first floor.”
Singapore is the only country outside Japan where Meidi-Ya has opened stores, mainly because it was one of Meidi-Ya’s most important ports for food wholesale and imports/exports when the company was in the shipping business in the 1980s.
“Daimaru was one of Meidi-Ya’s customers and when they decided to exit Singapore in 2003, this is when Meidi-Ya took over its space at Liang Court to continue serving the Japanese community and shoppers who loved buying quality Japanese products,” Shuji said.
Meidi-Ya first opened in Liang Court, and for 17 years, it was the retailer’s only store in Singapore. It closed its doors earlier this year due to the centre undergoing some renovations. The Millenia Walk outlet is Meidi-ya’s second store in Singapore.
The Meidi-Ya Millenia Walk store also features the Gokoku Japanese Bakery, which sells buns baked from scratch using production methods and techniques from Japan.
“The Gokoku Japanese Bakery at Millenia Walk is the first Gokoku outlet in Meidi-Ya Singapore and it features a dine-in café experience and an exclusive sandwich selection made using the bakery’s signature breads and buns,” Shuji said.
According to Shuji, many Singaporeans visit Meidi-Ya stores in Japan to purchase their favourite Japanese products, but with the travel restrictions implemented by world leaders to stem the spread of the coronavirus, they’ve been unable to visit.
Positive economic forecast
Opening the new store is well timed, since, according to data from the Singaporean government, the country is expecting to return to solid growth next year. Gross domestic product is forecasted to expand in the 4-6 per cent range in 2021.
The country’s economy grew 9.2 per cent in the September quarter compared to the June quarter. Judging from the crowd that gathered for the store’s opening and in Millenia Walk in general, the positive forecast about the economy has a ring of truth to it.
Shuji said to further improve customers’ experience with the brand and to continue prioritising the safety of their customers, they plan to strengthen their online presence.
According to data from the American Express Business Recovery Research for Singapore, almost half of the businesses in Singapore have reported improved sales in September and October 2020 compared to the same period a year ago. The data also revealed that businesses that have stayed resilient during the pandemic were the ones that were able to readily shift to e-commerce.
Over half the businesses surveyed, 59 per cent, shifted to e-commerce and set up delivery and/or pick-up options, 54 per cent, to remain open during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the data showed.
Many of the changes made to their business models are expected to continue beyond the pandemic. The top three are communicating to customers via social media, 83 per cent; providing digital and/or delivery options, 81 per cent; and accepting more payment types, 80 per cent.
“We are planning to improve our website and e-commerce capabilities in the coming year, and also start our own social media accounts to reach our tech-savvy customers,” he said.
On the second floor of the Meidi-Ya Millenia Walk store is the supermarket, where customers can purchase a wide variety of Japanese products along with fresh meats and goods from the delicatessen.
There are fresh Japanese fruits, vegetables and meat that are air-flown directly from Japan three times a week and shipped by sea once a week. To maintain high safety standards and regulations, Shuji said all imported food undergoes regular checks by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore.
The Nishino pharmacy and some household items can also be found on this floor.
The wine and liquor store can be found on the first floor located just opposite the duplex store and features an impressive selection of over 370 varieties of sake.
As part of Meidi-Ya’s efforts to be a sustainable store, Shuji said the business is planning to discontinue the use of plastic bags and will be replacing them with paper bags. Eco-friendly paper straws, paper cups and wooden stirrers will soon be used in the cafe and bar.
“We believe our constant commitment to bringing quality products and quality service, as well as providing a comfortable shopping environment is what attracts our customers to return to Meidi-Yaregularly, and yes, they do come regularly,” he said.
Meidi-Ya Millenia Walk will officially open on Saturday, November 28.