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Hong Kong: Discovery Bay residents applaud Wellcome competition

After 11 and a half years of discussions, planning and development, Hong Kong’s Wellcome supermarket chain – one of the two largest in the territory – opened its first store in the resort-style development of Discovery Bay (DB) yesterday, ending years of monopoly by rival ParknShop.

The long-established community has a population of 16-20,000 residents, a large proportion of them relatively high-income earners.

Wellcome says products in its DB store number 18,000 and have been sourced in response to views collected from residents in the six months leading up to the opening. The goal, says the company, was to source merchandise to meet the needs of a unique, ethnically diverse community, where many families have young children and pets. The store has been fitted with larger, deeper shelves than normal, the company says, to accommodate family packs.

Offerings at the store include baby products available exclusively at the DB branch, a Pet Corner, and a wider than normal range of foods sourced from Southeast Asia – to cater to the wishes both of residents and their domestic helpers, many of whom come from Indonesia and the Philippines.

"Discovery Bay is a unique community with local characteristics," says Diane Chiu, marketing director of Wellcome. "To provide services that exceed customers’ expectations, the Wellcome team has made thorough preparations, conducted in-depth studies and achieved a number of ‘firsts’. We are confident that with our 65 years of retail experience, our professional support staff and enthusiastic frontline staff, Wellcome will provide our customers with attentive service and products at great value."

Among the "firsts": customers in the car-free community will be able to enjoy golf-cart parking services in the near future, while the first Welcome Wellness Centre will offer naturopathic, nutritional and skincare services.

Retail in Asia spoke to Colin Bosher, chairman of the Discovery Bay City Owners’ Committee, who officiated at the opening ceremony yesterday. "DB residents are delighted about the opening," he said. "We’ve got two large supermarkets now, and they can compete on price, quality and service."

Bosher says it’s too early to tell whether the new store will meet DB residents’ expectations, and says, "The Owners’ Committee has a supermarket subcommittee – like a focus group – that will talk regularly to Wellcome and ParknShop to make sure they’re stocking the right goods, and to comment on the quality of the fresh food."