Prima Limited



Prima Limited is a Singapore-based company that was founded in 1961, and has its beginnings in flour milling. The company is now involved in a variety of businesses, ranging from food manufacturing to agriculture and information technology.1 Prima is known as Bai Ling Mai in Chinese, which means “a hundred-year-old wheat”. The Chinese name is used to represent the company’s vision of corporate longevity.2

Corporate background

Prima Limited was founded in 1961 by Cheng Tsang Man. In 1969, the company was listed on the then Stock Exchange of Singapore and Malaysia.3 Today, Prima is involved in more than just flour milling; it has diversified into areas such as restaurant management, food manufacturing, information technology and real estate.4

In its 1970 annual report, Prima addressed the issue of rapidly rising production costs, especially for the essential raw products of wheat grain, and freight transportation. As a result of this rise in production costs, the company was forced to sell its goods and by-products at higher prices in order to maintain its profit margin.

In 1993, Prima Limited partnered with the National Productivity Board (now known as SPRING Singapore) to start a training centre focusing on improving and nurturing local baking talents. The project has developed into a full-time partnership with the Baking Industry Training Centre, and now offers a wide selection of full-time and part-time programmes for students. This collaboration, known as the Prima-SPRING project, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2003, and is known throughout Asia as one of the leading training centres in the field of confectionary baking.On 1 October 2010, the training centre was incorporated as Baking Industry Training Centre Pte Ltd. It was renamed Baking Industry Training College Pte Ltd with effect from 27 March 2014.7

Flour milling

Prima Limited currently has flour mills in Singapore, Sri Lanka and China. In China, the company operates from three of its associated firms: Xinyan Foods Company Limited, Yantai Xinzhongxin Feeds Limited and Qingdao Xinghua Cereal Oil and Foodstuff Company Limited.8

Prima is widely recognised as one of the leading manufacturers of flour products. When it obtained the ISO 9002 certification in 1993, it was one of the first flour mills in Asia to receive the distinction, a testament to the high quality and consistency of its products.9

Food manufacturing and bakery products

One of the company’s best known subsidiaries, Prima Deli, specialises in baked products. Prima Deli is Singapore’s first locally grown bakery, and the oldest food service franchise.10 The chain of bakeries was established in 1992, and currently has more than 38 outlets in Singapore.11 The company began expanding into Malaysia in 2001.12

Restaurants and food services
Prima Limited owns PFS Pte Ltd, another subsidiary that specialises in local cuisine. PFS was established in 1991, and is responsible for the Prima Tower Revolving Restaurant at Keppel Road, which boasts a scenic sea view. It is one of only two revolving restaurants in Singapore. The restaurant is particularly well known for its authentic Beijing fare, prepared by the famed Master Chef Chan Sung Og from Hong Kong.13

Information technology
Even in the unrelated field of information technology, Prima Limited has become a key player that has made numerous contributions to the sector. The company owns Prima Computer Systems (PCS) and PrimaRND, research facilities that contribute significantly to the company’s other business interests. PCS specialises in providing solutions to the retail and food & beverage sectors through its “integrated cloud based chain-store point-of-sale (POS) systems, real-time process automation systems, intelligent contactless card access systems and interfaceable digital video recording systems”. It is one of the pioneers in Singapore in the provision of “hybrid and cloud POS solutions for different retail industry segments”.14


As the research and development arm of Prima Limited, PrimaRND has since expanded into providing consultancy services for small businesses without their own research and development team, by helping them to develop “raw materials and intermediates, bakery and confectionery products, desserts, sauces and fillings”.15

Food poisoning incident

In November 2007, Prima Limited was confronted with one of its biggest challenges – a virulent case of salmonella poisoning that caused all 38 Prima Deli outlets to be closed for three weeks, during which investigations and checks were carried out. The company was fined the maximum S$5,000 for selling contaminated food and for causing more than 200 of its customers to fall ill after eating cakes purchased from the bakery. Sales dropped 15 percent in the immediate aftermath of the health scare, but were declared to be not as dire as the company had estimated. In fact, customers soon returned to the stores, and the company’s overall sales were 10 to 15 percent higher, compared with the same period in the previous year. As a result of the food poisoning incident, new rules and regulations were put in place, one of which was that all employees are required to undergo not just routine health checks, but also screening for salmonella. The company also installed more cameras in production areas in order to monitor hygiene more effectively.16

Achievements and awards
In 1999, Prima Deli was recognised for its outstanding franchising system and named Domestic Franchisor of the Year 1998 at the Franchise Excellence Awards. In the following year, the company received the Singapore Franchise Mark, which is a symbol of quality awarded to companies that have reached the top in the quality of their franchise management.17

In 2002, Prima Deli picked up the Superbrand status in celebration of its corporate longevity, customer loyalty and significant contributions to the Singapore economy. In 2005, Prima was awarded the SPBA Heritage Brand Award by Lianhe Zaobao newspaper and the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, in recognition of the company’s excellent brand practices.18



Author

Esther Wang Ying Jie



References
1. Hoover’s Company Records. (2016, December 6). Prima Limited profile. Retrieved from ProQuest via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/ 
2. Prima Limited. (n.d.). About Prima: History. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Prima Limited website: http://www.prima.com.sg/abt_us/contents.htm
3. Prima Limited. (n.d.). About Prima: The founder. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Prima Limited website: http://www.prima.com.sg/abt_us/founder.htm; Prima Limited. (n.d.). About Prima: Milestones. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Prima Limited website: http://www.prima.com.sg/abt_us/milestones.htm
4. Hoover’s Company Records. (2016, December 6). Prima Limited profile. Retrieved from ProQuest via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/ 
5. Prima Limited. (1971). Annual report 1970. Singapore: Prima Limited. (Call no.: RCLOS 338.4766472 PLFMAR-[AR])
6. Prima-SPRING Singapore. (2003). A celebration of taste. Singapore: Prima-SPRING Singapore Baking Industry Training Centre, pp. 5, 9. (Call no.: RSING q641.5 CEL)
7. BITC (2009–2010). About BITC. Retrieved 2017, March 29 from Baking Industry Training College website: http://www.bitc.com.sg/AboutUs.aspx?AboutUsID=1
8. Prima Limited. (2015). About us. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Prima Limited website: http://www.primaflour.com/about; Prima Limited. (n.d.). About Prima: Milestones. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Prima Limited website: http://www.prima.com.sg/abt_us/milestones.htm
9. Prima Limited. (2015). About us. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Prima Limited website: http://www.primaflour.com/about; Prima Limited. (1994). Annual report 1993. Singapore: Prima Limited. (Call no.: RCLOS 338.4766472 PLFMAR-[AR])
10. Prima Deli. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Prima Deli website: http://www.primadeli.com/index.php/main/about
11. Tay, T. F. (2008, March 23). Prima’s sales go up. The Straits Times, p. 67. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Chelvi, K. T. (2001, August 16). Prima Deli targets 10 outlets by 2002. New Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from ProQuest via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
13. PFS Pte Ltd. (2017). About us. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from PFS website: http://pfs.com.sg/about_us/overview/; PFS Pte Ltd. (2017). Prima Tower Revolving Restaurant. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from PFS website: http://pfs.com.sg/restaurants/prima_tower/
14. Prima Computer Systems. (2015). About. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from PCS website: http://www.pcspos.com.sg/about-us.php
15. Prima Limited. (n.d.). Technology. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Prima Limited website: http://www.prima.com.sg/core_biz/frameset/index_technology.htm
16. Tay, T. F. (2008, March 23). Prima’s sales go up. The Straits Times, p. 67. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Prima Limited. (n.d.). About Prima: Milestones. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Prima Limited website: http://www.prima.com.sg/abt_us/milestones.htm
18. Prima Limited. (n.d.). About Prima: Milestones. Retrieved 2017, January 31 from Prima Limited website: http://www.prima.com.sg/abt_us/milestones.htm



The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Manufacturing industries>>Food, beverages and tobacco
Trade and industry
Baked products industry--Singapore
Flour industry--Singapore
Commerce and Industry>>Industries
Food industry and trade--Singapore