Cold Storage



The earliest supermarket in Singapore, Cold Storage Company Ltd, was established in 1903.1 It pioneered the processing and distribution of hygienic food supplies in Malaya.2

Early history
Cold Storage was formed on 8 June 1903 as a storage and distribution business for frozen food and perishable products.3 It opened its first retail space on 24 March 1905 on Orchard Road with frozen meats, poultry and dairy products imported from Queensland, Australia. This first batch of cargo was stored in a 400-tonne-capacity refrigeration facility in a wharf at Keppel Harbour.4 It pioneered the processing and distribution of hygienic food supplies in Malaya.5


However, the company did not do well initially as the servant classes boycotted it, and its fresh fruit and vegetable imports could not survive the sea journey. Its business improved only in 1909 when it expanded its operations under a new management and built its own custom-made retail outlet with the Johor-bound railway passing right through.6

In 1917, Cold Storage took over a building on Orchard Road. Centrepoint Shopping Centre currently stands on the site of this building.7

Products
In 1923, the company manufactured the first ice-cream in Singapore. Known as Paradise, the brand’s logo was an ornate bird-of-paradise. It was subsequently relaunched in 1937 as Magnolia.8 In 1930, it began baking its own bread9 after the company bought over the Chinese-run Royal Bakery in Geylang.10 The company also undertook other ventures including setting up a pig farm and a dairy farm.11

Later developments
In 1933, it launched a grocery department with vegetables brought from places as near as Cameron Highlands and as far as South Africa.12 During the ’30s, Cold Storage was also a popular and fashionable congregating spot for European housewives with its ice-cream parlour and coffee lounge.13

Cold Storage remained in operation during the Japanese Occupation (1942–45).14 In the 1950s, the Orchard Road outlet went self-service and a chain of Western-style milk bars known as Magnolia Milk Bar (some were also called Magnolia Snack Bar) was introduced in response to competition from new businesses.15 These milk bars serving milkshakes and ice-cream were popular social spots in the 1970s.16 The last of such outlets was the Magnolia Snack Bar located in the Capitol Building at the junction of Stamford Road and North Bridge Road. It closed in 1988.17 Cold Storage outlets are now owned by Dairy Farm International Holdings, a part of the Jardine Matheson conglomerate, which purchased the Cold Storage Holdings retail operations for S$130 million in 1992.18



Author

Lim Siew Yeen



References
1. Goh, C. B. (2003). Serving Singapore: A hundred years of Cold Storage, 1903–2003. Singapore: Cold Storage Singapore (1983) Pte Ltd, p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 381.148095957 GOH); Brazil, D. (1991). Street smart: Singapore. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 116. (Call no: RSING 959.57 BRA); Cold Storage Singapore. (2016). Our story. Retrieved 2016, May 31 from Cold Storage website: https://coldstorage.com.sg/corporate/page/our-story
2. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 163. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)
3. Goh, C. B. (2003). Serving Singapore: A hundred years of Cold Storage, 1903–2003. Singapore: Cold Storage Singapore (1983) Pte Ltd, p. 24, (Call no.: RSING 381.148095957 GOH); Brazil, D. (1991). Street smart: Singapore. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 116. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BRA)
4. Brazil, D. (1991). Street smart: Singapore. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 116–117. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BRA)
5. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 163. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)
6. Brazil, D. (1991). Street smart: Singapore. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 116–117. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BRA)
7. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 163. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)
8. Brazil, D. (1991). Street smart: Singapore. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 117. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BRA)
9. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 163. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)
10. Brazil, D. (1991). Street smart: Singapore. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 117. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BRA)
11. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 163. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE); Brazil, D. (1991). Street smart: Singapore. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 117. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BRA)
12. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 163. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)
13. Brazil, D. (1991). Street smart: Singapore. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 118. (Call no: RSING 959.57 BRA)
14. Goh, C. B. (2003). Serving Singapore: A hundred years of Cold Storage, 1903–2003. Singapore: Cold Storage Singapore (1983) Pte Ltd, pp. 57–71. (Call no.: RSING 381.148095957 GOH); Brazil, D. (1991). Street smart: Singapore. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 119. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BRA)
15. Brazil, D. (1991). Street smart: Singapore. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 119. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BRA)
16. Goh, C. B. (2003). Serving Singapore: A hundred years of Cold Storage, 1903–2003. Singapore: Cold Storage Singapore (1983) Pte Ltd, p. 98. (Call no.: RSING 381.148095957 GOH)
17. Brazil, D. (1991). Street smart: Singapore. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 121. (Call no: RSING 959.57 BRA)
18. Fitzpatrick’s Holdings to buy Cold Storage outlets for $130m. (1992, October 25). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Supermarkets--Singapore
Trade and industry
Commerce and Industry>>Industries
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Services>>Retail and wholesale
Business enterprises--Singapore