THE multi-million dollar investment into constructing Lautoka City’s grandest shopping complex yet is a further display of the Tappoo Group’s commitment to Fiji and her people, said Group chairman Kanti Tappoo at the ground- breaking ceremony last week. “We have consistently demonstrated our faith in the Fijian economy, and in the ingenuity and intelligence of the people of Fiji, by devoting every effort to the continued expansion of our operations here,” he said. He expressed special gratitude to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama for his Government’s support of local investors and for its forward-thinking policies. “It is this type of forward-thinking that gives us increasing assurance to continue to invest in the country that we proudly call our home,” Mr. Tappoo said.
“We are very grateful and confident of your desire to promote local investors as much as possible whilst trying to attract foreign investors,” said Mr. Tappoo. Mr. Tappoo said the construction of TappooCity Lautoka would begin as soon as possible. He expects the project to be completed within 18 months. He said the complex would be a “bustling and upscale shopping mall comprising of Tappoo department stores, specialty shops, entertainment and an international foodcourt, together with ancillary services like banks etc.”.
The TappooCity Lautoka complex, which is expected to create approximately 250 jobs during the construction phase and in excess of 300 jobs when the complex is operational, will be located beside the entrance of Churchill Park.
“Nothing would give us more pleasure than to provide much needed employment opportunities to the young men and women in Lautoka,” said Mr. Tappoo.
The family-owned business with humble beginnings in Sigatoka 73 years ago already employs in excess of 1,300 people nationwide.
The design, crafted by Sharma Design Architects, was unveiled during the ceremony and showcased an expansive structure that would undoubtedly give Lautoka City a more regal composure.
“We were very pleased when the Lautoka City Council called for an expression of interest for this site and we are indeed delighted that they share our vision for great possibilities here,” said Mr. Tappoo.
“I would like to express my sincere thanks to the council and its city administrator, Mr. Pravin Bala, for their support, guidance and confidence in the Tappoo Group.”
Among the new developments the Tappoo Group is undertaking in Lautoka is the expansion of its bottling company (recently acquired from Eddie Hin Industries Ltd.), the development of a new Tip Top ice-cream factory, and the creation of the first-ever Tappoo Industrial Park.
The Group’s other ventures include several initiatives in the motoring industry.
The acquisition of Mobil Oil’s petrol stations, which are being renovated to international standards, is a decisive step that complements the Group’s growing venture in this area. “This makes us one of the largest fuel retailers in Fiji,” said Mr. Tappoo, adding that this was in perfect alignment with their representation of Kia Motors and Mahindra’s utility vehicles in Fiji. He said Kia Motors’ lineup of award-winning vehicles had grown significantly in Fiji, as it had done worldwide, and that the distribution of Mahindra & Mahindra’s utility vehicles was complementary of this partnership. Tappoo has also launched BulaCar Rentals, a rental car company that comprises a fleet of new cars. More recently, the Group was appointed by QANTAS as its general sales agent for the whole of Fiji. Despite all these diversifications, Tappoo continued to expand its traditional retail business, Mr. Tappoo said.
“We have renovated our store in Nausori and opened up a new one in Nakasi,” he said.
“In addition to opening new stores, there are continuous renovations, refurbishments and investments taking place in all our downtown department stores and resort shops, as well as our airport duty-free stores.”
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR LOCAL INVESTORS
Mr. Tappoo said given such a supportive environment for local businesses, he foresaw a period of unprecedented growth for Fiji.
“The Fiji Government has always encouraged, as a matter of priority, investments in Fiji by Fijian companies, and we are very proud to have had you point to the Tappoo Group as an example,” he said.
“What the private sector needs is a government machinery that will be focused on facilitating progress and removing any hindrance which may impede or stall the resultant growth and momentum.
“Thank you Mr. Prime Minister for making that happen.”
In conclusion, Mr. Tappoo assured Mr. Bainimarama that the Tappoo Group would do everything possible to harness the opportunities available in order to create more employment opportunities and foreign exchange earnings for Fiji.