THE ground-breaking ceremony of the $30million TappooCity Lautoka shopping complex yesterday (November, 20) marks a retail renaissance for Fiji’s sugar capital.
It was also symbolic of the Tappoo Group’s recent foray into several new fields of commerce, including petrol stations, utility vehicle sales, ice-cream production, and tourism travel.
“TappooCity Lautoka is the latest in a series of acquisitions and investments undertaken by us,” said Group chairman Kanti Tappoo.
“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 specially thanked Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, who was the chief guest at the ground-breaking ceremony, for the Fiji 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 construction of TappooCity Lautoka will begin as soon as possible, and the completion was expected in about 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 by Sharma Design Architects that was unveiled during the ceremony showcases a 100,000 square-feet structure that will undoubtedly have an iconic presence.
“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. This comprises its exclusive retail of world-renown Mahindra utility cars from India’s world conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra, and the acquisition of Mobil Oil’s petrol stations, the latter of which are being renovated to international standards.
Tappoo also commenced its BulaCar Rentals, a rental car company that comprises a fleet of all 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.”
“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.”
Mr Tappoo added that he foresaw a period of unprecedented growth for Fiji, and he assured Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama that the Tappoo Group would do everything possible to harness the opportunities available to create more employment opportunities and foreign exchange earnings for the country.