HK supermarket chain plans HK$80-M giveback scheme to help needy amid pandemic

Ng Kang-chung, South China Morning Post

Posted at Oct 29 2020 12:52 PM

One of Hong Kong’s biggest supermarket chains, Wellcome, is set to give away HK$80 million (US$10.3 million) worth of vouchers to some 250,000 needy families in the city as part of its commitment to return half of the cash it received from the government’s Covid-19 relief measures.

Wellcome, which is operated by Jardine Matheson through Dairy Farm International, announced on Wednesday 2 million cash and meal vouchers would be distributed through more than 70 charities.

“This will be distributed through pamphlets consisting of four cash vouchers of HK$50 each and four meal vouchers of HK$28 each, a total value of HK$312,” Wellcome said in a statement, adding the programme was expected to run from mid-November to late-December.

Recipients will be able to use more than one cash voucher in a single purchase at Wellcome stores, while meal vouchers can also be redeemed at the Dairy Farm Group’s 7-Eleven stores.

Wellcome, and another supermarket chain ParknShop, are dishing out coupons and other perks to shoppers and the needy to meet conditions imposed by the government when they applied for the second round of the HK$81 billion employment support scheme, a wage subsidy programme to help private businesses survive the Covid-19-induced economic slump.

The government argued that supermarkets were among few industries that had benefited from coronavirus-related social-distancing measures, which had forced many people to work and dine at home.

Wellcome received HK$184.5 million to retain 10,149 workers. ParknShop, which is part of AS Watson and backed by tycoon Li Ka-shing, got about HK$162 million to keep 8,215 jobs.

Choo Peng Chee, CEO of North Asia and group convenience at Dairy Farm Group, said: “With the impact of Covid-19 being felt across our city, we want to do more to help our communities and support customers and team members.”

Josephine Lee Yuk-chi, chief executive officer of St James’ Settlement – one of the charities taking part in Wellcome’s giveback programme, said the drive would offer “much needed help” to many members of vulnerable communities and families “by providing daily essentials in these difficult times”.

Meanwhile, those who joined the HK$32 million lucky draw organised by ParknShop earlier this month have been reminded to check their cellphones from Thursday to November 12, as congratulatory text messages will be sent to some 320,000 winners.

A total of 316,990 third prize winners will get HK$100 worth of cash vouchers each, while 3,000 second prize winners will each get a product set plus a HK$100 cash voucher. Ten grand prize winners will be able to join a one-minute free shopping experience – expected to be held on December 6 at a designated store – and get a HK$100 cash voucher each.