Mr Benedict Soh, Executive Chairman of Kingsmen Creatives Limited

Mr Simon Ong, Deputy Chairman, Kingsmen Creatives

Mr Andrew Cheng, Group CEO, Kingsmen Creatives

Distinguished Guests, 

Ladies and gentlemen,


Introduction

Good evening. I am happy to join you today at the opening ceremony of your new headquarters, aptly named, The Kingsmen Experience. 

2 Kingsmen has certainly come a long way since your humble beginnings, over four decades ago, in a terrace house in 1976. Much of this, I have no doubt, is due to the vision and perseverance of your co-founders Mr Benedict Soh and Mr Simon Ong, and I congratulate both of you, as well as Andrew and your entire Kingsmen team, for achieving this significant milestone today.

3 From that single office in Singapore, Kingsmen quickly expanded into other countries, first, regionally into Malaysia and Thailand, and now as far away as the Middle East and the United States.

4 Over the years, as the needs of your clients changed and new market opportunities presented themselves, you also invested in growing new capabilities and evolved from producing exhibition and retail spaces, to areas like developing multinational marketing campaigns and theme park experiences.

5 It is this constant drive to understand the different challenges and needs of the market, and to spur yourselves to deliver outstanding design solutions in response, that has brought us here today as we celebrate this new stage of your journey.

6 Your experience is a vivid illustration of what is possible when a Singapore company takes it upon itself to venture far afield, bringing the Singapore brand and a reputation for design excellence to 21 offices worldwide. 

7 Today’s success of Kingsmen also showcases the importance of transforming ourselves to stay current and competitive, and growing our ability to do good design that is relevant to the changing needs of the global market.

8 Good design is also about entrenching that mindset of innovation – a willingness to stay resilient and flexible, understand the challenges, and to turn adversity into opportunities through creative ideas and solutions – that very enterprising spirit that Benedict and Simon have embodied. 

Design is a key enabler for businesses to stay innovative and competitive

9 Kingsmen’s focus on good design – that is, not only maintaining a spirit of creative exploration and innovation, but also putting yourselves into the shoes of customers to deeply understand their needs and create relevant solutions – is a key factor that has helped you stay ahead amidst stiff competition. This true not only in Singapore, but also for companies worldwide.

10 Studies that tell us that globally, design-led companies tend to outperform those that do not place as great an importance on design. For example, a study released by McKinsey last October reported that companies assessed to be in the top quartile of the McKinsey Design Index – which rates companies by how strong they are in design – returned 32% higher revenue growth and 56% higher growth in total returns to shareholders over a five-year period, compared to industry counterparts. 

11 I am reassured to learn that more companies in Singapore are also recognising the importance of design, and taking steps to integrate design within their business strategy, as a local study by the DesignSingapore Council in 2017 showed. I believe we should encourage more companies to embed design as part of their business processes.

12 One way we are doing this is through the Innovation by Design programme launched by Dsg and EDB last year. The programme matches design strategists to companies and public agencies, to help them use design for business growth and organisational transformation. 

13 The Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) is one organisation which has undergone this programme. With the help of the design strategists, SFIC and its subsidiary the International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS) looked into how they could reinvent their annual furniture trade exhibition to better address the evolving needs of increasingly well-travelled and design-savvy urban dwellers. I understand some of the new concepts and experiences they explored will be showcased at this year’s edition of the IFFS, with a focus on transforming tomorrow’s urban living. 

14 Dsg is also working with partners like Enterprise Singapore and the Design Business Chamber, to help more SMEs adopt design. These are all part of our efforts to help companies use design to stay innovative and competitive, and to drive broader demand for design.

Designers and design firms must keep developing their skills and capabilities to stay relevant 

15 However, rising demand and an increasingly complex scope for design also means a greater need for those in the industry sector to keep up with changes.

16 In today’s disruptive, rapidly changing global economy, it is crucial for designers to keep learning and developing the multi-disciplinary skills that help them stay relevant and enable them to capitalise on new emerging trends. This applies y to individuals, as well as businesses.

17 I understand that 14 years ago in 2005, at that point in time Kingsmen had no designers with background in service and experience design. But today, you have grown the design team to about 400 designers, and I am sure they will serve you well as you explore new business opportunities, such as your collaboration with Hasbro to develop the world’s first NERF family entertainment centre attractions across Asia Pacific. 

18 The future holds great opportunities, and we must position ourselves to make the most of these, by honing our skills and building our ability to do great design – not just in terms of aesthetics, but to develop better services and more delightful customer experiences.

19 To help our design businesses be ready for the future, Dsg is also working closely with nine design industry associations, such as the SFIC, to develop three-year roadmaps for sector-wide transformation.

20 These roadmaps will identify future industry trends and key capabilities that design businesses should develop to stay competitive.

21 Through the SkillsFuture Study Awards for the design sector, Dsg has also supported more than 160 designers as they deepen their skills in areas such as innovation and user experience design, to help ensure that there is sufficient talent to support our businesses as they expand into new areas.

Everyone has a role in contributing back to the community, and working together to grow the design sector

22 I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for Kingsmen’s invaluable contributions to the community and the design sector.

23 Benedict and Simon have not only contributed greatly to Kingsmen’s growth, but have also kindly offered their time and expertise to industry associations such as the Design Business Chamber, and to help chart our vision for the future through initiatives such as STB’s MICE 2020 Roadmap and Dsg’s Design 2025 Masterplan.

24 Kingsmen’s success and experience as a forerunner in this sector holds many learning opportunities for us, and we are fortunate that you have so generously taken the time and effort to contribute back to the community and the industry.

25 Let me encourage everyone here to look out for ways in which, as businesses and as individuals, we all give back, whether it is by volunteering your time and expertise to help your respective industry chambers and associations, or by mentoring young designers as they progress along their career.

26 Each and every one of us, I am very sure, has got lots of good advice to contribute as we grow Singapore’s design sector together. 

Conclusion

27 Once again, let me offer my heartiest congratulations to the entire management and staff of Kingsmen, and I wish you every success.