Sheng Siong Supermarket, “born and bred” in Singapore, was founded in 1985 by the Lim brothers (Mr Lim Hock Eng, Mr Lim Hock Chee and Mr Lim Hock Leng). Prior to that, the Lim brothers were helping out at their father’s pig farm in Punggol. As the farm was facing an over-supply situation, Mr Lim Hock Chee and his wife rented a stall at one of the now-defunct supermarket chain stores in Ang Mo Kio (BLK 122 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3) to sell chilled pork. Just when the couple managed to clear the excess stock, their store owner (the supermarket chain) ran into financial problems and put up the various stores for sale to existing tenants or other market players, including the one where Mr Lim Hock Chee and his wife were manning the pork stall. With the government phasing out pig farms, and with seed capital from their father, Mr Lim Kim Siong, the Lim brothers took the plunge and ventured into retail business by taking over the store at BLK 122. This becomes their first Sheng Siong store and remains operational today.
First Sheng Siong Store, located at BLK 122 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3
In 1988, the second Sheng Siong store was set up at BLK 539 in Bedok North (now, it has relocated to BLK 539A) and by 1995, Sheng Siong had 3 stores, with the third one at BLK 301 in Woodlands. Compared to 3 stores in the first ten years of operations, Sheng Siong’s growth was exponential in the next ten years (1996-2005), with 14 new store openings, the bulk (86%) of which came about in the last 5 years of that decade. This was despite the fact that domestic and foreign economies were not faring very well as they experienced one setback after another – the financial crisis, collapse of the dotcom era, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) attack and so on. Sheng Siong had been a strong survivor in those bad times, due to the nature of its business, hard work and dedication of family members and staff, as well as the ease (including low cost) of obtaining retail spaces to do business.
After its rapid expansion, Sheng Siong began its internal corporate restructuring to keep pace with its growth. From 2007 onwards, besides continuing to open more retail stores, it embarked on a series of “makeovers” such as revamping its corporate logo, signboards and reinforced “Sheng Siong” as a household name. It also started to roll out advertising and promotions, an area untouched previously. In conjunction with its first-ever mega sales promotion, “The Sheng Siong Show”, a “live” television variety show, was launched in April 2007 and attracted strong viewership. This mega sales promotion was so successful that "The Sheng Siong Show" became a regular-season (mid-year and year-end) programme on national television, MediaCorp Channel 8.
In 2008, Sheng Siong Supermarket leapt from 8th position to become the third-largest retailer in Singapore by sales volume, according to an Asia-Pacific survey by Euromonitor International. Related figures and statistics were published in “Retail Asia”, a magazine that focuses on various aspects and developments of the retail industry especially in the Asia-Pacific region. In the same year, Sheng Siong was selected as a Superbrand for the first time.
By the end of year 2009, Sheng Siong stores grew to 23. During the year, it, together with its sister company, C M M Marketing Management Pte Ltd, announced plans to invest $65 million, to build their new HQ cum Distribution Centre at Mandai Link Road (to replace their current facility at 3000 Marsiling Road) in Singapore. The new Distribution Centre is to be built on 2.32 hectares (or 249,722 sq ft) of land awarded by JTC Corporation, with a lease of 30 + 30 years. Its land size is about twice that of the current warehouse (120,328 sq ft). The new built-up area will be approximately 537,000 sq ft, about 4 times bigger than the current HQ, reflecting the group’s ambition to grow and expand.
On the retail front, Sheng Siong joined hands with Diners Club Singapore in rolling out the “Sheng Siong – Diners Club Cobrand Credit Card”. This marks the first time credit cards (in this instance, Diners Club credit cards) are accepted in all Sheng Siong stores. It used to only offer cash and at most cheque or NETS payment methods.
New HQ of Sheng Siong/CMM @ 6 Mandai Link Road
Then, in 2010, Sheng Siong launched its first-ever “Taiwan Food Fair” and “Korean Food Fair” in July and December respectively, in an attempt to address consumer trends and to let local consumers enjoy top-grade agricultural produce and processed foods from highly-popular overseas markets such as these two. However, in the same year, Sheng Siong received notification from its new landlord at Ten Mile Junction that they decided to terminate the existing lease with Sheng Siong, as they wanted to conduct major refurbishment works in the mixed development to give the property a new identity. With the closure of Sheng Siong Supermarket at Ten Mile Junction in late November 2010, Sheng Siong was left with 22 retail stores.
On 31 May 2011, the Mandai Link new HQ cum Distribution Centre was awarded TOP by the Building Construction Authority (BCA). This symbolises the completion of building works for the site. On 25 July in the same year, all the staff previously working from 3000 Marsiling Road relocated to 6 Mandai Link, the new headquarters and distribution centre. On 17 August, Sheng Siong Group Limited reached another corporate milestone by becoming a Mainboard-listed company on the Singapore Exchange. Its wholly-owned subsidiaries include Sheng Siong Supermarket Pte Ltd and C M M Marketing Management Pte Ltd. Throughout 2011, Sheng Siong expanded into 4 new locations, namely at Elias Mall, Teck Whye Lane, Thomson Imperial Court at Upper Thomson Road as well as Woodlands Industrial Park. On the other hand, its supermarket along Tanjong Katong Road faced a similar fate as the one at Ten Mile Junction, where the land was sold to another third party and redeveloped, resulting in a termination of its lease and operations at Katong. By the end of 2011, Sheng Siong was operating from 25 locations.
In 2012, Sheng Siong continued its expansion mode, in response to consumers’ request to set up operations in areas which it does not already have. With a keen look-out and newly-emerged opportunities in the market, Sheng Siong managed to set foot in Toa Payoh, Geylang, Bukit Batok West and Ghim Moh, for the first time. It also deepened its reach by commencing business in Jalan Berseh, Yishun Central, Bedok North and Clementi. The opening of its Geylang store marked the beginning of 24-hour operations for Sheng Siong. Following its success, this round-the-clock operation model was also replicated in two of the newest stores, located in Clementi Ave 1 and Ghim Moh. With the addition of these 8 new retail stores during the year, the total number of locations that Sheng Siong was operating from increased to 33.
No new stores were added in 2013, although Sheng Siong remains keen to consider suitable spaces to widen its retail network for the benefit of its customers, either by leasing or by acquiring. Thus, in October 2013, it announced the purchase of a total of 6 retail shops at Junction 9, a new shopping-cum-residential complex at 18 Yishun Avenue 9, Singapore, for an aggregate consideration of S$54.9 million for the purpose of operating a supermarket. The complex is expected to be built by mid-2017.
In 2014, Sheng Siong went on with the acquisition of BLK 506 Tampines Central 1, an existing three-storey commercial property, for a total consideration of S$65 million, from a private owner. By then, 29 out of the 33 stores were already operating 24 hours. Meanwhile, in late 2013 and early 2014, Sheng Siong commenced its e-commerce pilot project via “allforyou.sg”, an online shopping website that provides same-day delivery with a 3 hour delivery window in selected areas of Singapore.
Towards the end of 2014 and in January 2015, 2 new stores were opened in Penjuru and at BLK 506 Tampines Central 1 respectively. Sheng Siong was also awarded leases to operate a supermarket each in Bukit Panjang and Punggol area in recent weeks. As of April 2015, Sheng Siong Group Ltd’s market capitalisation exceeded S$1.2 billion.
C M M Marketing Management (CMM) was incorporated in the year 2000, to serve as the warehousing and logistics arm of Sheng Siong Supermarket. Over the years, it gradually became the corporate headquarters of all the related companies and provided back-end support to Sheng Siong Supermarket. Functions carried out at CMM include purchasing, marketing, administration, finance, information technology and human resource.
In 2008, housebrand products were developed for and launched in Sheng Siong’s chain stores, beginning with staples such as rice, cooking oil, sugar, salt, canned food and non-food necessities such as kitchen towels, bathroom tissue and so on.
In June 2009, CMM, together with Sheng Siong Supermarket, announced plans to build their new HQ cum Distribution Centre at Mandai Link Road (to replace their current facility at 3000 Marsiling Road) in Singapore, with an investment of $65 million. The new Distribution Centre will be built on 2.32 hectares (or 249,722 sq ft) of land awarded by JTC Corporation, with a lease of 30 + 30 years. Its land size is about twice that of the current warehouse (120,328 sq ft). The new built-up area will be approximately 543,000 sq ft, about 4 times bigger than the current HQ. The current facility was acquired from an electronics manufacturer, so it was not customised to suit the needs of CMM and its related companies. By end 2010, only about half of the goods went through CMM to Sheng Siong Supermarket, although the latter was the only “customer” of CMM. The rest of the goods were supplied directly to the individual retail stores.
New HQ of Sheng Siong/CMM @ 6 Mandai Link Road
The new Distribution Centre at Mandai Link Road was awarded TOP on 31 May 2011. Its aim is to supply around 70% of the goods to the retail stores, when it becomes fully operational.
The custom-built Distribution Centre leverages on modern technologies, such as the Pick-to-Light Warehouse Management System, to improve on its operational productivity and to achieve zero error in goods handling. As the capacity in the new Distribution Centre increases tremendously relative to the old warehouse, it can embark on more direct and centralised purchasing in bulk, as well expansion of the housebrands’ variety, thus enhancing the Group’s margins.
Following the move to the new premises in July 2011, the old HQ at 3000 Marsiling Road was sold off to a third party and the sale was completed in early 2012. The new HQ was officially opened in September 2012.
Opening Ceremony of the New HQ @ 6 Mandai Link
Towards the end of 2013, in a bid to reduce carbon footprint and to conserve energy, solar panels were installed on the roof-top of the Mandai Link Distribution Centre. They occupy an area of about 11,000 square metres, exploiting its available roof area to the fullest extent. To-date, the installation is believed to be the largest single photovoltaic system in Singapore, with a capacity of at least 1,200 kilowatts. CMM’s pro-active efforts to be environmental-friendly was recognised and the Company was a recipient of the EDB Solar Pioneer Awards in late 2013.