Popular Holdings

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Popular Holdings Limited
Type Public
Traded as SGX: P29
Industry Retail & distribution, publishing, e-Learning & property development
Founded Singapore (1924 - as Cheng Hing Company)
Headquarters Singapore
Key people Chou Cheng Ngok (Chairman)
Products Books, stationery, assessment titles, multimedia Products
Revenue Increase S$450,317,000 (2009)
Website www.popularworld.com

Popular Holdings (Traditional Chinese: 大眾書局; Simplified Chinese: 大众书局), commonly called Popular, is a Singapore-based company that publishes, distributes, and retails books for the local education market. It has subsidiaries in countries such as Canada, the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Taiwan. In the financial year 2011, it had a turnover of S$522.4 million.[1]

The first Popular Bookstore was set up in 1936 by Chou Sing Chu in North Bridge Road, focusing on retailing Chinese books and stationery. In March 2006, Popular Holdings was the main organiser of BookFest@Singapore, the first Chinese-language book fair ever held outside of China.[2] In May 2006, Popular Holdings staged the inaugural BookFest@Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. It is a platform for established publishers to showcase their latest publications and renowned authors to meet and interact with the readers. The inaugural BookFest@Hong Kong was organized in 2008. By 2009, the annual BookFest has become a major event of the book industries in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.[3]

History and Milestones[edit]

1924–1970[edit]

Popular was founded in 1924 as the Cheng Hing Company, established by Chou Sing Chu in 1924, in the port of Tanjong Pagar in Singapore. In 1934, Mr Chou Sing Chu established World Book Company to engage in the distribution and publishing of Chinese books. In 1936, Popular Book Company was set up in Singapore to retail Chinese books.

In 1947, after World War II, Singapore's five major Chinese bookstores, namely The Commercial Press, Chung Hwa Book Co, Shanghai Book Co, World Book Co and Nanyang Book Co jointly set up United Publishing House (UPH) in Singapore and Malaysia to publish primary school textbooks.

In 1949, Popular commenced publishing activities in Hong Kong under the trade name of World Publishing Company to publish magazines and Chinese books and these magazines and Chinese books were distributed in Asia markets. "Seashore", "World" were amongst its publication brands, which are now distributed by Kam Pui Enterprises in Hong Kong.

In 1950, Educational Publishing House (EPH) was established in Hong Kong to publish Chinese textbooks. Today, it is one of the market leaders of pre-school and primary textbooks in Hong Kong. EPH further expanded its market with the publishing of primary English textbooks in 2005, and secondary English and Mathematics textbooks in 2009. EPH also set up offices in Singapore (1996), Malaysia (1998) and Macau (1999), all EPH publishing houses are known as a renowned publisher that publishes a variety of textbooks and supplementary materials.

In 1970, the first HARRIS Bookstore was established in Hong Kong. HARRIS’ journey restarted many years later in Malaysia and Singapore (both in 2006). There are currently three HARRIS Bookstores in Singapore (Great World City, Jurong Point and 313@somerset and one bookstore in Malaysia (Jusco Tebrau City, Johor Bahru).

1975–1999[edit]

In 1975, the Singapore bookstore operations launched the bilingual bookstore concept and brought the concept over to Malaysia in 1984 to further its regional expansion strategy. Popular Bras Basah, the largest bookstore in Southeast Asia, was opened in 1980. It has remained as the Company’s flagship outlet, and symbolizes Popular’s successful transformation into a bilingual bookstore. In keeping with time, this flagship store went through a complete revamp and was renamed POP@Central in 2005.

In a move to attract more readers, the Popular Card was introduced in 1990. Today, there are over a million Popular Card members in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Popular Singapore launched a brand new Popular Card to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2009.

In 1991, the brand "CD Rama" was launched to retail music and audio products in Popular Singapore. The same concept was introduced in Malaysia's Popular Bookstores in 1992.

In line with the Popular group’s initiatives to consolidate all book retail operations under the name of Popular, all retail businesses in Hong Kong, including World Publishing Company and HARRIS (Hong Kong) was consolidated under the name of Popular in 1992. Popular Hong Kong expanded its operations through penetrating government housing estates and later moving into shopping centres in both urban and suburban areas. It opened the largest single-storey megastore, Popular MegaBox in 2007. There are currently 12 retail outlets in Hong Kong.

In 1994, Popular Book Company (Canada) Limited was incorporated in Toronto, Canada, to publish assessment materials for the Canadian market. Today, it is one of the key educational books publishers in Canada.

Popular Holdings was incorporated in Singapore on 5 October 1996 as a private company under the name of Popular Holdings Limited Pte Ltd. In May 1997, the company was listed on the main board of the Singapore Exchange and changed its name to Popular Holdings Limited accordingly. The principal activity of the company is that of investment holding.[4]

In 1999, Popular moved to its own headquarters at 20, Old Toh Tuck Road in Singapore. In the same year, Popular set up a buying office in Taiwan. As the business grew, Popular Book Co. Ltd was incorporated in 2003. It is now the single largest Chinese books exporter in Taiwan.

2000s[edit]

In 2002, Popular e-learning Holdings Pte Ltd was incorporated to leverage on the Popular Group’s educational content and distribution network to build a e-learning business that focuses on IT skill application and understanding of educational needs. It also serves as a supporting arm to the company's textbook publishing business. In 2008, it was re-branded as Digital Media Group (DMG) to provide cutting edge e-learning service and educational products to serve the digital savvy generation. Three web portals, namely, Educational Community, EduPop and Youth Portal were set up. In 2009, the e-learning business in Singapore was awarded a funding amount of S$2.4 million by the Media Development Authority for regional development and marketing of media services and applications.

In 2004, Popular made official inroads into the book industry in the People’s Republic of China with the establishment of a joint venture Popular Modern Books Company Limited with the previous China National Publishing Industry Trading Corporation. Popular is currently the single largest Chinese books exporter in China. In the same year, the Company incorporated a wholly owned subsidiary in the United Kingdom, Popular UK Pte Limited to engage in publishing, wholesale and distribution of books for the Popular Group.

Popular acquired Novum Organum Publishing House Pte Ltd to strengthen its distribution network in Singapore and Malaysia. Till 2009, Novum represents over 120 publishers from Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan, with over 500 distribution points. It also co-publishes with Taiwan publishers to convert traditional character Chinese books into simplified character Chinese books with 1,300 titles under its list.

PopularWorld (Beijing) Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary, was set up in 2005. In 2008, Popular was granted special approval by the General Administration of Press & Publication (GAPP), Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, to engage in the business of wholesale and retail of books, newspapers and magazines in the People’s Republic of China, it is ready to move into China market in larger scale.

In 2005, the company formed a subsidiary to operate English schools (bushiban) in Taiwan to exploit the local market for English education.[5]

In 2007, Seashore Publishing (M) Sdn. Bhd. was established in Malaysia to focus on the publishing of bilingual general books in Singapore and Sri Lanka. Seashore has released over 200 titles in less than two years, and has an accumulated sale of 1 million copies. 2007 also saw the establishment of Popular Land Pte. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Popular. One Robin, its maiden residential property project was officially launched and sold out. The company is now working on two new residential projects at 18 Shelford and 8 Raja.

In 2009, Popular expanded its retail network through granting its Myanmar partner, City Mart Holding Co Ltd, an exclusive license to operate the business of retailing products under the Popular trademarks in the cities of Yangon and Mandalay in Myanmar.

In the same year, Popular launched "UrbanWrite" – a lifestyle stationery concept store going beyond the basics. Through the store design, captivating display and its offerings of trendy personal stationery, UrbanWrite sets itself to be the "right" choice for the creative expression needs of the young and urban population.

In September 2009, Popular opened its new concept bookstore named {prologue} at Singapore’s latest shopping mall, ION Orchard. It aims to provide a new shopping experience to satisfy the lifestyle of the discerning and affluent population.However, this outlet closed on 25 August 2013.

2010s[edit]

In July 2013, Popular Holdings CEO Chou Cheng Ngok announced Wednesday morning the company acquired the Borders brand for Singapore last year and would be reopening Borders Bookstore in the Jurong area.[6]

Board of directors[edit]

Popular is headed by Chou Cheng Ngok, who is the Executive Chairman and Managing Director of the Group. Other important directors include Ponch Poon, Lim Lee Ngoh, Vangatharaman Ramayah and Lim Soon Tze.[7]

Group of Companies[edit]

The Group currently carries out its publishing activities through subsidiaries operating in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Canada. Its bookstore operations currently have a network of over 130 Popular Bookstores in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. It now has its core businesses in retail, distribution, publishing and e-learning.

Subsidiaries[edit]

The list of its subsidiaries is listed below:[8]

  • Popular Book Company (Pte) Ltd (Singapore)
  • Educational Publishing House Pte Ltd (Singapore)
  • Popular Office Products (S) Pte Ltd (Singapore)
  • PopularWorld.com Pte Ltd (Singapore)
  • Harris Book Company Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)
  • Novum Organum Publishing House Pte Ltd (Singapore)
  • Popular Book Co. (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia)
  • Arajasa Corporation Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia)
  • CD Rama Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia)
  • Novum Organum Publishing House (M) Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia)
  • Popular Book Company Limited (Hong Kong)
  • Harris Book Company Limited (Hong Kong)
  • CD Rama Limited (Hong Kong)
  • eNet Digital Pacific Limited
  • EduHealth Limited
  • Popular Modern Books Company Limited
  • Popular Yuchen Company Limited (Taiwan)
  • Popular Yuchen Book Limited (Taiwan)
  • One-Stop Popular Bookmart (B) Sdn Bhd
  • Popular Book Co Pty Ltd
  • Popular UK Pte Limited (British)
  • EPH Publishing (M) Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia)
  • English Language Publishing Limited (Hong Kong)
  • Kam Pui Enterprises Limited (Hong Kong)
  • Kinder Education Press Limited (Hong Kong)
  • Ampress Limited
  • New Asia Publishing House Limited (Hong Kong)
  • New Edge International Limited
  • Popular Kids Co., Ltd.
  • Popular Digital Products (Shenzhen) Ltd. (China)
  • PopularWorld (Beijing) Limited (China)
  • Educational Publishing House Limited (Hong Kong)
    • Yuk Choi Book Store (Hong Kong)
  • Popular e-Learning Holdings Pte Ltd (Singapore)
  • Educational Publishing House Pte Ltd (Singapore)
  • EduPlanner Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)
  • EduLand Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)
  • Learning Edvantage Pte Ltd
  • Pan Lloyds Publishers Limited (Hong Kong)
  • Cyber Progress Technology Limited
  • Popular e-Learning (H.K.) Limited (Hong Kong)
  • Town4kids Limited (Hong Kong)
  • Guangzhou Cyber Progress Information Technology Limited (China)
  • Popular e-Learning (Beijing) Ltd. (China)
  • Beijing Tsinghua Timefound & Cisco System Technology Co., Ltd (China)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Popular Holdings Limited 2011 Annual Report". Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
  2. ^ "Read All About It in Singapore". China Daily. 11 March 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  3. ^ "Popular Holdings Limited 2009 Annual Report — Corporate Milestones". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  4. ^ "About POPULAR — The POPULAR Story". Popular Holdings. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  5. ^ "Singaporean English school looking to teach Taiwan's kids". United Daily News. 22 March 2005. Archived from the original on 2006-10-03. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  6. ^ http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/borders-bookstore-to-make/761802.html?cid=FBSG
  7. ^ "About POPULAR — Board of Directors". Popular Holdings. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  8. ^ "About POPULAR — Group of Companies". Popular Holdings. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 

External links[edit]