Metro (department store)

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Metro Private Limited
Native name
Founded1953 in Surabaya, Indonesia
1991, reopened in Jakarta, Indonesia
FounderOng Tjoe Kim
Area served
Key people
Winston Choo Wee Leong (Chairman)
Jopie Ong Hie Koan (Managing Director)
Chairul Tanjung
(Main Commissioner)
OwnerMetro Holdings Limited
WebsiteMetro Singapore
Metro Indonesia

Metro is a Singapore and Indonesia based chain department store selling cosmetics, apparel and fashion accessories. Founded by Ong Tjoe Kim in 1953, Metro currently has 13 outlets located across Singapore and Indonesia.


Metro’s founder Ong Tjoe Kim originally from Fujian, China, migrated to Indonesia when he was a teenager. He joined the Toko Dezon department store and worked his way up to a managerial position. In 1952, Ong decided to venture out on his own and eventually opened the first Metro store in 1953 in Surabaya, Indonesia. Ong chose the name, Metro, after his love for movies made by film studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Metro opened its first Singapore-based outlet in 1957, at the site that is now the Singapore Treasury Building, after Ong migrated from Indonesia to Singapore, pitching its business at the wealthy housewives of Indonesia and Singapore.[1][2]

A department store was opened in Hong Kong in 1960.[3] The first Metro branch under the name of Metrotex opened in Liat Towers on Orchard Road in 1965, being one of the first Singapore department stores to carry imported designer goods.[1][4] The branch was renamed Metro Orchard when it moved into the Holiday Inn Shopping Complex on Scotts Road in 1973.[2] Metro continued to expand and set up more branches including Metro Supreme in 1971, Metro Golden Mile in 1974, Metro Grand in Lucky Plaza in 1978 and Metro Scotts and Metro Far East in 1983.[4] Other than carrying in overseas label, Metro delved into developing Singapore’s private label in fashion merchandise.[4]

In January 2012, Metro Departement Store was brought back to Surabaya, Indonesia, where it was opened in Ciputra World Surabaya, after 60 years of founding.

Metro Holdings[edit]

Metro Pte Ltd was publicly listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange in 1973 as Metro Holdings Limited.[1][2][5][6]

As the company started to expand, Metro Holdings began to look towards diversifying its interests and expanding beyond retailing. In 1977, the company acquired Orchard Square Development Corporation Private Limited, the joint developer for Ngee Ann City and set up Metrobilt Pte Ltd, expanding its business into construction and building.[2][7] In the same year, the company opened Futaba Bakery in the supermarket of Metro Golden Mile in a joint venture with Futaba Bakery Co Ltd, Japan.[8] The company continued to diversify its business by buying into Datalogue (S) Pte Ltd, a company dealing in computer software.[9] Metro Holdings also ventured into credit leasing business when it bought into Trans-Pacific Credit Pte Ltd in 1982.[10] Metro Holdings also co-founded luxury brand retailer chain, The Hour Glass in 1979.[11] The company also started a subsidiary company, Transmarco in 1978 as a distribution marketing company for luxury brands.[2]

The Metro group’s key businesses today focuses primarily on property investments in China, Japan and UK and retail properties in China and Indonesia.[11][12]

Metro Private Limited[edit]

Metro Private Limited as the retail branch of Metro Holdings Limited also went into specialty retailing and ventured into many retail formats. Metro Pte Ltd initiated a joint venture with Toys ‘R’ Us Inc in 1984 and opened its first store Toys ‘R’ Us Metro outlet in Marine Parade.[13][14] The venture was terminated in 1993 when the Metro Holdings sold its shares back to the parent company of Toys ‘R’ Us Inc.[15] In 1993, Metro (Pte) Ltd partnered with Kmart USA to open 3 Kmart Metro stores in Marina Square, United Square and Century Square.[16][17] The venture was dissolved in 1996.[18] Metro is also the local franchisee for British high-street fashion and accessories chains Monsoon and Accessorize.[19]

In the 1990s, Metro re-entered the suburbs following Singapore's public housing trend and development to open Metro Tampines in 1996, Metro Woodlands in 1998, Metro Sengkang in 2002 and Metro City Square in 2009. Currently it has two stores on Orchard Road and three suburban stores, with the closure of the Metro outlet at Tampines in 2007.[11][12] Metro Paragon is its flagship store at Paragon mall and Metro Centrepoint, opened in November 2014 at The Centrepoint mall. Metro closed down one at Sengkang in 2015 and City Square in 2015. Now left is Woodlands, Paragon and Centrepoint.

Logo design[edit]

The logo of Metro was created in 1957, with a simple typography that included the Chinese calligraphy of 美羅, which has a similar pronunciation as Metro. The inspiration for the first logo came from the ancient Chinese seal. The logo underwent a change in 1982, when it was redesigned by Landor Associates Ltd. The new logo, reflects the ‘East meets West’ influence incorporates the calligraphic M, customised hand-lettered Metro wordmark in English and brushed-lettered calligraphy Metro wordmark in Chinese.[20]

Milestones of Metro[edit]

1957 Metro starts as a textile store on 72 High Street.
1965 The first Metro department store opens at Orchard Road in Liat Towers and is known as Metrotex.
1972 Metro Toyland opens at George Lee Building.
1973 Metrotex relocates to Holiday Inn Shopping Complex on Scotts Road and is renamed as Metro Orchard.

Metro Holdings is formed and the company is listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Singapore.

1974 Opens the Les Must de Cartier boutique in Far East Shopping Centre.

Metro becomes an affiliated member with one of the largest retail sourcing organisation, Associated Merchandising Corporation in the USA.

Opens Metro Golden Mile, a 110,000 square feet store with a supermarket.

1976 First joint venture department store, Metrojaya opens in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur(KL). The stakes were later sold.

Formation of Metrobilt Pte Ltd to participate in the building and construction industry.

1978 Introduction of Metro Grand at Lucky Plaza, Singapore’s first luxurious, premium, high-end department store that adopted a brand boutiques concept within a store.

Transmarco Pte Ltd was set up to take over and expand the activities of the wholesale division of the Group.

1979 Metro enters the watch market through the establishment of The Hour Glass.
1981 Closure of Metro Bukit Timah.
1982 The premises occupied by Metro Grand at Lucky Plaza were purchased at 28 million.

The new Metro logo designed by Landor Associates is launched.

1984 Metro Private Limited expands into the toy business in a joint venture with Toys R Us Inc of USA.
1985 The first Toys ‘R’ Us outlet opens in Marine Parade and “Metro is Singapore” brand identity is launched.
1986 Opening of Metro’s first factory outlet at Metro Golden Mile.
1988 Metrobilt enters a joint venture to develop office property in Guangzhou, China.
1990 Metrojaya Berhad is listed on Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.
1991 Metro sets up its first department store in Jakarta under a special and technical assistance arrangement.
1993 Metro enters into a joint venture with Kmart USA.

Disposal of interest in the Singapore operations of Toys R Us, Metrojaya Bhd.

Develops Metro Tower and Metro City in Shanghai.

1994 Opening of Kmart stores in Singapore.

Acquisition of 24.5% stake in the Gurney Park retail/hotel/residential development in Penang, Malaysia.[21][22]

Disposal of entire stake in watch and fashion retailer Transmarco Ltd.[23][24]

1996 Metro department store business re-enters the suburban market in Singapore and opens its first suburban store Metro Tampines in Century Square.

Kmart operation is terminated.

Metro introduces Internet shopping for its customers.

1997 Metro Tower, a 26-storey office tower in Shanghai, is completed.

Metro acquires Sun Vista and Sun Viva passenger vessels.

Metro opens The Oasis resort in Cairns, Australia.

1998 Metro City, a 9-storey entertainment complex in Shanghai, opens.
2000 Sun Viva I and Sun Viva II were disposed of and Metro exited the cruise business.

Metro acquired a 50% interest in the Metro Indonesian Department Store business which operates two stores in Jakarta.

The Oasis Resort, Cairns, won the “Best Deluxe Accommodation” in the Tropical North Queensland Tourism Awards.

Work in retail mall in Gurney Park, Penang commences.

2001 Gurney Plaza mall in Penang, Malaysia is completed and launched.

Additional 22,000 sq ft of retail space is added to Metro Woodlands store.

Metro Paragon is retrofitted and refocuses on fashion lifestyle.

2002 First specialty shop Accessorize opens at Bugis Junction.
2003 Launch of Metro co-branded and in-house credit cards.

First Metro warehouse sale is introduced.

2004 Closure of Metro Marina.
2005 Metro is the first retailer in Singapore to launch the electronic gift card. The initiative is a partnership between Metro and Network for Electronic Transfer Singapore Pte Ltd (NETS).
2007 Metro City in Beijing is completed.

Metro celebrates its 50th anniversary.

2009 Opening of Monsoon Accessorize, the first standalone store, in Ion.
2010 The first outlet of M2, a multi-label shoe speciality shop opens in Takashimaya shopping mall.
2014 Opening of Metro Centrepoint at The Centrepoint, the second store on Orchard Road, and Metro’s biggest department store with 6 levels.
2015 Metro closes its outlet at Compass Point after 12 years of operations.

Metro Indonesia[edit]

Jakarta Pondok Indah Mall Plaza Senayan Mal Taman Anggrek Gandaria City Puri Indah Mall Trans Studio Mall[25]
Bandung Trans Studio Mall
Solo The Park Mall
Surabaya Ciputra World
Makassar Trans Studio Mall
Manado Grand Kawanua Citywalk

The department stores with more than 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) of retail space combined offers merchandise from international labels to famous local brands. It opened its first branch at Pondok Indah Mall in 1990, followed by Plaza Senayan in 1996. Metro expands in 2001-2002 as they opened two new branches at Bandung Supermal (now Trans Studio Mall) & Mall Taman Anggrek respectively. From 2010 to 2012, Metro opened 4 new branches respectively: Makassar's Trans Studio Mall in 2010, Surabaya's Ciputra World in 2011, Jakarta's Gandaria City in 2012, and Solo's The Park Mall in 2013. In 2017, Metro finally expands after 4 years hiatus, opening a new branch in Puri Indah Mall and Grand Kawanua Manado. In 2018-2019, Metro will open its sixth Jakarta store in Trans Studio Mall Cibubur.[25]

Metro Pacific Place, opened in 2008, is closed in 2017. Used to be called as M Pacific Place in 2008 before converted to Metro in 2009, this location is relocated to the Puri Indah Mall branch in 2017, based on inside sources. Meanwhile, in 2019, Metro downsized its Plaza Senayan store from four floors to two floors.[26]

The chain's CEO and President Christine Barki has been featured in the 100 Next-Era CEOs in Asia 2011 by Japan Times.[27]

CT Corp owned the franchise alongside Metro Singapore, with CT holds the largest shareholder.


  1. ^ a b c "Metro founder Ong Tjoe Kim dead at 98". Channel News Asia. 12 Aug 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e "'Sinkeh' who became king of dept stores". Singapore Monitor. 13 Aug 1984.
  3. ^ "Governing director worked way up". The Straits Times. 20 Oct 1965.
  4. ^ a b c "Quick! More slippers, more sneakers". The Straits Times. 31 Oct 1996.
  5. ^ "Metro comes to the market". The Straits Times. 5 Oct 1973.
  6. ^ "About us". Metro.
  7. ^ "Planning a top shopping complex". The Straits Times. 27 May 1977.
  8. ^ "In-house bakery at Metro". The Business Times. 6 May 1978.
  9. ^ "Metro Holdings ventures into software application". The Straits Times. 21 Apr 1982.
  10. ^ "New Metro venture". The Straits Times. 31 Aug 1982.
  11. ^ a b c "Metro Holdings Limited-History". Marketline. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  12. ^ a b "Should Metro quit retail and become a developer?". The Business Times. 18 Feb 2009.
  13. ^ "Metro in toy venture with US giant". The Business Times. 7 Feb 1984.
  14. ^ "Metro's first toy supermarket to open in Katong". The Straits Times. 8 Feb 1984.
  15. ^ "Metro to sell stake in Toys 'R' Us joint venture". The Business Times. 17 Dec 1993.
  16. ^ "Metro in talks with K-Mart". The Business Times. 13 Aug 1993.
  17. ^ "Metro, Kmart seal accord to open discount chain in S'pore". The Business Times. 17 Aug 1993.
  18. ^ "Kmart quitting S'pore; move to cost Metro $17m". The Business Times. 29 Jun 1996.
  19. ^ "Metro: Hard-nosed operator with plans to expand". The Straits Times. 21 May 2008.
  20. ^ "About". Metro.
  21. ^ "Metro acquires 50pc Gurney stake". The Business Times. 21 Jun 1994.
  22. ^ "Metro acquires Goldmax Investments". The Business Times. 30 Jun 1995.
  23. ^ "Sukarman to head Transmarco". The Business Times. 26 Nov 1994.
  24. ^ "Metro sale". The New Paper. 2 Sep 1994.
  25. ^ a b
  26. ^
  27. ^ Archived February 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine