'We differentiate ourselves from our competitors not only by offering fairly priced goods but also excellent service. This way, we offer true value for money,' managing director Lim Hock Chee said in a recent interview.
Such a strategy has helped the company grow into a supermarket chain with 17 stores islandwide and headcount of over 2,000. Sales at the Ang Mo Kio outlet average $60,000 daily - a far cry from the $3,000 daily takings when Sheng Siong opened its first provision shop there some 21 years ago.
Previously, the family owned a farm in Punggol that supplied fresh pork to a neighbourhood market, which later closed down due to financial problems. 'That's when we decided to open the Sheng Siong provision shop,' Mr Lim told BT.
Back then, as Mr Lim and his brothers - Hock Eng and Hock Leng - had no experience in running a provision shop, the family hired an experienced staff to oversee the purchasing of non-poultry products, while the brothers focused on the purchase and sales of fresh poultry.
"Sheng Siong pays out 60 per cent of the chain's profits as staff bonuses."
'In the early days, business cost was a major consideration, and so we hired only about four workers, with the other staff largely made up of family members.' Today, it is paying about $30,000 in monthly rental for its 14,000 sq ft supermarket in Ang Mo Kio.
Then in 1988, the brothers opened a second provision shop in Bedok, spread over 14,000 sq feet, followed by a third in Marsiling Road some nine years later. Sales at both outlets eventually grew to over $50,000 daily. Spurred by its success, Sheng Siong then went on a rapid expansion trail, opening some 14 new outlets between 1999 and 2006, the biggest being the one at Tekka Mall with a floor space of 60,000 sq feet.
According to Mr Lim, staff welfare is important as the business is very much service-driven....