Ben Chan is a prominent Chinese-Filipino entrepreneur who is the founder of the Philippines’ largest clothing chain, Bench, under the trademark Suyen Corporation. With his world class fashion style and hardworking ethic, he has expanded the Philippine clothing chain into international markets including China, the land of his forefathers. He is dubbed as one of the most prominent people in the country as mentioned in the Philippine Tatler’s list of Who’s Who of the Philippines. Ben comes from a very dynamic family of serial entrepreneurs. He is the son of Chan Lib, a Chinese immigrant. Together with his wife See Ying, Chan Lib established Liwayway Marketing Company, which soon became the country’s leading starch supplier due to its famous flagship product Liwayway Gawgaw (laundry starch). It primarily specialized in repacking of flour and coffee products. In 1966, the business was converted into a corporation, as it expanded into the distribution of pomade, candles, candies and sauces. By 1974, under the second generation management headed by Ben Chan’s brother Manuel Chan, LMC diversified into the manufacturing of snack foods such as “Oishi Prawn Crackers” and “Kirei Yummy Flakes.” Ben’s brother Carlos Chan founded Liwayway (China) Company, Limited which has become a salty snack powerhouse in mainland China. Ben was schooled in Manila, but moved to San Francisco for an interior design course. It was there where he immersed himself in design and art. Upon his return from the US, he established Dimensione, a modern furniture store and Finale, an art gallery. In 1987 he started a small T-shirt shop in Manila’s SM department store. His t-shirts were known for its affordable prices and distinctive style. It would eventually become the beginnings of Bench, the fashion clothing line, under the family owned Suyen Corporation. In 1994 Bench opened its first fashion store outside the Philipines in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, soon followed by its first in Shanghai, China. A store soon followed the following year in Kuwait. In 1997 Bench pioneered the first underwear show in the Philippines. In 2002 the show would set a record by attracting 25,000 to its Underwear Show. By 2007, on its 20th anniversary, Bench had established stores in Eaglerock, Los Angeles, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Guangzhou, Xian, and Dubai, on its road to global retailing. China remains its primary focus with more than 27 company stores and 19 franchises. Recently Mr. Chan has dabbled in philanthropy, establishing the Wear Your Conscience Project with Photobook for the Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation. Bench is a leading lifestyle and fashion chain in the Philippines. The trademark is derived from the acronym of the founder's first and last names (Ben Chan). From its humble beginnings, the t-shirt offerings expanded into a whole lifestyle store, offering Fix Salon for hair products and services, stationary linePrescribe(r), Bench Brats for teenagers, Bench Body and Bath specializing in bath and fragrance products, and now HerBench offering a complete women's line, including fragrances and cosmetics. Management of the company is shared with Chan's brother-in-law Virgilio Lim who develops systems and operations, while sister Nenita Lim handles finance. Chan devotes his energy to the creative side. Celebrity endorsers
Bench was the first company to value the concept of celebrity endorsers and image models. In 1988 with its first dedicated Bench boutique, Ben Chan hired a then young up-and-coming actor by the name of Richard Gomez as its first image model. As Gomez's fame increased, so did Bench's, paired with increasingly large and beautiful images of Gomez along highways and malls in the Philippines. Other endorsers have included Gomez's wife Lucy Torres, models Marc Nelson and Borgy Manotoc, as well as actors Diether Ocampo andRichard Gutierrez. Besides beautiful young image models, Bench has also been one of the pioneers in featuring more mature endorsers, including...
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