Mr. Chen Kaitong is a man who not only dominates the retail industry, but also has his hands full as a member of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, the largest parliamentary body in the world. He is not only recognised for his contributions to the world of retail, but also for his personal achievements.
A makeshift stall on a mountainous road in Anxi county in China’s Fujian province is where Mr. Chen had his humble beginnings more than three decades ago. Despite being born to farming parents, he was inclined rather towards retail. Sorely affected by poverty with his family having no money to buy land or clothes, or even to build a house, Mr. Chen decided to become a street vendor. At 16, he started selling socks, slippers, and scarves just to make ends meet.
His hard work allowed him to rent a small counter in an Anxi shopping centre for selling apparel and textiles. Soon, he moved to a larger storefront and was able to add more variety to his wares, selling everyday items such as hairdryers, lighters, and earphones. From then on, it was evident that Mr. Chen had foresight when it came to business trends, at a time when China was transitioning from an agricultural to industrial economy. He soon found himself offering trendy deliverables in his rapidly urbanising city.
Ride to success
The epitome of a rags-to-riches story, Mr. Chen soon became the founder of Singapore-listed Chinese department store operator Zhongmin Baihui. It was in 1997 that Mr. Chen opened the first Zhongmin Baihui outlet in Quanzhou, Fujian together with Mr. Lee Swe Keng, the company’s current Executive Chairman. This venture turned out to be a very profitable one, and the business just kept on expanding from there.
Aside from being the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of Zhongmin Baihui Retail Group Ltd., Mr. Chen also held several positions which include:
- Director of Beijing Fengrong Baihui Investment Co., Ltd. and Quanzhou ZMBH
- Member of the Board of Directors at Zhongmin Baihui Retail Group Ltd. and Hancai Fashion (S) Pte Ltd.
- Chairman of the Quanzhou City Chain Store & Franchise Association
- National People’s Congress representing Quanzhou City since 2007
All his hard work did not go unappreciated as he was also the recipient of several awards such as the:
- “Outstanding Person” recognition from the All-China Federation of Trade Unions in the “Bai Cheng Wan Dian Chuang Pin Pai” event in 2003
- “Outstanding Business Entrepreneur” award from the China Business and Enterprise Management Association in 2007
- “The First Quanzhou City Moral Model” award from the Committee of Quanzhou Spiritual Civilisation Guidance Office in 2008
In 2008, Mr. Chen was also invited to teach Master of Business Administration (MBA) classes at the Hua Qiao University MBA education centre.
“Zhongmin” refers to China and the Min region, as this was what Fujian was called back in the day. “Baihui” means a store with multiple product lines. They offer a wide variety of goods such as fresh products and lifestyle merchandise which caters to middle-income consumers.
Today, Zhongmin Baihui owns ten self-owned department stores-cum-supermarkets, and manage four stores located mostly in Fujian.
The Man in Action
Mr. Chen Kaitong’s latest trading activity was in mid-July 2016, when he increased 1.4 million direct shares of Zhongmin Baihui Retail Group Ltd. at SGD 1.20. He also bought another 500,000 direct shares of the same company in January 2016 valued at SGD 1.76.
Follow Mr. Chen Kaitong’s investing action at https://www.spiking.com/v/chenkaitong and keep tabs on Zhongmin Baihui’s performance at https://spiking.com/sgx/5sr-zhongmin-baihui-retail-grp-ltd. Download the Spiking app at the App Store and Google Play for all the real-time updates from the SGX and more than 11,000 sophisticated investors. Subscribe to the Spiking newsletter now and be on top of the latest stock spiking, game-changers, and stock market news.