Most working professionals in Singapore might be familiar with the brand G2000. However, not many would have heard of its parent company, Wing Tai Holdings Limited (SGX: W05). But as it turns out, Wing Tai’s also the one working behind the scenes, helping distribute other famous apparel retail brands like Topshop, Fox, and Dorothy Perkins etc. From its roots as a small garment manufacturer in Hong Kong in the 1950s, Wing Tai has successfully transformed itself over the years into a diversified multinational corporation. Today, Wing Tai, with a market capitalisation north of S$1.3 billion, is one of Singapore’s leading property…
Most working professionals in Singapore might be familiar with the brand G2000. However, not many would have heard of its parent company, Wing Tai Holdings Limited (SGX: W05). But as it turns out, Wing Tai’s also the one working behind the scenes, helping distribute other famous apparel retail brands like Topshop, Fox, and Dorothy Perkins etc.
From its roots as a small garment manufacturer in Hong Kong in the 1950s, Wing Tai has successfully transformed itself over the years into a diversified multinational corporation.
Today, Wing Tai, with a market capitalisation north of S$1.3 billion, is one of Singapore’s leading property developers and lifestyle companies. Besides developing properties and helping distribute renowned fashion brands, the company is also involved with hospitality management and the franchise of food & beverage concepts.
I found the story of Wing Tai fascinating, so here are four milestones about the company.
Where it all began
Cheng Tik Hung, the founder of Wing Tai, fled from China and started the company in Hong Kong in 1955 to make jeans. He subsequently moved to Singapore in the early 1960s after he had concerns over the long-term prospects of Hong Kong.
In 1963, The Wing Tai Garment Manufactory (Singapore) Limited was incorporated with the establishment of a factory. It was the first factory to produce jeans in Singapore and was in a great position to meet the enormous growth in apparel demand happening in Asia in the 1960s and 1970s. Within a few years of Wing Tai setting up shop in Singapore, the company opened another garment manufacturing subsidiary in Malaysia called DNP; the subsidiary had two factories in the country churning out apparel.
DNP eventually got listed on Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange and became a successful garment manufacturer exporting high quality products from Malaysia to many wealthier countries in the world. From the 1970s to 1980s, Wing Tai grew to be among the largest garment manufacturers in Asia.
From manufacturing to retail
With the continued success in its manufacturing business, the firm decided to enter Singapore’s fashion retail market through a subsidiary named Wing Tai Retail. Despite stiff competition in the retail industry, the company was able to brave through the difficulties through innovative strategies, new technologies, and an emphasis on continuous staff development.
All these has led to the company having more than 240 retail outlets today in Singapore and Malaysia through franchised brands like Yoshinoya, Uniqlo, and G2000.
Taking advantage of the property markets
In 1978, Wing Tai made a strategic move into the real estate business to tap into the potential of the buoyant property market in Singapore. Subsequently, Wing Tai also expanded its real estate operations into Malaysia and Hong Kong. The company also has partnerships and consortiums that invests in the property markets of China.
Over the years, Wing Tai had developed around 113 properties in Asia and this segment has grown into the most important business for the company; in 2014, the segment accounted for 92% of the company’s total EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes).
Besides the development of properties, Wing Tai also has other fingers in the real estate pie through its hospitality division which comprises of an established chain of up-market serviced residences. The company manages serviced residences under the Lanson Place umbrella, a premium hospitality investment and management brand in Asia.
Wing Tai started its journey six decades ago as a garment manufacturer and gradually worked its way up to where it is today. It’s also interesting to note that Wing Tai generally enters into joint ventures with other companies when it wishes to expand into new business sectors.
By doing so, the company is able to tap on its partners’ experience and get things off the ground at a much faster pace and with lesser risks. If anything, this might be a sign of Wing Tai’s outlook when it comes to business: There’s always someone more knowledgeable out there and one should never stop learning.
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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor James Yeo doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.