In 1924, Mr Chou Sing Chu, the founder of POPULAR, left the shores of China and came to Singapore where he then set up the Cheng Hing Company. The business soon flourished, and the first POPULAR Bookstore was set up along North Bridge Road in 1936 to retail Chinese books. It marked the beginning of a homegrown literary giant that would continue to serve the local community decades later.
POPULAR was among one of the pioneer bookstores that moved in to Bras Basah Complex, and in 1980, it’s Bras Basah branch, named POP@Central, opened its doors to the public. Back then, it was already the largest bookstore in Southeast Asia at that time. Opening the store was only the first step, for there needs to be a much greater variety of products to increase the attraction of such a huge store. It was here that the concept of a creating a one-stop shopping experience became the goal of the new era, and the plan was kickstarted with the sale of English books.
While POPULAR transformed into a bilingual bookstore, it also began stocking products related to reading and learning, such as stationery. They also sought overseas suppliers who could provide fancy stationery items that were all the rage then. More new offerings such as textbooks and assessment books, lifestyle products, multimedia products, Gifts and more also began lining the aisles and shelves at POP@Central.
Over the years, POPULAR’s expansion has established a unique image and presence for the brand in the local market. POP@Central had also grown to a store spanning 35,000 sq. ft., where some of its latest additions include gadgets & IT products, household appliances and titbits. POPULAR’s corporate footprint has also grown significantly, with operations in more than eight regions and a diverse business covering retail, publishing and distribution.
With a long history in the Bras Basah Complex and a rich brand heritage, POPULAR’s growth is one that is mirrored in the nation’s developmental arc. It is truly a homegrown brand that has served generations of people. Many of the pioneer bookstores have come and gone, but with the spirit of transformation, innovation, and progression at the heart of the business, it is with great confidence that POPULAR will be able to ascend greater heights both in Singapore and on the world stage.