Metro’s property bet

Famous for its department stores, Metro Holdings is reinventing itself as a property investment and development company
Metro has been a recognisable brand among three generations of Singaporeans since the group’s founder, Ong Tjoe Kim, opened the flagship Metro store at 72 High Street in 1957.
At its peak in the early 2000s, the retail brand had 11 department stores in Singapore. With e-commerce reshaping the retail industry in recent years, the group has introduced its own online-to-offline user experience with an online store.
The company has also scaled back its physical presence. Today it has only three department stores in Singapore, located in The Centrepoint and Paragon shopping malls along Orchard Road, as well as in Causeway Point, one of the largest suburban malls located in Woodlands.
Metro at The Centrepoint (Pictures: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
However, the listed company, Metro Holdings, has been quietly transforming itself into a property investment and development player since 2012.
As part of this strategy, Yip Hoong Mun, a former senior executive with one of Singapore’s biggest listed property groups, CapitaLand, was appointed Metro’s group CEO and executive director with effect from June 1.
Yip succeeds the incumbent Lawrence Chiang, who assumed the role of CEO in 2016, following the death of Jopie Ong, 75, the founder’s son, in February that year.
None of Ong’s four children was keen to take over the business as they have established their own careers outside the company, according to Chiang. As such, the listed company began a search process with management consulting firm Korn Ferry and headhunted Yip.
New leadership to drive strategy
Prior to joining Metro, Yip had spent more than 20 years within CapitaLand, where he was managing director of the group’s hospitality business, Ascott China, in 2003. He was later appointed Ascott Ltd’s CEO for Asia Pacific and the Gulf Region in 2006. During his tenure at CapitaLand, he was also involved in property development in the Gulf Region, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Yip joined Metro as group COO and CEO of Metro China in January 2017. In May last year, he assumed the role of deputy group CEO.
Yip Hoong Mun was appointed Metro's group CEO and executive director with effect from June 1