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Metro department store: 12 things you need to know about the brand

Published on Mar 6, 2014 7:21 PM

Metro announced that it will be taking over the space at The Centrepoint after Robinsons' lease ends in May. Here are 12 things you need to know about the department store.

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1 Founder Ong Tjoe Kim, who is an avid film buff, named Metro after Hollywood’s famed film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Its Chinese name Mei Luo means “beautiful textiles/clothes”.

2 The first Metro store was opened in Surabaya, Indonesia, in 1952.

3 Indonesia-born Mr Ong was forced to move to Singapore due to rising anti-Chinese sentiments. He opened the first Singaporean Metro store in a two-storey shophouse at 72 High Street, which he considered “more upmarket than Chinatown”.

4 Metro was originally aimed to cater to rich housewives or "tai-tais" from Indonesia and Singapore. Other department stores such as Robinsons catered to expatriates and C.K. Tang (now known as Tangs) was more popular with locals.

5 Metro is responsible for bringing in retailers such as Toys R Us, Esprit, K-Mart, Cartier, Piaget, Tag-Heuer and Burberry to Singapore. The company also co-founded The Hour Glass in 1979, a luxury watch retailer.

6 In 1990, Metro was the only department store to have covered Europe with its country promotions, which are so extensive that even cultural shows were staged.

7 Metro paved the way for local and regional designers during the 1980s to 1990s. In 1985, it started popular in-house workwear label Marissa in 1985. And in 1990, Ananas, a local label for evening wear. The store also featured apparels from Project Shop and Biyan.

8 Metro holds the Singapore franchise for Britain's Monsoon and Accessorize stores.

9 Metro now has just four department stores in Singapore - one in swanky Paragon Shopping Centre and three others in Woodlands, Sengkang and City Square Mall. It will replace Robinsons as the anchor tenant at The Centrepoint after the latter's lease ends in May 2014.

10 Metro does not only focus on retail. The group is also involved in property investments, both of which are its core businesses today. In 1974, the company took a 27 per cent stake in the development of a vacant site in Orchard Road, which later became Ngee Ann City, which they sold off in 2005. The company is also a major property investor in China.

11 Metro branched out to the hospitality industry with the building of a A$75 million (S$84.4 million) hotel in Cairns, Australia, named The Oasis Resort.

12 Metro is currently headed by founder Ong Tjoe Kim's son, Mr Jopie Ong.