My bag

Window shopping helps him de-stress

Mr Chris Chong begins each work day by taking a walk around Ion Orchard mall.
Mr Chris Chong begins each work day by taking a walk around Ion Orchard mall.ST PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI

Chris Chong, chief executive officer of Orchard Turn Developments, says that about 60 per cent of his new purchases come from Ion Orchard

ON HIS BAG I like the colour tone of this Louis Vuitton Tadao PM NM Damier Graphite tote bag, which I bought about 11/2 years ago. It's easy to match it with outfits and it can be carried on both formal and casual occasions. I also find it hardy and roomy. I can put a lot of things in it.

Walking is a key part of Mr Chris Chong's daily work schedule.

The 44-year-old chief executive officer of Orchard Turn Developments, which manages Ion Orchard, begins each work day by taking a walk around the eight-floor, 640,000 sq ft mall (net lettable area). The other entities of the Developments are The Orchard Residences and Ion Orchard Link.

"Having eye contact - seeing the shops first-hand - is very important," he says.

As he walks, his eyes take in everything.


Mr Chris Chong begins each work day by taking a walk around Ion Orchard mall. ST PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI

If he spots anything amiss, he sends a WhatsApp message to a group chat his key employees are in, so that the problem can be fixed.

"Retail is detail," he declares. "Details matter to me."

  • Things in his bag

  • PAIN RELIEVING PATCHES

    My wife always gets medicated plasters for me in different forms because I get neck and back aches. She just got this pack for me last month.

  • DIOR HOMME COLOGNE

    This is my favourite cologne. I put this on twice every day, in the morning and afternoon. The scent is citrusy, refreshing and not too strong.

  • PRADA EDWARD ROBOT KEYCHAIN

    I bought this from Milan, Italy, during a family trip in 2013. I thought it was very cute and not an item one would typically associate with Prada. I use it to hold all my bank tokens. It is a light touch to serious banking matters.

  • TALES OF TROY AND GREECE BY ANDREW LANG

    This is a very old book which I've had since I was in Primary 4. It was a book prize for coming in first in class as a student in Cedar Boys' Primary School. The book fascinates me and transports me to a different time each time I read it. It's therapeutic.

  • ANISE OF FLAVIGNY CANDIES

    I like the liquorice-like taste of these anise-flavoured breath fresheners, which I bought in France. It's not too sweet.

    My wife and children do not like it, so I would say it's an acquired taste. Whenever I go to France, I purchase two to three packs of these.

  • ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA IPAD CASE

    I'm not a fan of iPad covers. I prefer this because I feel it keeps my iPad safe. There are other compartments in the case, which I use for putting receipts, event invites and vouchers.

  • M. CRAFTSMAN PORTABLE CHARGER

    A friend gave this to me. He works in the retail business and was contemplating bringing this product into the market here. It works well, has a nice neon light and is trendy and fashionable.

After the morning walk, he goes for meetings, and lunch is usually at one of the eateries in the mall.

These "food tasting" sessions, as he terms them, are also to ensure that the mall's food options stay relevant.

If he is stressed out by work at mid-day, he goes for a walk again.

Checking out window displays and new merchandise helps him de-stress and pretty often, he ends up giving himself a good dose of retail therapy. About 60 per cent of his new purchases come from the mall.

He used to feel guilty buying items from other places, but has since come to terms with it, believing that "the retail pie is big enough".

Mr Chong - he is married to housewife Njauw Lan Ing, 41, and they have two daughters aged 12 and 10 - shops at Ion for substantial purchases, though.

For example, he recently spent about $500 at Japanese clothing store Uniqlo on coldwear for a holiday to Hokkaido, Japan, with his family.

The current economic climate may be less than rosy and Mr Chong says retailers should look beyond market challenges to see if they are selling to the right people, he advises.

"Know your consumer and give them what they want to see, buy and feel."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'Window shopping helps him de-stress Things in his bag'. Print Edition | Subscribe