The name Sheng Siong might be synonymous with supermarkets today, but the family behind it has its roots in pig farming.
Mr Lim Hock Chee, 52, the Sheng Siong chief executive whose mother was kidnapped on Wednesday, was in his teens when his family had a pig farm. It had 3,000 pigs at one point in the 1970s, supplying pork to markets across the island.
A government directive to phase out pig farming in the 1980s turned out to be a multi-million dollar stroke of luck for the Lim family. With their rice bowl taken away, Mr Lim had to find a new income.
He rented space in a mini-mart in Block 122 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 to sell chilled pork. In 1985, he and two of his brothers bought over the mini-mart for $30,000 – and the first Sheng Siong outlet was born.
It is today one of 33 supermarkets run by Sheng Siong. The company went public in August 2011 and has a market capitalisation of $837 million. Net profit for the 12 months to Dec 31, 2012 was $41.7 million.
Mr Lim's brothers continue to serve on Sheng Siong’s board, as executive chairman and managing director. His wife, Ms Lee Moi Hong, is the head of dry goods, according to the 2012 annual report.
The couple have three sons and a daughter. Mr Lim was ranked 35 on Forbes Singapore’s 50 Richest list last year, with a net worth of US$515 million (S$654.3 million).
On Wednesday, his 79-year-old mother was kidnapped along Hougang Avenue 2 (not Hougang Avenue 8 as previously reported based on what the police said). She was released at Seletar West Camp unhurt, after Mr Lim paid a $2 million ransom.
Two men, aged 41 and 50, were arrested in the Hougang-Ang Mo Kio area on Thursday. The money was recovered near a tree in Sembawang Park after the arrest.