Popular bullish on sales, plans more outlets

POPULAR Book Co (M) Sdn Bhd is targeting sales to hit S$223.3mil this year, up 10% from the S$203mil achieved last year, said Popular group chairman and managing director Chou Cheng Ngok. 

Popular Book is the main revenue contributor to parent Popular Holdings Ltd, which is listed on the Singapore stock exchange. Popular Holdings recorded S$306mil in sales last year. 

“We plan to establish more stores in the Klang Valley this year to boost sales. However, it is difficult to target the number of stores to open, as time is needed to look for good locations.  

“We have to ensure that the venue chosen will be profitable,” Chou told StarBiz.  

Popular Book, which has 51 outlets nationwide, also plans to open stores in Perlis within the next three years and also to strengthen its position in Sabah and Sarawak. 

As part of the plan to inculcate the reading habit among Malaysians and to boost sales, the company organised a book festival in Kuala Lumpur City Centre from May 27 to June 4. 

“The key objective of the event was to encourage and promote the reading culture in the country,” Chou said, adding that it was also a platform for publishers from different countries to tap the Malaysian market. 

On Popular group’s competitive edge, Chou Cheng Ngok says it does not have close rivals in the market as it has positioned itself as a one-stop bookstore

Popular Book, which invested RM4mil in the event, targeted book sales of RM15mil. 

The book festival comprised 509 booths, which included exhibitors from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. 

“We arranged some entertaining programmes, such as pizza-eating contests, cooking workshops and creative arts performances. 

“We also invited authors like Lillian Too, Renesial Leong and Peter So from Hong Kong to give talks on feng shui, health and motivation,” said Chou. 

The Malaysian Chinese Association Lifelong Learning Secretariat and Sin Chew Daily were the co-organisers of the book festival, which was officiated by Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting. 

Chou said the book festival would be an annual event for the Popular group in Malaysia and Singapore. 

“We organised a ten-day book festival in Singapore in March this year. The event attracted 330,000 visitors,” Chou added.  

Popular Holdings consists of three core businesses – book publishing, retailing and distribution activities. It has subsidiaries operating in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Canada and Britain.  

The group also publishes and distributes primary school textbooks to Hong Kong, Taiwan and China under its publishing and distribution divisions.  

On Popular group’s competitive edge, Chou stressed: “We do not have close rivals in the market as we have positioned ourselves as a one-stop bookstore.  

“We provide multi-lingual books specially for students, parents and professionals. We also offer stationery, magazines, multimedia and audiovisual products as well as workbooks.” 

Chou said the group imported 50% of its Chinese books from Taiwan, 40% from China and 10% from Hong Kong.  

On the impact of the strengthening ringgit on its imports, he said there would only be a minor effect on the group’s bottom line and did not expect to see significant losses in group earnings.  

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