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Monday, 4 September, 2000, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
Singapore retail tycoon dies
CK Tang
CK Tang headed a Singaporean retail institution
The founder of one of Singapore's oldest and most famous retail companies, C K Tang, has died at the age of 100.

His first store quickly made Tangs a household name
Company officials say Tang Choon Keng died peacefully at home with his family around him - a cause of death was not given.

The story Mr Tang's business success is regularly held up as a classic rags-to-riches tale of Singaporean entrepreneurialism.

Known in the city-state as both the Tin Trunk Man and the Curio King, he headed one of Singapore's most prominent shopping empires after emigrating from China in 1922 with a pair of tin trunks containing Chinese hand-embroidered linen.

Secrets of success

Initially selling door-to-door from a hired rickshaw, CK Tang built a retail business worth millions of dollars, attributing his success to honesty, integrity and value for money.

The River Valley Road store l
The River Valley Road store launched a business empire
"If you do things honestly then your life will not have any problems," he said in a 1991 interview.

Mr Tang opened his first store on Singapore's River Valley Road in 1934, quickly establishing a reputation for stocking traditional Chinese handicrafts.

In the late 1950s he decided the time had come to expand and against the advice of fellow businessmen he brought a patch of land on the then unfashionable Orchard Road.

Flagship store

The move is credited with sparking the transformation of the area into Singapore's most famous shopping district.

Orchard Road store
The first Orchard Road store paved the way for a shopping revolution
In the early 1980s the Orchard Road flagship store was expanded again, this time to cover more than 15,000 square metres and five floors of shopping space, all marketed under the slogan All The Best Under One Roof.

For many residents and visitors, CK Tang has come to be regarded as a Singaporean shopping institution, along the lines of Harrods in London or Macy's in New York.

Mr Tang officially retired in 1987, but retained the post of company president and was rarely out of touch with company business, personally checking the company's accounts and meeting suppliers.

Orchard Road store
The modern Tangs in the heart of Singapore's shopping district
Tang Wee Sung, one of his three sons, is expected to take over as head of the business.

The son of a Presbyterian preacher, Mr Tang was a staunch Christian and until recently his store was the only one in Orchard Road to be closed on Sundays so his staff could go to church.

It will be closed again this Thursday for his funeral.

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