Connect with us


Hong Kong investment firm acquires Popular bookstore chain

Hong Kong’s ZQ Capital acquires Popular bookstore chain, aiming to bolster its retail and educational services in China and Southeast Asia.



In a significant shakeup in the retail book industry, the prominent Popular bookstore chain has been sold to the Hong Kong-based investment company ZQ Capital, reports the Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao.

While the financial details of the transaction remain private, the acquisition marks a new chapter for the storied bookstore chain, which has been a staple in Southeast Asia since its inception.

Popular Holdings, the parent company of Popular bookstore, operates a widespread network of retail outlets, with a significant presence in Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, totaling 169 stores.

The firm also has extended its reach into e-learning, publishing, and property development sectors. Notably, its expansion efforts have recently focused on China, where it has established several offices.

ZQ Capital, known for an investment strategy resilient to market volatility and focused on long-term industry leaders in China, is poised to leverage Popular’s robust presence in the region.

The acquisition has precipitated the retirement of Popular’s CEO, Chou Cheng Ngok, as indicated in a communication to the company’s Malaysian suppliers. Despite the change in ownership, assurances have been given that Popular’s core values, operations, and employee remuneration will not be disrupted.

Looking ahead, Popular aims to redefine itself as a comprehensive education service provider, capitalizing on opportunities in the burgeoning markets of China and Southeast Asia.

This strategic pivot builds on Popular’s deep roots that trace back to 1924 when it began as Cheng Hing Company, evolving from a comic book specialist into a leading Chinese book retailer following a merger with World Book Company.

Incorporated in Singapore in 1996 and previously listed on the Singapore Exchange, Popular Holdings was taken private by Mr. Chou and his wife in 2015. Since its delisting, the chain has diversified its offerings to include a variety of non-book items to adapt to the evolving consumer landscape.

Nevertheless, Popular has faced challenges with decreased foot traffic and rising operational costs, leading to the closure of several outlets in recent years.

The acquisition by ZQ Capital could provide the necessary impetus for Popular to navigate the competitive retail environment and emerge with a stronger foothold in the market.

Share this post via:
Continue Reading
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Mr Zhou Xin Chu must be a happily retired man. Congrats to him
Let’s face it. He built his book, stationery business worthy of the name and it’s success.
I still posses a Japanese language book published by Popular 45 years ago with me.

And the NLB also has a plaque to honour him – BUT the strange thing I TAKE STRONGLY against NLB, why do NLB did not mention more about him, just his name on the plaque – who the hell know who is Mr Zhou? I believe 9/10 NLB visitors do NOT know who is he.

In private sector, if one cannot adapt to a changing environment, then: a) it gets taken over, or b) close shop. In public sector, if one cannot adapt, then: a) gov pumps in 900m of taxpayers’ monies to keep its propaganda arm alive. b) SingPost just increase charges and pass cost of its incompetency to the ppl. c) call voters Free Riders if too kayu to get a strong mandate in free elections. d) sell coy to an overseas corporate which was able to turn it around in 6 months. Real-life issues of having million$ monkeys as Ownself Praise Ownself… Read more »

Once very popular among the students WAS Popular Bookstore.
Buy assessment books, go Popular.
Buy stationery, go Popular.
When online stores set into the market, Popular becoming no more popular. One by one branches close until even the Head Office also moved.
If MOE is environmental-friendly and high-tech, all teachers and students are using tablets to read and write, instead of using whiteboard markers, paper exercise books and pens.
Same to Challenger. From big stores, shrink to smaller one now. Staff also has attitude problem. Selling stuff also from China but at higher price after repacked….lol.

Why ah? Popular not doing well meh. Everytime ask ppl sign up membership 3 years … Money no enough?!? But can expanding till so many branches wor … Why ah?