Jimmy Fong, the Founder of EpiCentre, shares with us his dream that led to the opening of the first Apple retail store in Orchard Road.
If you were thinking of buying a Mac computer or any Apple product for that matter, chances are you’ll pay your nearest EpiCentre store a visit first. Yet, only a decade ago, you’ll be hard pressed to find a Mac user let alone find a store that’s dedicated to Apple products and accessories. We speak to the CEO of EpiCentre, Jimmy Fong, to find out how it all began.
It started with a dream to provide consumers with a retail experience that showcased the benefits of digital living rather than purely pushing IT products. Furthermore, being an Apple lover and seeing how its products only reached a select group while the masses still remained PC users, Jimmy wanted to take Apple products out from the usual geek haunts and put them into the shopping malls of Orchard Road.
This led to the opening of the first AppleCentre in Singapore in May 2002 at Wheelock Place. Although it was a location not commonly associated with being at the heart of Orchard Road shopping, Wheelock Place was not your run-off-the-mill shopping mall – making it a perfect match for the store’s brand identity and its products.
Right from the start, Jimmy knew that for EpiCentre to succeed in the long run, it needed to find its niche and secure a foothold. The best way to do so he thought was to give customers the best value, best service and serve as a one-stop shop for all their digital lifestyle needs.
It was also vital for him to constantly try out new ideas to convince not just customers, but also stakeholders, suppliers and employees that his vision of digital enjoyment for everyone was achievable.
The continued success of EpiCentre led to its public listing and expansion of up to 20 stores throughout Asia. As the company was now accountable to shareholders and stakeholders, Jimmy had to ensure that the outlets were not run like traditional ‘mom and pop’ stores but were professionally managed and that all objectives and goals set for the company were met.
As a businessman that’s always on the lookout for new opportunities, Jimmy noticed the emergence of a new trend in recent times. Consumers were no longer just interested in getting the latest gadgets, they wanted to personalise them as well.
Convinced that this is where the market is headed, Jimmy unveiled EpiLife, a concept store located at the basement of 313@Somerset specialising in fashion-skewed accessories for Apple products.
Despite having a sound business model, Jimmy shared that budding entrepreneurs must be prepared to make be changes and tweaks along the way. However with conviction and perseverance, he believes that it’s not impossible to find a niche market.