Chinese born matriach Hong Ling Siu Chong and her late husband Siu Joy Chong started selling shirts from their factory at Charlotte Street, Port of Spain, in 1947. In 1958, they opened the first Excellent Trading Company on Henry Street. In 2017, her son and managing director of the Excellent Group of Companies, Franco Siu Chong, said it employs 300 people in its six stores, online store and Christmas Store, at Chaguanas.
Siu Chong made this comment at the opening of the newest grand store at Shops of Arima, Tumpuna Road, last Saturday.
“We have 300 employees and we thank them for their service and committment to the brand. The TT business cycle is in a tough but we still believe it is the best time for companies to invest in and expand their operations.
"The best time to expand is when (the cycle) is low. Landlords are very accommodating, so once you set yourself now and can survive at the low point you can reap the benefits during the high.
"These plans (for expansion) were set in motion three years ago. We believe in the cycle of business and we understand that there are times when business is low, like now, and when it is good. In the past, Excellent has ridden the challenging times and survived,” Siu Chong said.
Among those present were Siu Chong’s wife Richalene, grandson Alex, his wife Lisa as well as Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon and Arima mayor Lisa Morris-Julian.
Gopee-Scoon, who paid kudos to Siu Chong business acument, said she was pleased the group had confidence in the economy and decided to invest.
“We all know the constaints. The Government is paying attention to gaps and looking at trends, working diligently for a turnaround. I know I can’t order landlords (to reduce rents) but I want to say that for small and medium-sized businesses, all businesses need to survive, so it is important that landlords offer reasobable lease rates.
"We want to make sure everybody is able to live through (the economic downturn) and be ready for the turnaround.”
An emotional Hong Ling Siu Chong thanked her son for helping her in the family business. “My husband and I worked very hard for us to start but thank God I have my son, daughter-in-law and grandson because without them we wouldn’t have this today. I am very proud.
Morris-Julian welcomed Siu Chong to Arima, and, said he can look forward to a plaque in the future.
She said the Arima branch promised convenience since she no longer had to to travel to Trinicity. "Although I'm not much of Christmas person, my three children will be delighted to shop at Arima."
When Arima store was officially opened, Siu Chong and his team greeted the first batch of customers.