Love for gold and jewellery drove pawnbroker to success

Love for gold and jewellery drove pawnbroker to success

One of Singapore's largest pawnbroking chains, ValueMax, notched up revenues of $509 million last year under the leadership of founder Yeah Hiang Nam.

Eclipsing the half-billion-dollar mark shows just how far the business has come, with revenue soaring 27.8 per cent since 2010.

Pawnbroking may be regarded by some as a rather hard-nosed business, but ValueMax's success stems from Mr Yeah's love for jewellery and precious metals in a career spanning four decades.

The 17-outlet chain is now preparing for a mainboard listing on the Singapore Exchange. Last month, it lodged a preliminary prospectus with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

If the listing goes through, it will be the third pawnbroker to go public, after Maxi-Cash Financial Services and MoneyMax Financial Services made their trading debuts on the Catalist board in the last 18 months.

"The listing will help in our expansion plans, be it to open or acquire pawn shops in Singapore and other countries," said Mr Yeah, 65. ValueMax Group already operates five outlets in Malaysia through its associates.

Mr Yeah's business life can be divided into four parts, starting when the native Malaysian arrived in Singapore in 1965 and found work at a Chinese medicine hall.

After three years, a friend got him a sales job at a jewellery store, where he first developed his interest in precious adornments - and also met his wife.

"I spent 10 years there learning the ropes, like how to tell real and fake gems apart, what pieces were popular among customers as well as evaluating the worth of gold and jade," said Mr Yeah, the chief executive and managing director of ValueMax.

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