Ron Sim founded OSIM International Limited, a high-end massage chair making company. In 2016, he took over the private company and founded V3 Group, a leading Asian luxury brand consisting of lifestyle and wellness-focused OSIM, TWG Tea, LAC and GNI.
Growing up in a large family with seven siblings, Ron had to take on odd jobs such as selling prawn noodles and being a waiter to support his family at a very young age, and fund his own education fees. It was during this tough time that he discovered his sales ability.
Ron Sim did not continue his studies after his ‘O’ levels and set up his first company in 1979 with four partners but it did not work out. Thus, in 1980, Ron registered his own company as R. Sim Trading Pte Ltd which specialized in trading household goods but had to close down due to recession in 1985.
Despite the recession, he saw an opportunity to enter the wellness industry and started Health Check & Care in 1987, where the company’s products were mainly massage chairs, household goods and health-care related products which contributed to a huge success with 10 outlets in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
It was only later on in 1994 that Ron realized the company needed a more distinctive name to be trademarked and renamed the company as ‘OSIM’ – a combination of his own surname, with the “O” to represent the globe. In the efforts to expand the products they offered, they acquired the GNC franchise, which sells nutritional supplements. In 2003, OSIM continued to expand across the world and in 2009, OSIM launched their concept store – “Chair inspirations by OSIM’.
However, Sim found his niche in massage chairs, teaming up with Japanese engineers almost 30 years ago to impart OSIM ‘s chairs with the sensation of a genuine shiatsu massage and then build a factory near Shanghai to keep costs low. In 2000, Sim bought OSIM International public, selling just over 25 percent of its shares in a transaction valuing the firm at just S$71 million. Today, its top-of-the-line massage recliner, the S$6,199 uLove2, promises to mimic the sensation of having two masseurs, and OSIM is the market leader in massage chairs in Greater China, Malaysia and Singapore.
OSIM International Limited is currently the global leader in luxury lifestyle products. Today, OSIM has a wide network with more than 414 outlets in 98 cities across 21 countries such as China, New Zealand and South Korea. OSIM currently has more than 100 innovative products ranging from massage chairs, air purifiers and travel neck pillows which covers the four focuses of ‘Relax + Relieve’, ‘Tone + Shape’, ‘Check + Measure’ and ‘Clean + Purify’.
The Group is driven by innovation, and is a developer of IP (intellectual property). OSIM is using innovative selling approaches and is constantly enhancing its capacity for innovation to produce successful products with superior designs, features and quality.
Today, OSIM operates a large point-of – sale network of over 560 OSIM outlets in Asia , Australia, Africa , the Middle East, UK and North America. At present, the company falls under four complementary focuses. Together, these focuses reflect the holistic and integrated approach to healthy lifestyle embraced by OSIM.
- Health Focus is about helping you to make the right choices in managing your healthy lifestyle.
- Hygiene Focus is about clean air, clean water and clean environment for your home and office.
- Nutrition Focus is about supplementing your daily nutritional needs for a balanced diet.
- Fitness Focus is about bringing the convenience of fitness to the comfort of your home.
Yet in 2005, when OSIM, Singapore’s sovereign fund Temasek and Boston-based private equity company J.W. taught Sim a costly lesson. For Brookstone, the U.S. specialty store known for its quirky devices, Children charged $450 million. Although the move offered a way for OSIM to market its chairs in nearly 300 U.S. stores in Brookstone, the organization struggled to make the transition to online shopping. In 2009, OSIM took a $100 million writedown on Brookstone, which went bankrupt in 2014.
But even as Credit Suisse, Bank of China’s BOC International and New York-based investment bank Jefferies were lining up potential investors, Sim was being courted by KKR, which offered not only funding, but also a potential solution to OSIM’s sluggish sales.
Sim and his executives are working closely with KKR to get V3 running on all cylinders. According to UK-based research firm TechNavio, OSIM, one of the top 10 massage chair brands in the world, has been the top priority. With KKR, Sim and his team reorganized OSIM ‘s network of shops to better tap the growing urban middle class in Northeast Asia and supply V3 ‘s luxurious tea brand, TWG, into an even larger global player.
That means more tea to sip while you have your massage.
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