THE CEO GROUP, FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS TO ITS 40TH YEAR IN THE RETAIL INDUSTRY

The CEO Group recently marked a milestone with their 40th year in the retail scene. The house which brings together brands like Sahara, Wall Street, Arrow, IZOD, and more, to the Philippine market has indeed made a mark in our daily dressing. And what better way to cap its months-long celebration but with an event at District 8 in San Juan City.

This occasion comes timely as I am now at a stage where I no longer equate classic and tailored style with old age. If I got introduced to them around 8-10 years ago, I don't think that I'll be able to relate to the brands under The CEO Group's umbrella as much as I do now. You see, experiences like putting up my own business and having been introduced to GQ (where they feature the likes of young guys like Zayn Malik, et al., in modern tailoring) taught me that looking good is not defined by the clothes you wear but rather, the way it makes you feel.
The CEO Group of Companies, headed by power couple Benito & Huy Kun Lim, brings to a close the months-long celebration of their 40th year in the apparel industry, together with business partners, friends, and fans of the the brands they carry.
But more than the stylishness of the brand (or in this case, brands), I easily became a fan of The CEO Group because of how they built a strong and solid company in an industry very much influenced by fleeting trends.

Here's their story:

Starting out as a small manufacturing company in 1978, with little else beyond courage, perseverance, gut feel, and 10 second-hand sewing machines purchased from his future father-in-law, Benito began this business partnership with Huy Kun, then his fiancée. "We began with a small-volume set-up producing ladies' blouses, then eventually switched to school uniforms, which we sold to department stores under the brand name "Sahara."
"I didn't have my own car and the small staff we had was dedicated to production, so I needed to go and present our products, sell them, and make deliveries to department stores, which at that time, were relatively few and far apart, " Benito recounts.
Soon, they would diversify and focus on men's staples. "I have always been intrigued by the fashion industry, particularly men's shirting. A dress shirt appears to be a very basic piece of clothing, but the crafting is complex, and it requires a lot of attention to detail. Besides, I personally like wearing well-made clothes, so I decided to learn how to make them," he shares.

The CEO Group caps its milestone celebration with a fashion show featuring the brands they have developed, established, and grown, and some of their past and current ambassadors, including photographer Nelwin Uy, sports anchor Migs Bustos, sports analyst Christian Luanzon, former ballers Patrick Fran and politician and entrepreneur Francis Zamora.












"It has been an uphill climb, true, but it has been an enriching experience as well, which we couldn't have been blessed with if not also for the people who have been with us from the start, who have believed in us and our products, and the continued support and patronage of our customers," Benito said, toasting to the future of the CEO Group of Companies.

The CEO Group, through the years
In 2000, the couple ventured out of the local field as authorized licensee of American brand ARROW. Later they would be named distributor of Thailand's top fashion label ESPADA.

In 2005, they acquired local men's wear brand CRITERION, expanding their brand portfolio. Afterwards, they created ULTIMO, a brand specifically designed and manufactured for big and tall men. In 2013, the CEO Group was named the new licensee for IZOD and VAN HEUSEN in the Philippines. Most recently, they launched CEO Plus, another brand catering to plus-size male professionals.

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