The roots of Mustafa Centre can be traced to 1952, when Mustaq Ahmad’s (b. 1951) father Haji Mohamed Mustafa (1916-2001) arrived in Singapore from Uttar Pradesh, India. Ahmad’s father and uncle, Samsuddin, started their first business in 1965 in a makeshift shop selling food. In 1971 they decided to switch from food to retail because of the success of Ahmad’s enterprising activities, which started when he and a friend sold handkerchiefs next to his father’s shop. Thereafter, the family started a shop at Campbell Lane that sold readymade garments. By 1973, they had become so successful that they needed to relocate to a larger shop located at Serangoon Road.
Ahmad eventually took over the shop and bought a row of shophouses to accommodate his growing business. He subsequently converted the shophouses into a department store and his business continued to grow. By 1995, the business had grown to become Mustafa Centre. By the end of the first year, Ahmad had acquired additional space for expansion in Serangoon Plaza. In 1997, he acquired a neighbouring plot of land to build a new four-storey extension building. According to a 2003 article from The Straits Times, the shopping centre has “a reputation for selling just about everything from brinjals to diamonds, cameras and airline tickets”. In 2003, Mustafa Centre became the first local department store to be open 24 hours.