Zhang Wenzhong, the founder of Wumart which is one of the earliest and biggest retailers in China was cleared of financial misconduct in 2018 after previously spending more than five years in prison. Now, three years later, as the Chinese businessman has revived the supermarket business that he founded, he weighed in on his life and said, “If you really have a strong heart…you will become stronger.”

As per the Bloomberg report, Zhang will also be launching two initial public offerings, one in each Hong Kong and the United States. It is also a significant reversal of fortune for the 59-year-old as his 1994-founded Wumart languished following the conviction of fraudulently receiving funds from the state.

Zhang was also reportedly convicted of bribery related to a business he had tried to acquire and also for using money from an insurance firm in a bid to trade for personal gain. Even though the convictions were overturned by a Chinese court in 2018, Zhang had to face a deserted company after he returned from prison. In an interview with Bloomberg Television, he weighed in on his tumulus experience saying that it “let me really understand life is short. Everything can suddenly happen to you. In the meantime, everything will just pass.”

Drawing on his experience in the prison, Zhang said, “If you really have a strong heart, if you really survive from those kinds of hardships, you will become stronger…You can survive in different seasons.”

Wumart used innovation to boost business

Reportedly, in the period since his release in 2013, after having already served a reduced sentence, the Wumart founder made his company a renowned player in China’s hyper-competitive supermarket sector again. He achieved the feat by pivoting Wumart stores, knowns as Wumei in mandarin, the direction of innovations similar to tech giants like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and JD.com Inc. aced in China’s reportedly $1.3 trillion groceries market. The innovations for Wumart included rapid delivery of fresh groceries and providing the customers with the option to avoid check-out centres and pay through mobile phones.

As per the report, Wumart has used its offline supply chain advantages in order to launch sub-brands that sell fish and vegetables good only for a day. Now, the company delivers to at least 94% of Beijing compounds within the fifth ring road in as fast as 30 minutes while its hypermarkets serving as fulfilment centres. Zhang has previously reportedly battled to build scale, borrowing to purchase majority stakes in the Chinese business of UK-based home-improvement chain B&Q Ltd. and German wholesaler Metro AG.

Now, the 59-year-old is eyeing to raise as much as $1 billion in an IPO in Hong Kong for WM Tech Corp., which is a unit that includes the company’s two flagship chains including Wumart with 426 stores and Metro China with 97 such centres. Separately, Zhang has also founded an e-commerce platform named Dmall Inc. that provides its customers with online retail solutions. Backed with investors such as Tencent Holdings Lits, Dmall is reportedly planning to list in the US during the second half of this year.