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Ram Chandra Agarwal, Vishal Retail

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He quit his Rs. 300 per month job back in the 1980s with a dream. In 2008, he sits on a retail empire worth in excess of Rs. 600 Crore. Good Karma, he says, ensured that nothing or no one comes between him and his success. This month, we have the man who started his business for sheer survival sharing his entrepreneurial story.

What is the story of the entrepreneur behind Vishal Retail Ltd?
I was born and brought up in Calcutta. Before I started my entrepreneurial endeavor, I used to work as an Assistant Manager in a rolling shutter company in Calcutta with a salary of Rs 300 per month. I come from a very average middle-class family. For my family and me, money was required for basic survival. When I started my own business, it was mostly a battle for survival.

In early 1980’s, I noticed people slowly moving away from suiting-shirting to readymade garments. So, I basically just identified the readymade garment business as an opportunity that is not really tapped and holds huge potential. With that in mind, I started off with a 50 square feet store at Laal Bazaar Street in Calcutta, dealing in readymade garments. The store was not owned; I had taken it up on a long-term lease. Now, it spans in an approximately 18-19 lakh square feet area. I did not have any previous experience in the garment business, but I learnt everything gradually.

Back in those days, India was not growing at a fast pace in terms of capital, profitability, competition, etc. Then again, Calcutta was a very middle class city. When I started my garment business, I did not have much capital. I had to borrow money from some of my friends and neighbors. At that time, I pumped in about Rs 5,000-10,000 to begin with. When the store was up and running, the sales generated were also not really good.

My vision was to make it big. I would say, the gradual and successful scaling up happened because I was clear about my vision, the sincerity in my work, and the efforts I made. I found people to work with me quite easily, because I was willing to share my vision, dream and profit with them. In order to make my business grow, I started putting up big sales in Calcutta, which really clicked with the market. In 1994, I opened up my first big store in Calcutta. In 2001, I moved to Delhi where I started by opening a store in Rajouri Garden. The journey from how I started to where I am right now has been tough.

From a turnover of Rs. 146 crore in 2005 to Rs. 288 crore in 2006, and then to Rs. 602 crore in 2007… what vitamin is Vishal Retail on?
Yes, we have been growing at the rate of around 100 percent per annum. You can say there are multiple factors to this speedy growth. India is developing at a very fast pace, and the retail industry is booming. We have been aggressive in our efforts to make Vishal Retail really big. All of us have been sincere and hard working to make this happen.

Why did you choose to have your own manufacturing unit? Manufacturing as well as retailing, how does the combo work?
I always wanted to go into backward integration. The logic is fairly simple; we had a ready buyer in the form of Vishal Retail for that production unit. It benefits both the units as it compliments each other. Moreover, this takes away the dependability on other vendors. This way, we maximized our profits.

India has always been into manufacturing readymade garments. The combination of manufacturing and retailing is working really well for us. Take a look at our slogan. It says “From manufacturing to retail”. I always wanted to see goods flowing directly from the manufacturer to the consumers. With our manufacturing unit, we are doing just that.

Where or from whom did you get your early support?
My mom, Shanta Agarwal, supported me a great deal. She was always there for me. Other than that, I am a person with a very strong will. Whenever I want to do something, I tend to do it with extreme confidence.

What was your first big success? What is the one failure from which you learnt a lot?
It is difficult to place a finger on one single incident to say, 'this is the singular success,' because of which I am where I am today. I can always reminisce some of my milestones as success points. Like starting my first big store in Calcutta’s Dharamtala Street, opening my first store in Delhi’s Rajouri Garden, starting off of the big hyper market in Mathura Road, and so on.

As for the one big failure, you can say that one should not be overconfident about anything. At one point of time, some time in the year 1999-2000, I was overconfident about something, and that did not do very well. I did mention that I am a very confident person, so how do I differentiate between confidence and overconfidence? If you identify a spot at a height that you can reach by jumping and succeed in doing that; that is confidence. If you cannot see clearly what you want to achieve, and you overestimate the height that you can jump; that is overconfidence. I learnt to scale up step-by-step and started seeing my next steps as well.

In your early days, who or what were your biggest critics? How did you handle them?
If you do something that is against the normal and accepted way of doing things, every one seems to be skeptical and always suggest that you better be careful. This happened in my life too. I got to hear statements such as ‘you are too young to do this’, ‘you will fail miserably’, ‘you are moving at an extremely dangerous speed’, ‘do not open so many stores’, and more. However, I was always focused on what I wanted and had faith in what I was doing.

What is the biggest act of faith you received when starting up?
I have always believed in Karma. I think one should always have faith in Karma. If you do the right Karma, you will always succeed. No other person will come in between.

Today, being in the retail business calls for cut-throat competition. In this scenario, how do you acquire the market share, maintain it and grow?
It is all about getting your processes right. It should be smooth, and to implement these processes you need to get the right people. Not just that, you need to delegate authority and power to these people so that the implementing becomes easier. For procuring more market share, maintain it and make it grow, we keep our costs in control and provide good value to our customers. We are always more than 10 percent cheaper than the prevailing market price. We are always implementing new processes by which we try to bring the cost down, maintaining our supply chain, etc. Scale, cost control, right processes, dedicated employees, and many such factors help us achieve this.

How will the arrival of foreign retail brands affect you? How do you plan to handle it?
I think in most of the countries, the biggest retailer almost always tends to be the local retailer. We can always compete with them and give them tough competition at that. We all source from the same countries, such as China, Vietnam, etc. They source a lot of products from India too, where we have a very good base already. Technology is available for everyone today. It will take them three to four years to understand the Indian culture, taste, etc, By then we would be a big corporation in Indian retail industry.

What according to you is the next big change in the retail business?
Right now, I think organized retail occupies only 4-5 percentage of the actual potential. In my opinion, in the next five years this will increase up to 25 percent. That 20 percent jump can be looked at as one big change in the Indian retail industry.

What is your next big dream as an entrepreneur?
Vishal Retail is one of the top three among the Indian retail companies. With some giants like Bharti, Walmart, etc. starting operations in India, I need to still maintain my position in the top three. Overall, I want to be in the top 25 companies in the country. I am chasing that dream; let us see how much I will succeed in achieving that dream.

Comments (23)Add Comment
Request
written by Santosh Kumar Dubey, June 24, 2011
Dear RC Agarwal Ji,

I am a Ph.D. holder with Economics and now persuing MBA with Operation Management.
I want to tag with your organization.
So please send contact details.

Reagrds:
Santosh Kumar Dubey
Cell: 9213032623
Cell 2 : 9310680403
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REJOINNING................RELETED
written by RAM BHAJAN SAINI, April 27, 2011
SIR
I AM EX EMPLOYEE OF YOUR COMPANY.A WORK WITH VISHAL.....2 YEARS.AS T.L........(MANS WEAR.HOME APPLINCES.HOUSEHOLD .LIFE STYLE.)... I DEVLPE MY SKILLS WITH VISHAL .....NOW I WANT TO JOIN.AGAIN......VISHALRETAIL LTD.(MALVIYA NAGAR) JAIPUR..................IF U THINK I AM ABLE OF THIS I NEED YOUR SUPPORT..AND PERMISSION...................................THANKS....
........................................................................................................RAM BHAJAN SAINI. MOB .NO...9001314034 ,,,9602970235
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Vishal Retail chain
written by Kumar Tripurari, January 18, 2011
Dear Sir,

My self Kumar Tripurari from delhi, I have a business Plan/deal for our Vishal Retail chain. I had already discuss this proposal with yr good office & yr office is also interested but due to long term credit i cant proceed further. So i just want to request to u if u seeing this msg pls give me 90 seconds from ur precious time to explain the project. I can assured u through this project we can earn minimum to minimum 1 to 1.5 coror & the turnover of 7 coror within the period of 60 to 75 dys.
Again i request to u PLS IF U SEEING THIS MSG THEN PLS REPLY ME ON kumar29india@gmail.com

With Best Regards
Kumar Tripurari
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...
written by Nishar Kanoje, September 25, 2010
With referance to my email dated 20th Aug,2010. I am thankful that you have given the attention to my problem .

With Regard
Nishar kanoje
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...
written by Nishar Kanoje, September 25, 2010
With referance to my email dated 20th Aug,2010. I am thankful that you have given the attention to my problem .

With Regard
Nishar kanoje
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Time to take rest
written by Satya , September 24, 2010
Ramu Bhaiya,

I think you were always unprofessional in running your business from the very beginning and this has lead to fall of Vishal. The people who were close to you were the ones who have made money from you. And employees who really worked hard for you were dolied when their purpose was over in your eyes. You may have made lot of money but gained no respect / credibility in our eyes.
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Complaint regarding non payment /exchange of item against Credit Note no SR10250001498 dated 14/7/10 for Rs 249, Cashier ID
written by Nishar Kanoje, August 20, 2010
To, Date : 15/8/10
Ram Chandra Agarwal
Chairman & Managing Director
Vishal Mega Marts
Corporate Office
Near Telco Service Station,
Behind Shokeen Property ,
Rang Puri, New Delhi-110037

Dear Sir

Sub: Complaint regarding non payment /exchange of item against Credit Note no SR10250001498 dated 14/7/10 for Rs 249, Cashier ID 202500000026 ,Counter no :R1, Customer Code :2025000000000001 issued by Vishal Mega Mart , 6B,Chopasani Road, Jodhpur.

My self Nishar Kanoje, Plot no 67, Masjid gali, Jodhpur has purchased a T-Shirt of Rs 249 from Vishal Mega Mart, 6B Chopasani Road, Jodhpur. Due to some problem in size I have returned a T shirt on dated 14/7/10 to the above said branch of Vishal Mega Mart. The concern employee of Vishal Mega mart has issued a credit Note of Rs 249 dated 14/7/10 vide SR10250001498 which is valid up to 13/8/10.Again I have visited a concern mart on dated 11/8/10 within the expiry period of credit note to purchase a shirt against that credit note. During billing of shirt the concern employee told me that there was some technical problem with the software, So he could not able to generate the bill & requested me to come again within 3/4 days, He kept that shirt at counter itself & told me that he will give the same shirt when you visit next time .As per instructions from your employee I have again visited on 14/8/10.The person at cash counter, again trying to billing that shirt told me “Sorry Sir, the credit note is expired”. He said I have to email this credit note to my head office for extension of validity & taken my credit note along with him, After keeping me in waiting for half an hour, he came & told me that he has scanned the credit note & mailed it to head office .When I enquired about how many days it will take he said I don’t know, it may take 3 days, 3month or year also, no guarantee at all, forgot the money.
Sir, firstly I have not at fault, I have approached your Vishal outlet within the validity period. Secondly Company has enjoyed itself my money for more than 1 month that to without any interest. My request to you return my money or allow an item to purchase in exchange .If this is deny by the company then I will approach to the consumer court to save my right, also whole expenditure shall be born by you.

This is for your urgent attention

Your Customer


Nishar Kanoje

Plot No 67, Masjid Gali
Choupasani Road,
Jodhpur

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thanking you
written by suresh chand agarwal, August 04, 2010
This has been a reference to my email dated july28,2010, regarding replacement of shirt. I am thankful to you for taking my email into concern and taking immediate step in my favour. Sir, my shirt has been replaced on aug2.
once again, thanks and regards.

suresh chand agarwal
jaipur.
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For Mr.Sankar Roychowghary
written by Rajan Das, August 03, 2010
Sir, Sankar Da wants to contact with you,But he does not get your Mob.
No. or reach you to talk you something.He went to your many shop to take yoyr no & talk with you, So I request you to talk with him and you
no him in your early business time.
Sankar Roychowdhary, Taltolla, Kolkata, 9836014321.
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regular costumer
written by suresh chand agarwal, July 28, 2010
To
Mr. Ram Chandra Agrawal
Managing Director
Vishal Retail Store, Delhi
Sir,
I have purchased a casual shirt on Jnue 18, 10 from your Vishal Retail Store, Malviya Nagar,Jaipur vide bill no.3040000016771, counter no.4 and article no.000000001110001745/MU_CAUSAL SHIRT of Rs.249.00 to wear on marriage of my cousion on July 4, 10(marriage was out of Jaipur). I returned back on July 7,10.
When I again to wear this shirt July 9, 10 I saw the colour of the shirt is faded from the backside near shoulder. I went to store in evening on July13, 10 for replacement. There a person told me that this will be done by branch manager head.
I met him and show the condition of the shirt and urge him to replace the shirt. He told me that this will not be replace because exchange will be within seven days. I told him, sir, it is not a exchange, although its a defective for replacement, but he was not agree, Then he told me that there is no guarantee on colour of cotton items and show me the term and condition on back side of the bill and misbehaved to me.
I told him, sir, that the shirt is still not washed (in you terms and conditions of the bill written that no colour gaurentee on cotton wash item). Still I have not washed the shirt and it is not wearable.
Sir, my family and my friends’ circle families is regularly purchasing garments from your Malviya Nagar store from last 4-5 years and we have not get any complaints on your garments items.
Sir, this is the first time when my shirt become the defective before wash and it is not wearable.
I am requesting you; please look into the matter sympathically and to continue your costumers. Please do the needful for replacement of the shirt.
Thanking you
Suresh Chand Agarwal
9/646, Malviya Nagar,
Jaipur-302017
Mob no. 9413453395
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share broking house
written by RIA GHOSH, June 30, 2010
I WANT TO KNOW MORE EXCELLENT IDEAS TO BCOME A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS PERSON.GOD BLESS YOU N YOUR VISHAL FAMILY
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job
written by Harvinder Singh Mehra, April 15, 2010
dear sir,
good after noon
we have 8 year experience in SAP we know MM,PP,SCM
so i req for you if any job call me
thanks
Harvinder Singh
9968787627
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...
written by Subhamay Das, March 15, 2010
Sir,one year back I was an employee in your organization ( Z/O ) & I have learnt lot of things from this concern so that I would like to thank you & my colleagues, I have left my job on 4th march'2009.

This is my earnest request if you arrange to give me my PF ammount then it will be very helpful to me.

My details are given below:-
Emplyee code-G03744
D.O.J- 01/12/2007
D.O.L- 04/03/2009
P.F.No. DL/26342/20974
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sir
written by naina, February 28, 2010
vishal needs professionalism in which vishal lack,as a well wisher i say please increase the intake of vishal be professional if u want to compete wid big bazaar,e bay and others ,unless u will be bankcrupt....
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Vishal will need help of Mr. Sunil Hirawat
written by Ajit Mohanty, January 22, 2010
Hi Ram Sir,
I am your one of the well wisher. I think this is the right time to get back your well wisher. Wishing to great sucsess in your life.


Regards,
Ajit Mohanty
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Reason For Big Fall
written by S.S Thakur, December 20, 2009
The main reason for Big Fall is PROFESSIONALISM, this word changed the company’s entire setup.

Numerous professionals, well wishers as well employee came to increase the business but all proved failure and increased the loss to the company.

The same is still going on, and in this time the main CEO Level is not considering the Business i.e. sale they only looking the Mean less reports and Formats.

I would like to say that Its not a way, just change the mind all of them.

Its required for better future of Vishal Retail

Thanks & Regards,
S.S Thakur

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REALITY OF VISHAL RETAIL
written by Sinchal, October 22, 2009
mr agarwal says that he belive in KARMA, BUT REALITY IS MR AGARWAL IS NOT BELIVE IN KARMA,BECAUSE IN THIS RECESSION PERIOD HE WAS TERMINATE SO MANY HARD WORKING EMPLOYEES NOW SITUATION IS VERY WORST IN VRL, MR AGARWAL YOU ARE THE ONE OF THE BIG LOOSER IN THE WORLD OF RETAIL,I'LL SUJJEST YOU KICKOFF YOUR GROUP PRESIDENT MR AMBEEK KHEMKA (WHICH DONT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT RETAILING),THEN YOU SEE THAT YOUR COMPANY WILL GOES UP, MR. SUNIL HIRAWT, IF VISHAL IS SHUTDOWN HIS BUSINESS THEN YOU WILL NOT GET ANY JOB IN INDIA BECAUSE YOU ARE ALSO NOT CAPABLE, GROWTH OF VISHAL IS NOT DUE TO KARMA IT IS BY LUCK
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Vishal retails rise and fall !!
written by Anoj, July 19, 2009
Yes ofcourse! Mr Agarwal has put on lot of efforts and he has accomplished. How come this (09)year we come accross that vishal has clsoed so many stores and it is closing all of its stores? Is there any problem in profit making or internally?
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Thanks Vishal Retail limited
written by Ajit mohanty, July 10, 2009
From Visahl Retail Ltd to ITC Ltd & Aditya Biria Gropu. This all are possible for Mr Ram Chandra Agarwal along with Mr Sunil Hirawat, Renu Agarwal, Dinesh joshi & Ritesh Rathi.Specially thanks to Mr Ayush Jena & Sanket Saxena who gives a chance to work with Vishal with the experiance of fresher.

Still I am waiting for work with Vishal Retail Ltd after gaining lot of knowledge from company like ITC & Aditya Birla.

Freshers-: Just go & join Vishal for a bright future.
Thanks & Regards
Ajit Mohanty
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really He is a nice man
written by Ajit mohanty, June 29, 2009
Acttualy Mr Ram Chandra Agtarwal ( Ram Vaia) is a nice man. He is always belive to interduce freshers to his retail company & teach them how to goal as like he. I am also from Vishal Retail Limited & I am proud for Vishal along with Mr ram Chandra Agarwal & Mr Sunil Hirawat.


Regards,

Ajit Mohanty
+919836939200
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Good Karma Great Result
written by Praveen Singh, June 25, 2009
Dear Bhaya,

Its nice to c the Group is incrasing day by day, God bless you & Vishal Family.
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KAUSTAV JI TEXTILE
written by kaustav sil, November 29, 2008
I am readymade shirt manufacturer & supplier.
I am interested to supply my product to your company.
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...
written by keshav , July 23, 2008
As a student and as a child from same family background as him, I also share a few dreams with Mr Agarwal. His story has really taught me a lot. Thank you, sir.
Thank you DARE
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