Everyone has a desire to reach giddy heights in life. And we know success does not come easily. Let us talk about a person whose business legacy goes way back before Independence. “Khimji Jewellers”- The name is not new to anybody in Odisha. The history of Khimji Jewellers goes back to its small beginning. Mr.Khimji Dayabhai started their first jewellery shop in 1936 in Baripada. Khimji Jewellers is as old as the state of Odisha. After reorganization of the big joint family at Baripada, Mr Dinesh Khimji along with his father and uncle Mr. Kishore Khimji started the first Khimji jewellery showroom in Sriya Square, Bhubaneswar. The charm of exclusive collection such as Astavinayak, Vaikuntha and the vibrant red logo of Khimji is hard to be missed. In their well-lit store and flawlessly organized columns of necklaces, bangles, rings and earrings the sales executive helps a middle aged couple select jewellery designs for their daughter who is soon to be married. Understanding the emotions of the parents and keeping in mind the young girl’s desired choice, the sales executive showcases elegant jewellery and builds a long lasting relationship. The charismatic Mr. Mitesh Dinesh Khimji known as the reigning king of jewellery trade and Director of Khimji Group, exclusively shared with team Coffee Bytes about his journey in the trade and diversified business.
Was getting into the family business of jewellery an obvious choice?
I always believed that be it any business, if the idea doesn’t ring a bell in your ears, then it is not for you. For me, jewellery rang that bell in my ears. I was attracted to jewellery business from the very beginning. In my childhood, I use to see my father and uncle in jewellery business and I always wanted to do something within the family business.
What is your business style?
When I started the form of business was centralised. But I believe more in a decentralised form of business.With decentralization, growth in business sets in.
Who is your role model?
My grandfather Late Khimji Dayabhai. We at Khimji value his ethics and policies. Till date, we give our best effort to adhere to his guidelines in business.
Can you throw some light on your business journey?
I was an absolute novice in gold business. I started picking up the nuances of the trade and my education helped me to grow. In 1999 when I entered the business, it was then a family business. I had a vision of owning a chain of stores at multiple locations. I restructured the whole business from family business to business through system and process. In 2001, we became the first jeweler in Odisha to get ISO 9001:2000. During that phase, I took one of the biggest decision in my life to shift the showroom from Sriya Square to Janpath which didn’t have the glamour of high street or branded retail support as of today. Usually, a jewellery store which start operating at one place, never change the place or might open in parallel location. But I knew opening a parallel store won’t work out. We felt squeezed up with increased footfall so I had to take the decision. We had land so we built the flagship showroom. With such expansion I had to implement ERP across the organisation which would make my work easy and help me grow faster. In 2008, we were the first jewellery retail company in India to implement ERP tied up with Microsoft dynamics. It became a casestudy in Microsoft’s South East Asia blog. It was a very difficult task as well as very expensive during those days. It was a big risk then and we took the risk. Fortunately it clicked. In 2009, we desired to expand more so we needed expert advices. We roped in KPMG, one of the world’s top four consulting firms. We handed over the project to give us a complete foresight with a vision of next 20 years and advisory suggestion like restructuring and reorientation on our business and we started following it. At that point the family based management transformed into a process based management. We expanded to six locations without franchising system and all outlets are owned and operated by us.
Other than Jewellery business, Khimji group has diversified into automobiles, lifestyle and real estate. Tell us something about those ventures.
For the automobile sector, with Honda, I had a sentimental value attached to it. When I was in Baripada, we were one of the first Kinetic Honda dealers. So when I came across Honda dealership in Bhubaneswar, I decided to enter into automobile sector. In 2012, we were the highest selling dealer. Secondly, we didn’t want to shut our first store so converted the same into Wills lifestyle showroom (as a franchisee) and that is not the core business of the company. Since we are known as a trusted brand for the last 81 years and being the 3rd generation of Khimji we ventured into real estate.
What is your mantra of success?
Transparency in transaction. But it is more on standing by commitments and building relationship with customers Jewellery is not something you sell and forget…its the beginning of a relationship. We have invoices from 1942-1965 in our archives. My grandfather used to give invoices signed by him, when there was not much of adherence to taxation. The surprising part was that a customer gave these invoices to us while she was exchanging her grandmother’s old jewellery made by us. The grandmother had preserved the bills.We respect the value of Trust and Commitment in all ventures.
You have been director of All India Gems &Jewellery Trade Federation, tell us something about it.
There is an annual jewellery show Indian International Jewellery Show (IIJS) which is held in Mumbai. Jewellers from all around the world congregate there. When excise was levied and there was nationwide protest. Some like minded people from the jewellery industry were surprised to find that there was no association for the domestic jewellers. There the seed was sown for the federation and we were the founding members. After two years I got into Board of Director and was the youngest Director for almost 4 years. Now it’s a powerful jewellery industry body which interacts regularly with Government regarding policies towards betterment of trade.
What does money mean to you? Are you inclined to materialistic or spiritual side of life?
What does money mean to you? Are you inclined to materialistic or spiritual side of life?I have never evaluated any business success of mine in terms of money. But yes, it is a by-product. While running a business, you are not alone, you should always keep in mind you have employees. Today in Khimji Group, we have employed more than 500 people. In other words it is 500 families who depend on us directly and indirectly. So yes, money is important. With relation to inclination, I am a spiritual person though I confess I’m not a regular temple goer but I listen to my conscience. Honestly, I am not that spiritual to renounce the materialistic pleasures (laughs).
Between strategy and culture, what do you believe is most important for a leading business house such as yours?
Both go hand in hand. Strategy alone won’t work it has to be backed with a good working culture. For business to grow there has to be a fine tuning of both these aspects.
Brief us about your future plan?
We are on expansion mode not on hyper expansion. We have almost covered all major cities of Odisha for our jewellery divison. Currently, we are looking forward to Sambalpur and Balasore. In automobiles we are mainly into two wheelers. We h a v e expanded to Royal Enfield for the niche market which will be operational in the upcoming month and Kawasaki for the super niche market of super bikes which will be open within the next few days. In a way, completing the entire spectrum of two wheelers.
What advice would you give to the budding entrepreneurs?
Don’t expect instant results. Don’t quit, be patient and stay focused
By Upagupt Mohanty