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Fijian With $250 Million Business Recalls Road To Success

Fijian With $250 Million Business Recalls Road To Success
From left: Suiva Yee, Diana Fong, and Rowena Fong are participants of the Fiji Institute of Accountants 2018 Congress jointly sponsored by Vodafone Fiji and Westpac Banking Corporation at the Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa on Yanuca Island on May 18, 2018. Photo: Lorraine Seeto
May 19
16:03 2018

 

A successful Fijian business entrepreneur, whose company now has an annual turnover of $250 million, believes his upbringing in Solevu, Bua, on Vanua Levu played a major role in shaping his life and business.

Rob Cromb believes that along with the teachings of his grandmother Adi Filomena Ralogaivau, mother Adi Irarerevaki Ralogaivau and his strong belief that God should be at the forefront, is what saved his business at one stage of his life.

Mr Cromb is the grandson of the late Ratu Josefa Ralogaivau and Adi Folimena of Solevu, Bua.

Speaking on “Thinking Big – The Spirit of Entrepreneurship”, Mr Cromb shared his experiences from growing up in Solevu to moving to Australia and now head of a big women’s fashion retail businesses. He was speaking at the Fiji Institute of Accountants 2018 Congress jointly sponsored by Vodafone Fiji and Westpac Banking Corporation at the Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa on Yanuca Island yesterday.

His company is based in 15 countries worldwide, with more than 235 outlets including Fiji. A new opening is set for the United Kingdom this week and will employ about 3000 workers.

Of this, about 1000 workers are in Fiji and plans are underway to open retail outlets here.

Mr Cromb is head of a clothing business under the KOOKAI brand.

“I think today, more than any other time, my belief that family is wholly to God because it forms the foundation for the children,” he said.

“My grandparents were amazing pillars for me to grow up on.

“It is only when they are gone that you realise how important they are – they are the legs I still stand and walk on today.

“They taught me how I could conduct myself, determination, never to give up and that I was equal and as good as anyone else.

“After I lost my first marriage I almost lost myself and realised that the foundation I had been built on a really fickle love and when it disappeared my business almost disappeared.”

“I got lost in a very dark world for six years,” he said adding his current wife was instrumental in bringing him back from despair.

He related how he opted out of university in Australia and decided to do his own business.

He rented a small shop in Melbourne where he stayed and started selling things, which he said, people did not want.

Mr Cromb then realized that women did not have coloured singlets and t-shirts so he invested in machines, started out with some Fijian women staying there and from a few end products, now has factories all over.

In Fiji his factory is at Kalabu in Nasinu.

“The really interesting thing about people going into business, is if you think of an idea, ask yourself do people really need it,” he said.

“If people need it you are on to something, but if people don’t really need it, forget about it.

“I get people who come to me all the time and say I have a great idea, but if people do not like it I tell them to drop it.

“The market will not reward you if you have a reason to exist.

“The time I created coloured T-shirts. I was competing with general time as everyone had general fashion.

“Where I got my break was that nobody was making coloured T-shirts for girls.

“So I started something that had no competitors and which girls wanted and I had a reason to exist in the consumer’s eyes.”

Edited by Percy Kean

Feedback: charles.Chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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