Island News

More is less at popular supermarket

Written By : ARVIND KUMAR Indian Weekender. When I visited the Food For Less Supermarket New Lynn branch this week, I was expecting to find the head of the store
18 Feb 2011 12:00

image Written By : ARVIND KUMAR Indian Weekender. When I visited the Food For Less Supermarket New Lynn branch this week, I was expecting to find the head of the store sitting behind a desk in an air conditioned office.
Instead, staff directed me towards the butchery where I found Romit Prakash standing behind the meat slicing machine where he was busy helping out his staff as the queue of customers built up.
It is this sort of hands-on commitment and down to earth approach that has seen the rise of the burgeoning Food For Less supermarket group – first in Otahuhu and now in New Lynn.
Twenty eight-year-old Romit, who actually has biomedical qualifications from the Auckland University, manages the New Lynn store while older brother Nilesh, 32, manages the Otahuhu branch, selling all fresh Fiji produce, groceries and meat.
But the humble Auckland brothers attribute unwavering family values as the key to success. Apart from the supermarket, they also own the Globex Importers distributorship.
“Everything we are today has been because of the blessing and guidance of our father,” Romit told the Indian Weekender.
“Dad’s guidance was most important, and we owe every bit of success to him.
“Another key person in our life was dad’s Guruji (now late Pundit Vishnu Kashyap) who guided dad and was behind us buying the Otahuhu branch of Food For Less.”
“We always stick up for each other and the family bond is strong – and that’s what keeps our feet on the ground,” Romit said.
So much so that after all these years, the two brothers – married with children – and their parents (altogether 10) – still live together in the same house they bought in Howick when they first came to New Zealand in 2000.
The family is originally from Eight Miles, Nasinu, about 20 minutes out of Suva City in Fiji towards the Nausori Airport.
Dad Uma Chand, who now prefers remaining in the business background, grew all sorts of vegetables at Eight Miles and was one of the key suppliers to Suva Market.
“In fact after the 1987 coup, dad was the only remaining supplier of vegetables to Suva market.”
But the switch from farming to supermarkets was not easy. Romit was still in high school when the family moved to New Zealand.
While Nilesh, who has sharp business acumen, joined the Food World supermarket in Otara as a receiving clerk, Romit did the checkouts and groceries – gaining valuable experience in the food business.
In 2003, they bought Food World and sold it seven months later, and set their sights on the Food For Less in Otahuhu.
“It was a sinking ship but we managed to turn it around,” Romit said.
“It was hard work and we all pitched together to make it work. There were times when we weren’t sure about certain things, but we carried on regardless.”
The New Lynn branch was opened about 18 months ago, converted into a supermarket from a veggie store.
Today, the success story is a multi-million dollar business with their two supermarkets, and the distribution business and there are plans to expand to other parts of the country.
Food For Less has taken on the might of some of the long established Indian food/grocery outlets – and is winning.
“Our advantage is that we don’t just sell Indian items but also cater for mainstream consumers, and that draws in all types of customers.”
“There are expansion plans, but still in planning stages,” Romit said.
Romit said that through their distribution business, they were able to sell goods cheaper than they were sold in Fiji, mainly because of the stronger New Zealand dollar and the bulk buying nature of their business.
For now, the brothers are content in achieving slow but steady progress, and have every confidence of making it even bigger out of Auckland.

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