IMTIAZ HUSSAIN ABBASI: A Businessman Par Excellence

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Atif & Farhan Khan

Chairman Imtiaz Super Market talks to Centreline & DNA

Chairman Imtiaz Super Market gave an exclusive interview to Centreline and DNA. Imtiaz Hussain rose to the pinnacles of fame by dint of his hard work. He shared some of the details as to how he achieved so many successes in his life. Excerpts from his interview are produced here for people’s interest.

Can you first our readers about yourself? Where were you born, your early life?
I was born in 1954 in district Aruba, Abbotabad. We are in Karachi for last sixty years. I came here at the age of nine years. At the age of eleven, I had learnt that ten paisa commodity sold at eleven paisa. I was also studying side by side, I have learnt at which price to purchase commodity and at what price to sell it to avoid loss. I came to business in 1968; we had limited capital and small shop. First, I increased the variety of products. We had limited resource and capital having considering all these aspects; I thought what I could do with this limited capital. I started home delivery on Cycle and appointed a person to deliver items door to door. It was a huge success. We made photocopies of hand written advertisement of our delivery services to home and distributed in the whole Bahadurabad area of Karachi. People were very happy with that service. In 1968, I was the first person who started the delivery service of items in Karachi. It is result of that one cycle that today we have five vehicles. We deliver kitchen items to approximately seven lac people.
In 1971, there was drought in Pakistan and government decided to cut ration. We purchased ration, my mind was diverted from general store as it had already became a big shop. I have thirty five thousand units of ration cards. I had to sell floor and sugar to thirty five thousand people. At an average thousand or eleven hundred people daily came to our shop. I had thirty two people to weigh floor and sugar, nine people for cash collection. In 1974-75, we came again to general store as ration cut was ended in 1977. In 1978, I went to Singapore; there is Al-Mustafa Store there, you will be happy to know that we have maintained very good friendship with the owner of that store. Recently they came to Pakistan from Singapore to meet me. Al-Mustafa Store was new field for me. I observed each and everything of that store in my mind. We had exchange of information. Then, I came back to Pakistan. We still have good relations with their family.
To whom you are inspired in your life? Motivation to join the business?
When I opened my eyes, I was with my father at small general store; I learnt business skills from him. My father, Mr. Hakim Abbasi was a great person. He started a general store business in 1956 later I joined him in 1968. I had very good relations with him. I went to the track of my father.
Most important thing is that you work honestly; your aim should be to serve the people not to cheat them. It was my thinking in 1968 not to made profit but to serve the people and it is still the same today. I have a simple life style, my office and my personal room is non air-conditioned.
Imtiaz supermarket is one of the biggest supermarkets in the city. When and where you started this business.

In 1968, I joined my father business and in 1978 I was able to transform general store to mini supermarket. In 1984, we expanded its size by taking besides shops moreover in 1996 further expansions were made. In 2000, we had a full fledge design of supermarket.
We have old business of rice. We have established a mill of rice. In 2001, we established our second branch at Karachi Awami Markaz. In 2010, we opened third branch of Imtiaz store in Nazimabad. In January 2013, we inaugurated forth branch of Imtiaz store. We are hopeful to open fifth branch of Imtiaz Super Market this year at Teen Talwar Clifton, it will be one lac seventy two thousand square feet.

Please tell us about your family? Are other members of your family are in businesses? Your children?

My children have come in business after completing their education. I have two sons and one of daughter returned from London after completing her education and recently she has joined our business. My one son joined business in 2005 and other in 2008. They are doing well in business.

What are your new plans of expansions of Imtiaz Super Store in Karachi as well as nationwide expansions of your stores?

I am very positive about Karachi, in present situation, I could name lots of countries and other cities and provinces of Pakistan, Karachi are far better for doing business. Business sense and business variety is in Karachi, I have deep research on it. Conditions are improving in Karachi and I am optimistic about the business climate of the city. We have planned to open branches of Imtiaz Super Store in other cities of Pakistan after completion of Karachi.
What are the main challenges you are facing as businessman in the city?
There are many issues including political issues, pressure groups, internal organizations etc. Many things in relation to law and order. By grace of God, we are managing all these things in order to do our business. Ninety-nine percent of people of the city are literate, honest and respectful citizens.
You had a dream of a store which would help makes people lives better, vision of not making profits but helping people save money. Have you achieved your dream?

Very good question, I believe in respecting people by heart, selling items by heart with full responsibility and honesty. The wealth which is in your fate will come to you. We never think about financial gains. When you have complete faith on nature money comes to you. I have a vision to serve people and my children also think in this way. When I had four hundred employees I prayed from God to make it thousand, when I had thousand employees I prayed to make two thousands, now I pray to have twenty thousand employees to share them in our wealth. We want to be beneficial for unemployed people. So they can afford expenses of their families. We sell good quality of items at low price to our customers. We meet with people at our stores and give full energy to them.
How you see the entry of international players into the Pakistani market, such as France’s Carrefour and Germany’s Metro Cash and Carry.
They came here do business and send money to their countries. We our local company, we invest our money in our country; we do not want to go other countries. First thing is that we are for our country, for our city. Second thing is that in the presence of Hyper-Star, Makro here, people have sustained our strength. We are also competing on price and quality. Its clear example is that the store we have owned recently in Defence Area of Karachi, we have taken quite a big share of Hyper-Star. People have said that they prefer Imtiaz Super Market over others.
Tell our reader about Imtiaz Rice, how it benefits the customers? Is it less expensive than the rice of same quality in the market?
We received rice from our farms in Punjab. It processed in our mill. We made different qualities of rice. We sell best quality of rice to our customers. Our latest rice processing unit in Karachi’s Korangi area near National Oil Refinery. Mr. Arif Naqi, Chief Executive Establishment, Imtiaz Store added here that Mr. Imtiaz is so much familiar with the machinery of rice processing unit that when he sat at shop and when there was problem at rice unit machinery, he asked to listen him voice of the machinery over telephone, and exactly identifies the problem in the machine.
Any message to your customers?
For our whole life we are for you. We will keep delivering good quality, low price and good service with respect to our valuable customers. My customer is very respectful for me.
Your role in Pakistan Romania Business Council (PRBS)? Your plans for investment between Pakistan and Romania?

It has been only two months for us after joining (PRBS) as month of Ramadan is near after completion of this month, we will meet with Mr. Sohail Firpo, one of the member of PRBS, if there is need of import and export between these two countries we will definitely do. In case of trade between Romania and Pakistan, it will increase respect of Pakistan.