So much more than a chain of retail outlets, the Melcom Group seeks to supply everything that Ghana needs through a range of conveniently located and beautifully maintained premises, as well as a significant online presence. Endeavour Magazine looked at the history underpinning this exceptional organisation, to find out the secret to its success.
It can be easy to assume that any successful retail group started out due to a desire for commercial profitability, but there is something far more admirable behind the evolution of the Melcom Group: a heartfelt love for Ghana. Mr. Bhagwan Khubchandani, Chairman of the Group, explained how his father’s vision enabled Melcom to come into being:
“Many may be surprised to discover that our journey in Ghana actually began 89 years ago, in 1929, when Ghana was known as the Gold Coast. My late father, Mr. Ramchand Khubchandani, immediately fell in love with the country and its people upon his arrival and decided to settle here. After working tirelessly for 17 years as a shop manager, he had saved enough to start his own business and made the decision to do so with his younger brother.”
Skip ahead to 1989 and the intrinsic appreciation of Ghana, the community and its people that Bhagwan was born with had translated into a phenomenal business idea; a Group that could fulfil the varied needs and desires of an entire nation:
“The Melcom Group of Companies caters to B2B, institutions and the basic household needs of the general public. Melcom, through its brands and businesses, provides services and support notably through ‘Melcom Ltd’, which is the retail arm of the business both in brick and mortar as well as online (melcomonline.com). It also has other businesses such as CrownStar Electronics (Service arm), Century Industries (Plastics Manufacturing), Melcom Hospitality (Food & Beverages), Melcom Travel and Tours (Travel Agency), Melcom Care Foundation (CSR) and other support businesses.”
Having conceptualised and founded the Group with his sons-in-law or, as he likes to say, “sons-in-love”, Bhagwan ensured that the family-first approach to business was tightly interwoven into the fabric of the Melcom Group from day one. This is an important element to note, as it lends understanding as to the driving force behind the organisation; human connection and gratitude to Ghana for providing a beloved home. It also explains why the Melcom Group primarily focuses on operating within Ghana, as appose to stretching resources and attempting to take on international contracts as well. There are a smattering of international offices in place, but they provide administrative support for the business as a whole rather than acting as bases for extended trade.
An impressive heritage and deep-seated investment in the region give the Melcom Group a distinct advantage in terms of outperforming competitors, but this would only be so useful if the market was flaccid:
“We are currently operating in an economy that is growing, but at a slow pace. Melcom continues to look for opportunities while also investing in its core businesses. As a market leader with over 50% of the organised trade, Melcom sees everyone in its line of business as a competitor, so we are continuously striving to improve, as we do not take this threat lightly. However, Melcom, with its history of overcoming obstacles and barriers, is well positioned to compete.”
Aside from a rugged commercial hardiness that has steered Melcom through periods of economic turbulence, there is an extra pillar of strength running through the core of the organisation; an unflinching desire to serve the public and delight them with great value, quality products and reliability. In a bid to never disappoint, there is a contingent of incredibly hardworking staff that all take personal responsibility for their contribution to the wider success of the Group:
“The Melcom Group has over 2,800 employees and the numbers are still growing, with more stores to be added to our existing 38. Our approach to staff training is to focus on continuous improvement for the benefit of both the Group and the individuals. We offer a structured “benefits and rewards programme” too, which is intended to promote a culture of recognition for effort, innovation, expertise and excellence.”
Add to this an established supply chain that uses Ghanaian people and companies, and the integrated locality of the organisation is clear to see and easy to appreciate. It’s this internal approach that has helped to make the Melcom Group a beloved household name and a genuine success story.
Turning our attention to Bhagwan himself and his leadership style, it won’t come as a surprise that he maintains a level of awareness and cognisance that can only come from understanding a company from the ground up:
“Even though I have always held the position of Chairman of the Melcom Group, I must say, I feel as though I have held every position or role starting from the cleaning person through to salesman and accountant etc.” Perhaps this is why he has such a personable approach to leadership? “The key to effective leadership and inspiring success among staff is to ensure that a healthy competitive environment is always fostered. This, hopefully, guarantees that all persons are making a contribution to the growing businesses, and that personally, they are also realising their individual aspirations along the way.” As the Chairman of Melcom, I am also the number 1 servant. I take full responsibility when problems arise.
Of course, maintaining quality and consistency across such a wide-ranging portfolio of products and services, including clothing, groceries, hospitality and electronics, takes dedication and ambition, both of which are in plentiful supply within the Group. Always aiming high and diligently planning new strategies, Bhagwan has a poetically eloquent way of looking at future endeavours:
“With hard work and, hopefully, a bit of luck along the way, surely you will fly with the birds, if not touch the stars.” His philosophy has always been “Aim high. You will only hit what you aim.”
Having recently completed a number of impressive projects, including a world-class warehouse in the Tema Free Zone, Bhagwan’s attention is turning to the future and all of the exciting new developments that are on the horizon:
“We have bigger and better stores coming up at Bolga, Koforidua. La – Accra and Mankesim. A Century Industries revamp is also in the works, designed to increase capacity and introduce new product lines.”
He concluded, “At the Melcom Group, we aim to work with diverse people and groups to optimise capacity, grow the Ghanaian brand and culture and provide quality and excellent results in all touch points.”
Already a treasured household name and spectacular ambassador for Ghana, there can be no underestimating just how much more the Melcom Group can achieve. In fact, as Bhagwan himself alluded to, the sky is the only limit.