I purchased a jewellery for gift sometime during 2010 from this family owned jewellery store and was very impressed by the service. Revisited this sometime in 2018. It was appalling experience. I eventually wrote a letter addressed to the owner, telling my experience and providing feedback which was constructive criticism. I received a call from an elderly gentleman who wanted to meet me and told me that he would send his car and I obliged. I met the owner and an elderly Bengali gentleman in those red coloured old mansions of North Calcutta that tells the glory days of city architecture of Calcutta. It was a forty year old business, tracing back to a much older business as its parent and the owner received the business as an inheritance and developed it some thousand times. He was a widower, two daughters, both married happily, the business was a proprietary business in structure, three stores in the city and more than a million dollar business. His problem was a combination of – his age, no clear succession of business, time warped and lazy and aram se staff. It was a pro bono work for me – the owner gets an un-biased opinion and I get an insight into business and human nature. This way, I fulfill one of the commands of one of my Masters, Socrates – “the greatest study is the Study of Man.”
First Investigative Measures
- Checked with the daughters and their husbands, all well-off professional and were not interested in the business. Lack of interest was to the extent that if the business is sold off tomorrow, they would not lift a finger. Conclusion : the owner never involved them in the business or they did not have the temperament to be involved. Son-in-laws were all established professionals and were not interested.
- The business was operationally run by two old time managers, 50+ and they both worked in the firm for around 20 years. They were more like a family than staff.
- The business was not able to catapult itself into 21st century using the reputation and cash reserve as a spring board and was whining that new challengers were adopting new measures, for example, online marketing and they found this utterly incompatible with their nature of business – the gold business. They did not move with time and thus were denying the pressure of time.
Over a nice Bengali lunch in the North Calcutta mansion, attended by the owner, 2 managers, his daughters and son-in-laws and two professionals taken by me – a lawyer and a chartered accountant. I had asked the owner to come clear – Either / Or . Does he want to see his business / brand continue under a structure built by him OR sell it lock, stock and barrel and be off with it. He told that his heart’s wish is to continue this even after him – a business for which he and his devoted wife, now departed, worked so hard. I had told all of them, endorsed by the professionals :
- Change the structure of the company from proprietary to a private limited with owners having share and two managers elevated to shareholders.
- The company would provide the owner a fixed allowance per month as Founder Royalty over and above his shareholding. This must be iron-clad even under bankruptcy consideration. These professionals – of law and finance would help them, if they wish.
- Since his daughters and their families are not interested to manage, a clear line will be drawn – Management and Owners. A professional CEO be brought with freedom to lead the company. The Founder holds no executive position. He should retire, rest and relax and only provide his advice, if consulted.
I did not keep in touch later. However, I came to know that the owner was too weak to oversee daily operation. The stores were there and sometime in early this year, I was passing through Calcutta 700 009 on my way to 91/A Baithkhana Road and I saw that the sign board is new and there is a smaller type PVT. LTD written below the name of the brand.