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Rising along the Sun—Sohum Shoppe Ltd.


The Beginning…

It was the 10th of May in the year 2000 when Mr. Manohar Lal Jalan gifted the North East with the best concept the region could have imagined of. Of course, neither of us had then known that this concept would come along the long way down the road; breaking shackles which were always in the coming!

Mr. Jalan had this vision of bringing the best of retail to the region’s household- a revelation of a thought if we go back 15 years in time

But the journey hasn’t been a cake-walk. The winner of the Images Retail Award for the Most Admired Regional Independent Fashion Retailer 2009 (East Region) has had a tough time in realizing his dreams. He wasn’t the grandson of any founder to take over the throne to the successful empire, rather he was himself the founder…

A Recap of the Founding…

India’s first modern department store, Shopper’s Stop at Andheri happens to be the inspiration of the founder Mr. M. L. Jalan. It was in the year 1996 when he was visiting Mumbai that he came across the Shopper’s Stop outlet. He spent 5 hours in that store and the concept itself mesmerized him—so deep that in that short span of time he had decided to open one such shop in Guwahati, the place where he belonged! He didn’t buy anything, only thing he got from there was the idea, the Idea to revolutionize the shopping experience of the people of Guwahati and Assam in general.

Coming up with the setting up of such a Shop in Guwahati was another horrendous task as a lot of things were involved which caused constraint- the Location, the investment, & the insurgency issue.

The only high street in the city back then was Fancy Bazaar. A “shop” of 10,000 square feet was available for `3.00 crores. Jalan calculated that the interiors would cost him another `50.00 lakhs and he would have to stock at least `1.50 crores of merchandise.  So, the total investment required was a little over `5.00 crores. He figured that, with such a high investment, it would take 5-6 years to break even – so the business was not viable.  Instead, he bought a 12,000 square feet “shop” on the fourth floor of the building for just `72 lakhs, saving himself more than `2.20 crores.

But after countering with the original issue with his positive attitude and strong intellect, he didn’t had the faintest idea that moral support would be of so much importance as this was something everyone around him had vastly disappointed in. People were skeptic about the concept being introduced in Guwahati and didn’t back him well. He still got off with the initial hindrance and launched with the first such of many that came in the years ahead!

However with the absence of a strong Brand bouquet, the business kept bleeding for couple of years. Major players of the industry hadn’t come forward initially. The supply chain and logistics issue also concerned a few of them. But as it is said,” Variety is the spice of life”, things did come into terms and by the year 2004-05 the business had took off; the retail industry had seen a glimpse of the rising sun of the east…

When Mr. Jalan selected the site for his second store – today the flagship – he did not compromise on the location.  The 28,000 square foot store on G.S. Road opened in 2005. By then, his older son Sandeep (then 24) had joined the business. Sohum Shoppe had truly arrived. Mr. Jalan closes on the recap saying,”It is the strong will power, the dynamic think-tank of Sandeep(elder son), Siddharth(younger son), and Swastika(daughter); and the “Grace of the Almighty”, that Sohum Shoppe is what it is today. It’s the hard work and belief of the Employees; and the love of the Customers which has ultimately given us the success.”