Home Celebrities Chandarana Foodplus : How Shanital Mulji’s Grocery Store Became Trendsetting Retail Giant

Chandarana Foodplus : How Shanital Mulji’s Grocery Store Became Trendsetting Retail Giant

Chandarana Foodplus supermarket Photo: The Standard

When the late Shantilal Mulji Thakkar opened up a little grocery store at the Highridge Shopping Center in Parklands in 1959, it seemed like a far-fetched dream that it would grow to become a respected retail outlet.

Shantilal was the typical Indian businessman, and his store embodied the stereotypical dukawallah style, where he attended to his customers from across the counter, catching up with them as he handed over brown paper packets of produce and spices.

Little is known about his background, but he was an astute businessman, working seven days a week in his white shirt and with a cigarette on the side of his mouth as described by Parklands residents he interacted with.

He passed on in March 2000, leaving the store to his three sons, Anil, Sanjay and Dipan who have propelled the business to become one of the most profitable retail chains in Kenya.

Shantilal mentored his sons into the business quite early, raising them in the store where they were tasked with duties such as restocking shelves, receiving goods and packing.

The boys took lessons from their father including personalized customer service, respecting suppliers and making timely payments.

He began Chandarana as a niche store to cater to the Asian community and 65 years later, it continues to be synonymous with Indian foods and spices, setting it apart from other retailers in the market.

Seeing that it is a family business, Dipan and his brothers are hands-on in the administration of the chain or supermarkets and are tasked with product listing and analysis, finance marketing, purchasing and maintenance.

Under the leadership of Anil, Sanjay and Dipan, Chandarana now has 27 stores located in convenient neighbourhood locations in Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru, Naivasha, Nanyuki, Nyali, Changamwe and Diani.

Over the years, Chandarana Foodplus has grown to be a retail king, standing strong through decades of economic fluctuations that have sunk other retail enterprises.

The brothers have overseen a Kshs 10 million rebrand, moving from Chandarana Supermarkets to Chandarana Foodplus, dropping the traditional blue and white logo to green and white to embody the ‘Foodplus’ aspect.

This rebranding strategy was aimed at replacing in-house capacity to offer fresh goods by partnering with external suppliers to offer a bakery, a deli and fresh produce within its stores.

Through this Chandarana has become a trendsetter, with retailers emulating this move by opting for diversification of products as a modern way of meeting social and commercial needs.


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