A Story of Humble Beginnings
Two brothers, Jhamatmal and Thakurdas Chanrai, set up a textile trading operation in Sindh, which was then a part of India.
The business flourishes and spreads to Karachi and Bombay, expanding to textiles and handicraft.
The decade saw the first steps towards expanding beyond India with the opening of a shop in Malta, providing a stepping-stone to Gibraltar, Canary Islands in Spain and Morocco in North Africa.
This marked the start of 20 years of rapid growth, with particular focus on trading in smaller cities and towns like Ceuta and Tangier.
Spreading Our Wings
Africa became the next continent for us to get a foothold. During this time, we established our operations in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria.
Rapid expansion of the business saw us venturing further, and we established a presence in South America with operations in Argentina, followed by Brazil and Chile.
The next generation of Chanrais rose to take over the mantle of leadership as Jhamatmal and Thakurdas passed the baton to their sons. This new generation, as enterprising as their fathers, set up their base in Bombay, India.
The new generation of Chanrais expanded their reach to Yokohama and Kobe, Japan. They then took over a silk business in Singapore and followed up by starting operations in Saigon, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Canton.
A branch was established in Madras and here, the Chanrai family pioneered the export of the famous "Madras checkered" handkerchief to West Africa, where the product became hugely popular.
India was partitioned and the Chanrai family shifted from Pakistan to Bombay, India, their new home.
As with many things in life, the family business arrived at a crossroads. The Chanrai family decided on an amicable separation, with Kewalram Ghanshamdas Chanrai and his sons going on to form the Kewalram Chanrai Group.
Charting Our Success
Thakurdas Chanrai's grandson, Kewalram, consolidated the existing businesses in India, Africa and the Far East under the Kewalram Chanrai Group.
The Group diversified into department stores.
The Kewalram Chanrai Group celebrated 100 years in business.
The Group founded Afprint, an integrated textile plant in Nigeria. Two decades later, the Group ventured into extension farming and set up Afcott, a company to grow and gin cotton. Afprint was subsequently listed on the Lagos Stock Exchange.
PT Kewalram Indonesia set up a spinning and embroidery manufacturing plant in Bandung, West Java.
The Group acquired Kewalram Oils, Malaysia, for palm residue recycling.
Kewalram Philippines was established to manufacture synthetic blended yarns for weaving and knitting.
Olam was established in Nigeria to set up a non-oil export operation. It started by exporting raw cashew nuts and then expanded into cotton, cocoa and shea nuts.
The Group diversified into commercial property developments in Singapore, Malaysia and USA.
Building Professional Management
In the early 1990's, we adopted a new business model, moving from a family-owned and family-managed enterprise to a family-owned but professionally managed one.
Redington commenced operations in India distributing IT products.
Olam moved its headquarters from London to Singapore. Today, Olam is a leading agri-business operating across the value chain in 70 countries, supplying 47 different agri-products to customers across the globe.
Springfield Agro was set up in Nigeria to provide total farm solutions to the agricultural sector, distributing seeds, agrochemicals, fertilisers, tractors and farm implements. Today, its business extends across Africa.
Olam International was listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange. The company has won numerous awards.
Our Group decided to expand the operations to other parts of Africa and consolidated the businesses under the umbrella of Afri Ventures.
Redington India was listed on the Indian Stock Exchange. Today, Redington India is a leader in key markets, providing supply chain solutions for information technology products and consumer and lifestyle products. The company has won numerous awards.
EcoOils (erstwhile Kewalram Oils) established a second plant in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.
The Kewalram Chanrai Group celebrated 150 years in business.
Afri Ventures entered into a joint venture with Far East Mercantile Group in October 2012.
The Kewalram Chanrai Group is the inaugural winner of the The EY-Barclays Family Business Award of Excellence 2013.
EcoOils inaugurated a new waste recycling plant in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia.
The Kewalram Chanrai Group acquires Easyaccess Financial Services Limited, an Indian Non-Bank Finance Corporation, whose business activities include providing event-driven short and medium term financial solutions to corporates and small and medium enterprises.
Afri Venture consolidated its business activities under five verticals in key markets in Africa.
PT Kewalram acquired a second production plant in close proximity of its main factory. The new facility specialised in production of cotton and cotton blended yarn catering to denims and high end apparels.
Afri Ventures set up a joint venture with CFAO in April 2016 to distribute the Mitsubishi range of vehicles in Nigeria.