Back in the early 1960s, Hakim Khan Abbasi opened up a general store in Karachi's Bahadurabad neighbourhood. He named the shop after his son, Imtiaz and always focused on establishing strong relationships with customers. Since that time, the neighbourhood store has been expanding into a retail chain that operates multiple outlets throughout the port city.
Imtiaz Abbasi, the son after whom the store has been named and who took the reins of the Company from his father after completing his higher education, met with BR Research. The following transcript is based on key takeaways from that exchange.
Given its persevering business success and rapid expansion, Imtiaz Super Stores have been the focus of many a case study by students of business administration. Successive reports on the Company have attempted to identify the unique selling proposition that has led to the success of this retail chain.
But, Imtiaz Abbasi, the owner of the Company, contends that the strategy is simple: "Since the first day that I started working with my father, we have always laid the most stress on inculcating and developing strong relationships with our customers. If you respect your patrons, consider their needs and priorities as sacrosanct and always persevere to surpass their expectations; your business will grow leaps and bounds," he explained.
Abbasi said that it is this consideration that led the neighbourhood store to introduce its first innovation back in 1971. At that time, the Imtiaz Store became the first retail outlet to process and package rice, wheat flour, pulses, spices and grains for its customers. "All others were selling straight out of gunny bags by the kilogram and customers had to take the products home and clean each of these themselves. So, we brought convenience to grocery shopping by cleaning the products for them and also by packaging them in manageable quantities.
A few years later, the store innovated...