Friday, February 13, 2009: 10:52:06 AM

Retail Biz Personality of the fortnight

Steps to success

Surinder Makhija, Director, Maharaja Shoes

‘Maharaja Shoes’ has created a niche for itself in the retail sector and emerged as one of the leading footwear companies. The man responsible for its success is Surinder Makhija, its Director.
The initial days
Mr Makhija had a great passion for footwear and forayed into this business in 1973. After having graduated in Bachelor of Arts from Bhagat Singh College, Delhi University, he chose to step into this business. Since he had no experience in retailing, he had to face a lot of hardships. His brother Ravi Makhija and his father helped him in his venture.
Mr Makhija commenced his entrepreneurial journey with a meagre amount. One of his friends familiarised him with contact details of footwear manufacturers and distributors. He then purchased shoes from these distributors, rented a shop in Delhi and started Maharaja Shoes.
Early career
During the initial phase, there was not much competition in the footwear segment. Thus, Mr Makhija comfortably continued retailing his brand of footwear. There was a good demand for his products and his customer base started increasing. This earned Maharaja the much-needed goodwill in the market and healthy profits. Quality footwear at reasonable prices made Maharaja Shoes successful and popular.
Overcoming challenges
As the business prospered, Mr Makhija felt a strong need to expand and diversify his reach. He set up a second store of Maharaja Shoes in Noida in 1989. In 2008, the company came up with a third outlet at Greater Noida. During the early days, he had difficulties procuring products from manufacturers since nobody wanted to entertain a newcomer. Hence he had to depend on wholesalers and distributors. But after learning the tricks of the trade and adopting different business strategies, he was able to identify the gaps in his business. Today, Maharaja Shoes manufactures its own footwear range. The company works in collaboration with a few manufacturers for whom it buys leather, suggests designs, modifies, provides specifications and fabricates footwear, which is then retailed through its various outlets.  
Honesty is best policy
One of the reasons why Maharaja Shoes gained popularity was the quality of its products. Mr Makhija feels, “One should be honest with his customers. It is this ideology that has helped my company reach newer heights.” Maharaja Shoes offers the best quality products to its clients, be it embroidered sandals, formal shoes, kidswear or sports shoes. The brand procures its products from artisans based in Delhi, Agra, Kanpur and Mumbai. He says, “I ensure that the final samples in the manufacturing unit are thoroughly checked before they are transferred to the retail outlets.”
He feels that striking a bond with the clients is the most important strategy of a business. Mr Makhija says, “I love interacting with my clients. Hence I personally visit my retail outlets, supervise the operational activities, manage my team and employees as well as give them the necessary guidance which would help them work more efficiently and diligently in this business.”
Looking ahead
When asked about his future plans, Mr Makhija quips, “I am happy with my retail business and don’t intend to foray into any other business immediately. We have built up a huge client base while maintaining long-standing professional relationships with many of our distributors and wholesalers. We are waiting for this period of economic downturn to come to an end so that we can look for a better scope of expansion.”
In his leisure time, Mr Makhija loves to read.   

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