Sunday, August 29, 2010

What happen to East India Company?

Do you know what happen to East India Company? East India company is English chartered company formed for trade with East and Southeast Asia and India, incorporated in 1600. It began as a monopolistic trading body, establishing early trading stations at Surat, Madras (now Chennai), Bombay (Mumbai), and Calcutta (Kolkata). An Indian entrepreneur is relaunching the East India Company with the opening of a store in London, after buying the remnants of the British trading giant that once ruled much of the subcontinent.

Photo by AFP: Mehta showing one of his product.

This former global trading power was acquired in 2005 by Indian businessman Sanjiv Mehta, who has transformed it into a consumer brand focused on luxury foodstuffs; tea and coffee.

"I was born and grew up in Bombay (Mumbai), so for me to acquire a company which once owned us is a tremendous joy," Mehta told AFP, as workmen put the finishing touches to the shop in London's upmarket Mayfair district.

But the entrepreneur, who moved to Britain around 20 years ago, insists he is not driven by a desire for vengeance, he says his plan is based on carefully thought-out commercial considerations. In reawakening the slumbering giant, Mehta has bought into a 400 year old brand already known to millions of people around the world. At its peak, the company employed a third of the British workforce and was responsible for 50 percent of global trade.

"It's impossible to build a luxury brand like this," the 49-year-old said.

"You can spend billions of dollars and not reach where the East India Company is already starting from."

Although his ambitions are much more modest, he hopes the EIC will once again spread its tentacles across the globe. The company is already in talks about taking the brand to Japan and the Middle East. Mehta also expects the EIC to make a return to India at some point to tap the market for luxury goods in one of the world's fastest expanding economies.

"The East India Company is a name which every Indian knows," he said.

The Mayfair store, which measures around 2,200 square feet (200 square metres), is designed to remind customers of the East India Company's heritage. The EIC's coat of arms hangs on a wall, and ancient Indian coins are scattered across one of the sales counters. Metal tea trays are decorated with patterns of criss-crossing straight lines, representing the EIC's trade routes across the globe. It is stocked with 350 high-end products, developed by the company and using ingredients sourced from across the world. They include more than 100 varieties of tea, in a specially designed "tea bank", many varieties of mustard and biscuits, and decorated gift boxes of chocolates. Mehta hopes the business will be in profit by 2012, and predicts it could be worth 100 million pounds in the next four to five years.

Source: AFP.

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