Many may be surprised to discover that our journey in Ghana actually began in 1929, when Ghana was known as the Gold Coast. My late father, Mr. Ramchand Khubchandani, immediately fell in love with the country and its people upon his arrival and decided to settle here. After working tirelessly for seventeen years as a shop manager, he had saved enough to start his own business and made the decision to do so with his younger brother.
In 1946 they ventured into a retail partnership, establishing the first GLAMOUR store in the heart of what was then Accra’s modestly-size CBD. Hard work and perseverance allowed them to open three more branches in quick succession. After approximately two years of successful retail trading, their hard work was wiped out in an instant. The Christiansborg Crossroads Shooting of 1948 that ushered in Ghana’s quest for independence resulted in the loss of law and order. Widespread looting caused them to lose everything and they became penniless overnight. Their business was not insured and their never-give-in attitude coupled with their reputation of being astute and honest businessman was all they had.
Knocking on every door possible, they finally struck luck with one of their English suppliers who agreed to ship them goods without payment, trusting that they would honour their commitment. Sure enough, they did not disappoint; they came back stronger than before and continued to grow from strength to strength. In 1955 the brothers diversified into manufacturing, opening Ghana’s first garment factory. Success in that venture prompted them to backward integrate into producing textiles, which, at its pinnacle, employed over 1,200 Ghanaians. Having developed an appetite for total business, the brothers decided to diversify even further, this time into hospitality, in the form of Ghana’s first Indian restaurant, Maharaja. Under the military regime of Colonel I. K. Acheampong, “Operation Feed Yourself” was launched in 1979.
This was a self-reliance programme initiated to restrict imports and boost local production of raw materials required by industries. The directive stated that all factories were to set up local agricultural operations to produce the raw materials that their factories required. Failure to do so would result in the revoking of import license for major inputs. The textiles and garments business relied on polyester, which required no agricultural activity.
However, the regime still insisted that they establish agricultural operations and thus GLAMOUR poultry farms, which still exist today, came into being. I enjoyed the privilege of owning 50% of the GLAMOUR group. My passion for retail is well known and eventually decided to part ways with my partners in order to focus my effort.
In 1989 I established Melcom with my sons-in-law, Mahesh Melwani and Ramesh Sadhwani and together we have built Ghana’s largest chain of retail stores. It is hard to believe just how fast time has gone by since our humble beginning, it has been a long road with its fair share of ups and downs, cheers and tears. Like my father, I have adopted Ghana as my home. I am eternally grateful to the people of Ghana who have, for all the years, extended their unconditional love and hospitality. Our future success depends on our loyal customers and we sincerely hope that they will continue to patronize us.
God bless Ghana.
Mr. Bhagwan Khubchandani
Founder of Melcom Group of Companies