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Aug 25, 2008

About Coimbatore Palamudirniliyam

Palamudirniliyam is neatly stacked fruit and vegetables shelves. But retail operations form only a small part of the Rs 80-crore brand. Nearly 40% of Pazhamudir Nilayam’s annual turnover comes from the wholesale business and retail sales contribute to the rest. Apart from catering to the needs of a majority of educational institutions in the city, the chain also supplies vegetables and fruit on a daily basis to industries in Tirupur and hotels in Chennai.
Leading hotels like Le Royal Meridian and GRT in Chennai, Alankar in Coimbatore and the Velan Group of Hotels at Tirupur are its customers. Likewise, it caters to nearly 75% of educational institutions in and around Coimbatore, including PSG group, Bannari Amman, Karunya, Avinashilingam and Dr NGP Arts and Science College.
It has 70 vehicles, right from autos and light motor vehicles to heavy vehicles to transport the fruits and vegetables. Apart from procuring vegetables and fruits from local market and from farmers in Ooty, Mettupalayam, Ottanchathiram, Shimla and Delhi, it also imports apples. In addition to an international standard cold storage sprawling over 5,000 sq ft in Neelambur, where seasonal fruits and vegetables are stored, each outlet of Pazhamudir Nilayam has an attached godown.
Starting their career as fruit vendors, the four Nanjappa Gounder brothers opened this organised retail shop, the first in south India, at Peelamedu, Coimbatore, 44 years ago. Ten years later, they ventured into the wholesale business. Today, there are 11 shops at prime locations in Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode and Karur, apart from the 14 franchisees in Chennai, Pondicherry, Bangalore and Hyderabad. “While shoes are arranged in glass shelves in shoe shops, fruits and vegetables are sold on pavements near ditches.
We wanted to change that practice and thus started Pazhamudir Nilayams,” said Mr N Rathinam, youngest among the Nanjappa Gounder brothers, the other three being N Chinnasamy, N Natarajan and N Kandasamy. Induction of the next generation (the Nanjappa Gounder brothers have one son each) into the business led to diversification. “There are two textile mills, three speciality restaurants, two departmental stores and one software company, apart from the Pazhamudir Nilayams,” said Mr Rathinam’s son R Vijay. Vijay and his three cousins visit the early morning market religiously to learn the trade from their fathers.
“Though we are professionally qualified, we all want to continue our family business and thus start our daily education from the market,” Vijay said. The chain’s speciality is to provide fresh and quality fruit and vegetables and the owners don’t believe in bargaining. “We don’t bargain when we buy from farmers and likewise, we don’t encourage our customers to bargain,” Mr Rathinam said. “We pay farmers the price they quote because we know how difficult life is for them. They reciprocate by giving us the best quality,” Mr Rathinam said. Moreover, leftover or second quality fruit and vegetables are not sold, but sent to their farms.
They are used as feed for cows, whose milk is used for preparing milk shakes at their juice shops. The second generation has further developed the wholesale business by starting an overseas contract. “We now export fruits and vegetables to Maldives and Sri Lanka on a regular basis,” said Mr Natarajan’s son N Senthil. They also exports to Singapore whenever there’s an order. “We have plans to expand operations to Dubai and are in search of good buyers,” he said. The export turnover per year is pegged at Rs 3 crore.

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