- Behman Pestonjee speaks about the entrepreneurial attitude in business
Abans Group is a Sri Lankan conglomerate, founded by a female entrepreneur, my mother Aban Pestonjee, over 50 years ago. She was a home maker and a mother of three when she started the
|Behman Pestonjee (Tito)
The business commenced in the late ’60s, during the time Sri Lanka had a closed economy. Therefore, the Sri Lankan market had limited access to international electronics and home appliances. Pestonjee, with the understanding that home appliances help to make a home maker’s life far better, saw the opportunity to purchase used appliances from embassy auctions, service them, and re-sell those appliances to the Sri Lankan market.
Furthermore, she understood the importance of trust and guarantee in the market, and opened Abans’ first aftersales service centre as well. Her unique empathy for people saw her striving to find solutions for the daily stresses they face in life. That was the fundamental for our family business – understanding the customer’s difficulties and empowering them to a better way to life.
Post my return from studying overseas, the opportunity to expand the business through catering to more customers across geographies and income levels was clear. The single store in Bambalapitiya grew to include over 400 stores island-wide. The business still possesses a very strong retail backing and Abans has become a strong brand due to the strength we possess in the electronic and home appliance retail market. We are fortunate to have grown to include a plethora of over 40 leading international brands – LG, Philips, Apple, Elba, to name a few. Through the brands, we cater to the evolving customer needs and are a step ahead in terms of innovation.
We serve all customer segments across the country, from basic appliances to the latest cutting-edge technology. Due to the trust we have earned in the market, when it comes to the latest in innovation, people still make Abans their first choice. Keeping a close eye on the markets across the world, we have ensured we have a pulse on the emerging trends. When the local market is still preparing for the new products, we are already there with the latest, and that has enabled us to be a step ahead.
The business diversification from retail occurred to cater to the evolving market needs that in turn were converted to business opportunities. Diversification and expansions have been a big part of the Group’s journey that has brought about resilience and growth. When entering new markets, there is a fair amount of risk that we manage by the selection of the right partners, strong investors and recruiting of industry experts to our team. While the management team provides the guidance, the responsibility of the new venture is competently undertaken by the industry experts.
Abans Environmental Ltd. was founded in 1985, when others were yet to see a business opportunity. Through this company, the Group is able to provide many unique services for the people. Facility management, pest control and cleaning services are a few of the many unique services the business pioneered in offering the Sri Lankan market. Cleantech Ltd. was established in 2002 to facilitate logistics for municipal councils. Since inception, the company has expanded to include solid waste management, e-waste resource recovery and city beautification. The much-commended Colombo city beautification falls under the purview of this able team.
Lifestyles are becoming more complex and family time that once was taken for granted has become a valued treasure that many have very little of. The Colombo City Centre project came to be with the objective of offering the convenience of a mixed development to the people of Colombo. Colombo City Centre is the premier mixed development project to be completed in Sri Lanka. The project commenced in 2015 with the partnership between Abans Group of Companies and the Singaporean-based NEXT Story Group.
The joint venture brought in one of the largest foreign direct investments to Sri Lanka during the recent past. With all the benefits of an international standard shopping mall, the NEXT business hotel project offers unique solutions that guarantee the pleasures of city living without the drawbacks.
With the automobile market booming and many striving to own a vehicle, or are aspiring to upgrade or get a second vehicle for their home, the market opportunity was promising. Abans Group was privileged to secure the authorised dealership for Hyundai and Hero in Sri Lanka. Many industry experts joined the team to ensure Abans’ ability to offer a complete solution to customers, from sales to aftersales to spare parts.
The current COVID-19 pandemic impacting the entire world, saw many markets and businesses struggling. The new normal – while putting stress on some businesses due to the change in lifestyle – will also open many new business opportunities. The e-commerce boom, the focus on last mile delivery, digital media growth, e-learning, virtual meetings, the high awareness of germ protection, the need for better time management are just a few of the new trends emerging.
Furthermore, the escalating environmental issues need corporates to rise to the challenge and provide sustainable solutions. Abans Group will be forging collaborations across the Group and with external partners to keep seeking solutions. The Abans-LG partnership, together with the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) and Department of Wildlife Conservation, that gave rise to the long-term Attidiya wetland conservation project, exemplifies our commitment to the cause.
Seizing the opportunity is all about being on the pulse, listening to and observing changes, and being able to act fast. Having an adept and solid team working with Abans Group has always been a key enabler for us to capitalise on opportunities and to work on a sustainable business model. Abans Group’s business approach of identifying potential market opportunities, ensuring the core values are kept and the unwavering focus of guaranteeing customer expectations are surpassed, has enabled us to successfully seize many opportunities. We continue to look forward to more exciting times ahead!