E-commerce venture Alesha Mart Managing Director Monzul Alam Sikdar claimed the company has been subsidised by its profiting sister concerns to build brand image and grasp more market share.
"Alesha Mart's operations are completely different from its competitors," Monzul Alam told a press conference at a Dhaka hotel Sunday.
The e-commerce platform started its journey in January this year and its turnover in six months reached Tk1,100 crore. The managing director said the sister concerns of Alesha Mart subsidised Tk350 crore against the turnover.
Of its 32,000 products, Alesha Mart said it only offered high discounts in motorcycle sales that met up with losses in the end. But sales of other items registered Tk140 crore profit.
The Bangladesh Bank recently sought bank statements from several e-commerce companies as some private banks suspended their payments gateways with the e-commerce ventures. Later, the commerce ministry issued the e-commerce guideline.
At the press conference, Monzul Alam said the authorities have been generalising Alesha Mart with its market rivals. "The banks also put the customers in trouble by suspending the payment gateways arbitrarily, and damaged our image. They could have taken such measures after thoroughly looking into the matter," he added.
"Alesha Mart does not depend solely on customer payment as we pay the vendors first. Besides, we do not have too many complaints about product delivery and refunds. With 3 lakh deliveries in six months, only ten complaints have been filed against us," said the company managing director.
Monzul Alam said Alesha Holdings is the umbrella organisation that currently has 11 concerns in operations. Of them, four companies – Alesha Developments, Alesha Agro, Alesha Solutions and Alesha Engineering and Service Ltd – are in profit.
Alesha Agro has been in the market since 2015, while the remaining companies are new.
Contacted, the Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (Rehab) said Alesha Developments is not their member.
Mohammad Shaidullah, president of the Bangladesh Steel Mill Owners Association, said they do not have any member called Alesha Steels Ltd. Concerned sector people also said they do not know about Alesha Engineering and Service Ltd.
At the press conference, Monzul Alam said his strategy was to subsidise Alesha Mart to brand his other companies.
"If I had to brand the companies separately, it would cost me a lot. There are too many examples of establishing a brand with subsidy."
"We had been manufacturing steel sheets, but could not sell those. Now we are selling the steels. Previously, some people would not give land to our real estate company as it was a new venture, but give the plots to us now," he claimed.
"Without discounts and subsidies, we could not have access. However, we now go for a cent percent cash-on delivery system," he said in reply to a question.
Monzul Alam said the subsidies did not come from bank loans, which rather had been invested elsewhere in business. He also claimed the national revenue board has the details of his businesses.
The managing director said his e-commerce platform does not owe the vendors even a single penny now as he bought all the items in cash.