Electro Mart, a seller of low-cost imported television in the 1990s, has gone from strength to strength and is now manufacturing various electronic products of global brands that include Konka and Gree – all with the "Made in Bangladesh" label.
The company, established by its Chairman Mohammed Nurun Newaz Selim in 1980, is also producing TV, fridge and other electronic products under its own brand Haiko with foreign technology.
The electronic products-maker set up a plant named Trade International Industries Ltd in Sonargaon in 2018 with an investment of Tk1,000 crore to manufacture products of these Chinese brands in Bangladesh.
Company insiders say they are now working towards employing at least 30,000 people with an additional investment of Tk5,000 crore by 2030.
Nurul Afsar, deputy managing director of Electro Mart, tells The Business Standard that Gree accounts for 60% of air conditioners sold in Bangladesh, while Konka has around 25-30% stake in sales TVs and fridges.
All these products are manufactured in the factories of Electro Mart labelled as Made in Bangladesh. "Besides, our own brand built with Chinese technology has already occupied 5-6% of local electronics market share," says Nurul Afsar.
"We started joint production first with Konka and then with Gree in our Sonargaon factory. We have invested over Tk1,000 crore in this factory. More than 2,000 people are working directly here," he says.
Electro Mart has its own research and development, which leads with new types of products line-up to suit the weather and needs of the people of Bangladesh.
"We develop products in Bangladesh in collaboration with global brands. We also maintain global standards in terms of quality," says Afsar.
Currently, Electro Mart has more than 50 outlets in the country. There are about 100 exclusive plazas jointly funded by the company and some private ownerships. Besides, the company has more than 2,000 dealers across the country.
Nurul Afsar says they have plans to export all kinds of home appliances, including TV, fridges, AC, microwave ovens, cookers, washing machines, fans etc.
"We are planning to double the production capacity of the factory by 2030. Before that, we will enter the export market by 2025," he adds.
How it all began
Mohammed Nurun Newaz Selim started importing televisions and selling them in the local market in 1980 after getting acquainted with a Hong Kong-based businessman via one of his friends.
He used to deliver goods that came from Hong Kong to the shops from his office in Chattogram. His initial investment was only a few lakhs of taka but now his company is worth more than Tk2,000 crore.
Nurun Newaz Selim says, "After independence, very few people in the country had TVs and refrigerators. In the 1980s, the market of electronic products expanded in the country through contacts with traders from Hong Kong, China, Japan and Singapore."
In 1980, Nurun Newaz started wholesale trading of imported electronics goods on a limited scale. His business began to expand when his younger brother Nurul Afsar joined him after having completed his bachelor degree in 1997.
Nurul Afsar says the price of colour TVs in the market in 1998 was Tk30,000-Tk35,000. At that time, they started selling Konka TV for Tk12,000.
"We started marketing with a five-year warranty. But many people said colour would be distorted or it would cause problems to the eyes. But in reality, it did not happen. Four years later, the 2002 FIFA World Cup brought us great opportunities. That year people lined up to buy Konka TV. Later, other brands were also forced to reduce the prices," says Nurul Afsar.
"After the success of TV sales, we started bringing in other products, including Konka fridges, microwave ovens," he says, adding, "In 2004, we started assembling products on a small scale. Since then we have started importing and selling Gree, Daikin, Toshiba HVAC products besides Konka."
In the beginning, they had a wholesale business of imported products from Japan, Korea and China.
"We used to bring electronics products from Hong Kong and supply them to the retailers in the country. At that time, import was easy from Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. China and Korea were not so accessible as they are now," Afsar says.
"At one time, we also opened our own showrooms. Later, we started assemblage of products and have now gone into manufacturing," Nurul Afsar adds.
Target to gain global foothold by 2025
Afsar says, "The purchasing power of our consumers are growing. With the spread of information technology, people now want a touch of modernity in their lives. Our goal now is to start exporting electronics goods by 2025."
The deputy managing director says Electro Mart has plans to invest more in its state-of-the-art factory on 50 acres of land in Sonargaon, Narayanganj. "Besides, we are producing all kinds of products under our own brand Haiko. All the dealers of Konka and Gree are selling Haiko products too."
Nurul Afsar says, "Konka has access to the markets of about 140 countries. It is very popular in our country as well. On the other hand, Gree air conditioners are exported to more than 150 countries around the world."