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Journey to Wealth - Story 3

The Story Of Radhakishan Damani & DMART

Radhakishan Damani, also famous as the ‘retail king of India’ and ‘warren buffet of India’ is the man behind the phenomenal success story of DMART. An investor, entrepreneur, and India’s 7th richest man (with a market valuation of 14.3 Billion), he comes from a humble beginning and is one of the few self-made billionaires in the country. Born and brought up in Bikaner, Rajasthan, Mr. Radhakishan was born to an Indian Marwari family in 1965. His background naturally led him to have an inclination towards business in general. He dropped out of his Bcom from the ‘University of Mumbai’ midway to start his first business.

Investment Career and Early Life Even though Damani started his career as a business trader in ball bearings, financial problems after the untimely death of his father, led him to the door of the Indian Stock Market. He had to close his business and join his brother, who himself was into the stockbroking exchange. He started observing, speculating and trading under the able mentorship of Chandrakant Sampat, who himself was an accomplished investor. It was Sampat only who inspired Mr. Damani, into stepping inside the murky waters of the Indian Stock Exchange market. The 1980s and ’90s saw the rise of Damani as one of the leading stockbrokers of the Indian Stock Exchange. His investments in various stocks paid fruit, and soon he diversified into different other businesses. Today Damani not only owns a major stake in ‘Avenue Supermarts’ which is the parent company of DMART but also partly owns other ventures like the tobacco firm VST industries, the famous alcoholic beverage producer, United Breweries, and Blue Dart Logistics Services.  His portfolio also includes a 156 room Radisson property at Alibag, a popular beach-front weekend getaway near Mumbai. Radhakishan was famous for using the technique of short selling which was not such a common technique in that era. After the Harshad Mehta Scam, Damani was also accused by the stock exchange regulators for price hammering of the Indian stocks of various companies but was later given a clean chit by the committee. During this period, he was almost on the verge of bankruptcy. He then invested in long-term stocks, and some of his important investments paid off well in the long run. His most famous investments included ‘GE Capital Transportation Industries,’ ‘VST Industries,’ ‘Samtel Ltd,’ ‘Schlafhorst Eng (I),’ ‘Somany Ceramics,’ ‘Jay Shree Tea,’ ‘3M India,’ ‘Century Textile and Industries,’ ‘Trent,’ ‘VB Holdings,’ ‘TV Today Network,’ and ‘Jubilant FoodWorks Limited and so forth. Mr. Radhakishan likes to stay away from media and limelight and is also often called Mr. White due to his preferred dressing style of simple white trousers and a white shirt.

Association with DMART During the early 2000s, Mr. Radhakishan forayed into the retail business. His previous experience in the retail and consumer segment before this venture was solely limited to investing and trading. This was when he started his career as an entrepreneur in retail.  He purchased a franchisee of Apna Bazaar- a cooperative unit in Mumbai in partnership with Mr. Damodar Mall, who later became the CEO of reliance retail business. 2 years later, Damani opened DMART. DMART was the first retail venture of Mr. Damani, which he started after quitting the stock market business. It was started by the Damani family to address the growing needs of the modern Indian family. He started small when he opened a retail store near the Hiranandani Apartments, Powai, a famous suburb of Mumbai in 2002.  It has now grown to be the 3rd largest supermarket chain in India. He attributes the success of DMART to three main pillars of his company, which were its consumers, sellers, and employees. The IPO (Initial Public Offering) of DMART was announced in March 2017, in the name of its parent company, ‘Avenue Supermarts’. The opening of this public offering broke many records on the National Stock Exchange and directly shot Mr. Radhakishan Damani into the list of top 20 billionaires of India. The company’s shares were sold at Rs 299 per share at the IPO and surged as much as 106% after the listing at 604.4 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, making it not only the first retailer to list in a decade, but also perhaps the best IPO listing in the Indian corporate history at its time. After the stock closed on 22nd March 2017, the market capitalization value of DMART was estimated very close to ₹ 114,000 crores, which put it at the 65th Rank in the list of most valuable Indian firms. Currently, the firm stands at 33rd Rank amongst all the companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, i.e. the Sensex.

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