Metro Brands: From Shoe Store Salesman to making a popular brand – The Tejani Legacy

The Story of Metro Brands Limited

The story of Metro Brands Limited is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and adaptation in the face of challenges. It began with Malik Tejani who was a humble shoe salesman working in Colaba (a shoe store) in  Mumbai, during the pre-independence era. In 1947, when India gained independence and the store owner had to leave due to the Partition crisis, Malik saw an opportunity. Despite the risks, he took a loan, bought the store and opened his first store in 1955. He named it Metro Shoes. He decided on the name of the iconic Metro Cinema in Mumbai. The Metro Brands journey started from a single shoe store and created a history of being a popular brand.

Malik was a completely social person; he could greet people approximately in 40 different languages. He was the best salesman according to Farah (his granddaughter). His style of selling was the main pillar of his business. Farah says he worked in the shop till the last day of his life. He always preferred not working in an office setup.

Malik's dedication to his craft and his innate ability to connect with customers laid the foundation for Metro's success. He ran the business with emotion, turning selling shoes into an art form. Customers from all over the country recognized him, drawn by his charisma and genuine passion for footwear.

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Second Generation Rafique Malik

Upon his passing, his son Rafique Malik took the reins at the young age of 16, now he is 73. He envisioned the transformation of the store into a multi-chain format and he did. Under the leadership of Rafique, Metro Shoes began to professionalise, he hired managers to ensure the success of sales. Rafique's determination to modernise and expand Metro Shoes never wavered.

He has left an indelible mark on the organisation through unwavering commitment and visionary leadership. He completed his education at Harvard University. His influence in the retail industry spans over five decades, establishing him as a stalwart in footwear retail.

Under his guidance, the Company has become a formidable house of brands with 800 stores located across India. The diverse and robust portfolio of brands under the Metro Brands’ umbrella reflects his foresight and strategic acumen, encompassing iconic Indian names like Metro Shoes, and Mochi and international sensations such as Foot Locker, Crocs, FitFlop, and Fila.

Throughout his journey, Mr Malik's pillar of support has been his life partner, Mrs Aziza Malik. According to Forbes, he is on the 89th position on the list of India's Richest.

Metro Brands Store

Third Generation Farah Malik, the granddaughter of Malik Tejani

Then came Farah Malik Bhanji, Malik Tejani's granddaughter. Currently, she is running the Company as the Managing Director of Metro Brands. Initially, she was hesitant to join the family business, but Farah's six-month trial period proved to be life-changing. She recognized herself within the Company, and she embraced her role and drove digital transformation. She joined the Company in the 2000s.

She has graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, and she also participated in the Owner/President Program at Harvard Graduate School of Business.

Farah's introduction of technology and data management revolutionised Metro's operations. From introducing barcoding to launching an online portal, she propelled Metro Shoes into the digital age. Despite the changes, the family's passion for footwear remained ingrained in the Company's DNA.

Since its inception in 1955, Metro Brands Limited has weathered numerous challenges and transformations. From the scarcity of goods in the early days to the liberalisation of India's economy in 1991, Metro Shoes has adapted to thrive in a competitive market.

Today, Metro Brands Limited stands as one of India's most prominent footwear brands, boasting a turnover of Rs 1,411 Crore annually and a network across 128 cities. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic posing unprecedented challenges, Farah and her team remained resilient, embracing digitalisation and cost optimization to navigate through tough times. With Farah's determination and vision, Metro Brands Limited aims to cement its position as one of the top three footwear brands in India, continuing the legacy of passion and excellence established by Malik Tejani decades ago.

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Challenges and Farah’s view

She says that she faced the challenge of gaining respect as a woman in a male-dominated industry, but she found solace in her father's unwavering support. Despite the generation gap, her family and elders stood as pillars of strength, allowing her the freedom to learn from her mistakes. She believes that life throws curveballs, but it's one's attitude and reaction that truly matter. For Farah, 10% is what happens to you, while 90% is how you react to it – Her father's philosophy that guides her through challenges.

Farah says the Company is a family member to us, discussions about the Company were a constant presence from breakfast to dinner and have shaped Farah's understanding of its ethos and values since childhood.


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