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Friday, July 23, 2010


Name one company from the Valley you might know of. Better, name the largest. And that’s why the name of Khyber Group – the largest business group in Kashmir – came as a wonderfully pleasant surprise. Haroon Reshi writes...

Umar Tramboo – the name was as new to us as was his group’s, Khyber, which runs Khyber Kareem Silk (P) Ltd. and Khyber Industries Pvt. Ltd. Compared to all companies in the valley – domestic, multinationals – Khyber is now the most diversified, spread out industrialised group of the Valley, operating quite dexterously in seven diversified sectors, including agro, cement, healthcare and textiles etc. Although Umar Tramboo inherited a family business, he’s definitive that he didn’t earn it on a platter. For one, Umar had to be extremely well educated to be even allowed back – he earned his Bachelor’s of Commerce through the prestigious Bond University, Australia with a double major in ‘management’ and ‘family business and entrepreneurship’. He further on completed his MBA from the same university.

The group’s story begins in 1955 with the establishment of its first roller flour mill and oil extraction unit in the valley. The flour mill was initially established in Sopore under the name of United Oil & Flour Mills. On the way, the group’s name changed to Khyber (“We named it after the Khyber Pass, a mountain pass that links Pakistan and Afghanistan,” says Umar), and today, growing beyond past years, the group’s fame comes not only from flour (it has a most modern flour mill in Srinagar) but also milk processing (a tech-heavy plant at Pulwama) and cement (with another post-modern fully computerised plant in the valley), which is the structural strength of the group. Umar accepts, “Yes, our cement business has been in operation for more than 23 years now, producing high quality clinker and cement at our plant situated at Khonmoh, Srinagar. Our plant was the first cement manufacturing plant in the valley. We started with 100 tonnes per day. Today we produce more than 1,000 tonnes per day.”

Khyber’s biggest opposition in this business did not come from an external competitor, but came from within the state itself. “People in the valley had a notion that [quality] cement can only be manufactured outside the state. To break into the mind of the people over here was the toughest thing,” says Umar. With a Rs.59 crore group turnover, Khyber is the largest private sector cement manufacturer in J&K and has more than 50% of market share, competing tooth and nail in J&K with the likes of Ambuja Cement, JK Cement, Shree Cement, Kamdhenu Cement, ACC etc (“Health competition gives us the strength to grow,” says Umar).

Most importantly, the group has been intuitive enough to start the first cardiac centre in the Valley which is a great social support for providing contemporary health facilities to the state’s citizens. Bringing his youthful zest into the group’s operations, Umar is also betting on a 100 room 5-star hotel at Gulmarg, a bio-culture business, essential oil extraction and LPG blending-cum-bottling.

Umar seems quite definite when he tells us, “My vision is to reach more than Rs.100 crores in turnover very soon.” For a man who believes that militancy cannot hamper growth and that “your destination is the key to entrepreneurship,” Umar presents the new face of J&K. A state where entrepreneurship could once never bloom, now sees groups like Khyber presenting hope and the wonderful promise of dignified employment and existence to thousands of the Valley’s youth. If not for capitalism’s sake, at least for the sake of development, Godspeed to Khyber.

Haroon Reshi

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2010.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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