Most of us have visited DMart – but do you know the Dmart owner? Do you know his unbelievable success story, his current net worth and his education qualification?
Did you know he was a college dropout who went on to become a billionaire?
This article is about a legendary stock market investor who founded India’s most profitable retail supermarket chain called ‘Dmart’.
His name is Radhakishan Damani, also known as RK Damani or ‘RD’ on Dalal Street.
Let’s discuss Damani’s net worth first, before we know his journey from a small lower middle-class family to one of the richest in India.
Damani is the promoter and major shareholder in ‘Avenue Supermarts’ – a company he founded in 2002, which runs all the Dmart stores across the country.
He and his family hold 75% stake in Avenue Supermarts. The current market value of the entire company is ₹ 1,46,000 crore. Out of this, the value of Damani’s stake is ₹ 1,10,000 crore.
He also has investments in India Cements, VST Industries, Mangalam Organics, Spencer’s Retail, Astra Microwave Products – just to name a few.
The total net worth of Damani including all his assets and investments is said to be $ 18 billion (₹ 1,31,000 crore).
That’s 13,10,00,00,00,000 rupees!
How did he get here? Read his story..
Radhakishan Damani Story
Born in a lower middle class Marwari family, Damani grew up in a small one-bedroom apartment in Mumbai.
He did not complete his graduation, as he dropped out of college a year into his commerce degree. In other words, the second richest man in the country after Mukesh Ambani has only studied till 10+2 and is a college dropout.
RK Damani’s father Shivkishan-ji Damani worked in the stock market back in the 1960s. After the untimely death of his father, young Radhakishan left his ball-bearing business and joined his brother Gopikishan who was already in the stock broking business.
Like most others who are new to the stock market, Damani started with a trading mindset. He made his first big profit by ‘short selling’ stocks that were quoting unrealistically high prices just before the Harsha Mehta scam in the 90s.
Later, he became a value investor. There are reports that he was holding a significant stake in HDFC Bank during its initial years in business. He is said to have picked up HDFC Bank at a price of ₹ 40 per share and Nestle India at ₹ 300.
Damani’s other investments were VST Industries, Somany Ceramics, 3M India, Trent, Jay Shree Tea, Jubilant Foodworks and various others.
Damani was always interested in the consumer retail business. But his focus was on starting small, keeping the business profitable and working on consistent growth.
He started Dmart with just one store in suburban Mumbai back in 2002.
Unlike Kishore Biyani of Pantaloons and Big Bazaar fame, Damani focused on keeping costs low. One way he did this was to buy real estate properties on which Dmart stores were constructed.
This saved him rental expense and the value of Dmart properties also increased exponentially.
Currently, Dmart has 214 stores, out of which 38 were added in 2019 – 20. The company continues to add more stores every year, with its focus fixed on making them profitable, efficient and customer friendly.
As you can see from the image above, the growth has been slow, but has picked pace in the last few years.
In the annual report, the company says “DMart took eight years to start its first ten stores. This wasn’t because of dearth of investment opportunities, but more because of his (Damani’s) belief in the importance of validating the business model from a perspective of both profitability and scalability”
Trader and Investor
Damani has a unique skill, he identifies himself as both a trader and investor.
RK Damani’s friend and Chairman of Dmart – Ramesh Damani – says he is blessed with exceptional qualities.
“He will smell a bear and bull market and tell you within a day, not even a month” says Ramesh Damani.
While some are born with a long-term mindset, others are born with the ability to speculate. RK Damani can do both – and very successfully.
“It is like writing with both the hands. He has done it. His brain is wired to do both and not mix things. It is difficult but he can. He will do according to the rules of the game. He will not tolerate a losing position in a speculative market. He will be very patient in an investment. These are two extraordinary skill sets combined in one person, but that is a gift of god.” Ramesh Damani says.
Other Lesser Known Facts about Dmart Owner
Here are some lesser known facts about Dmart owner Radhakishan Damani:
- He leads a very simple life and remains far away from the public eye. He is reclusive by nature.
- He is a college drop out.
- Damani started getting serious about investing at the age of 38.
- He founded Dmart at the age of 48.
- It is said that his approach to investing changed after he met Chandrakant Sampat.
- Rakesh Jhunjhunwala considers RK Damani as his mentor / guru, someone who helped him immensely in his initial years of investing.
- In the early 90s when Damani was flipping through the pages of Forbes magazine, he found the billionaires list to be dominated by retailers. It is at this time that Damani made up his mind to enter the retail business – which was still in its infancy in India.
- It is said, when Damani was in his late 20s, he would keenly watch Manu Manek (also known as ‘the cobra’) who would go short on stocks and make a lot of money. It is this that helped Damani first make money and also make a name for himself by ‘short selling’ prior to the Harshad Mehta scam.
- At the peak of the bull market in early 90s, before the Mehta scam was unearthed, Damani and his group were short on stocks. Later, a few years after the shorters won the battle, Damani is said to have told his friend “Agar Harshad (Mehta) saat din aur apni position hold kar leta, toh mujhe kathora leke road par utarna padta.” (If Harshad had held his position for 7 more days, I would’ve had to beg on the streets).
- Till 1992, Damani was a punter like others of those times… He cleaned up after the Mehta scam. He turned a long-term investor after 1992.
- His close friends are Ramesh Damani, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Nemish Shah and Vallabh Bhansali.
- The Dmart owner is not much of a reader; he does stock research by himself – mostly by talking to a lot of people.
- “Market kya lag raha hai?” is the first question he’d ask anyone who participates in the market – whether the person was big or small, did not matter.
- A broker said “He gets the market-top right most of time… He may just be one or two days late or early in judging market-tops. He got the dotcom bust-up of 2000 and 2008 market crash quite right… but he failed to see the market recovery of 2009. He had expected the downfall to last a lot longer then”