It took two months for Pooja Jain to clear her schedule for this interview. But she wasn’t always this busy, insists the 37-year-old executive director of the Luxor Group, one of India’s largest stationery companies. “Had you met me three months ago, I could have spent hours with you,” she says. But in March 2014, her father Davinder Kumar Jain—the founder and chairman of the Luxor Group—succumbed to a cardiac arrest. He was 71. Now, though her mother Usha is the chairperson of the group, Pooja holds the reins of the family-run company. “Other family members (she has two sisters and a brother) are not trained in the business. I am running things on their behalf. Before this tragedy, I was in charge only of the writing instruments venture, but now I look after everything,” she says.
The story of Luxor began in 1963 when her father started the company with five employees and an initial investment of Rs 5,000. Today, the Luxor Group—it celebrates 50 years of operations this year—has over Rs 500 crore in revenues. Of this, almost 80 percent comes from the writing instruments business which started it all; in the last five years, this business has grown at a CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 17.65 percent year-on-year. It has four brands: Luxor, Pilot, Parker and Waterman. Under the homegrown Luxor brand, the firm manufactures fountain and ball pens, markers, highlighters, gel-pens, notepads and other writing accessories. It also has a licence agreement with Pilot of Japan and Newell Rubbermaid of the US, which owns the Parker and Waterman brands.
Pooja also oversees Luxor’s nascent foray into the real estate and hospitality arena as well as its plans for diversification into the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) space. She spent the better half of the past few months abroad assuring international business partners that the company is in safe hands. It’s not just outsiders that Pooja has to convince. She is bent on proving to herself, her family and her employees that she can lead the company her father built.
Pooja’s father was the heart and soul of Luxor. His demise has left some very big shoes to fill.
“He [DK Jain] lost his father last year at the age of 91, so his untimely death came as a shock to us,” says Raji Iyer, who started out as a secretary with the company about 35 years ago, and is now president of Luxor International, the export arm of the writing instruments business. According to Iyer, DK Jain was humble, polite and patient, and always cared about the personal well-being and growth of his employees. “He inculcated Japanese work culture in the company; he didn’t believe in hierarchies and encouraged participatory management,” says Iyer. “He only looked at the balance sheet and took the larger decisions.”
In contrast, Pooja likes to micromanage and is demanding of her employees. She is known to work almost 24 hours a day, even on Sundays, but she doesn’t like the word workaholic. “I enjoy what I do, so it doesn’t seem like work,” she says. Her colleagues say they can expect calls from her at any time of the day or night, even on weekends. An employee says it’s not unusual for Pooja to call them at 1 am to talk about the business or brainstorm for new ideas.
It’s almost as if she’s in a hurry to prove that she is a worthy successor. In this, she has an uphill task. The popular feeling in Luxor is that her father was a true entrepreneur, whereas Pooja has only inherited the business. It is perhaps this that drives the executive director to leave her mark on Luxor. She intends to achieve that by increasing the company revenue from Rs 520 crore to Rs 2,000 crore in three years. This ambitious goal is limited to Luxor’s writing instruments business, and does not include the Jain family’s investments in real estate and hospitality.
While Pooja is enthusiastic about the FMCG space, it is still unclear whether her views on real estate and hotels match her father’s. Under Jain, the Luxor Group partnered in the development of two commercial properties with Delhi-based real estate developer, Uppal Group. A 100-acre township has been planned in Gurgaon with India’s leading developer DLF. In all of its real estate projects, the family owns the land which it develops in partnership with a developer. Pooja declined to talk about the land the family owns, shrugging it off as a “family matter”, and it’s not clear whether Luxor will continue to foster more real estate partnerships. Hospitality will also not be its core business, though Luxor owns a 50 percent stake in the South Delhi hotel, The Qutab. “The decision to remain in it or not will be taken in two years by the family,” she says.
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(This story appears in the 05 September, 2014 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)
Hello ma'm - you are inspirational. You are my idol. I heard a lot about your prestigious organization. Hats off!on Mar 16, 2016
Read the article , Luxor group and Pooja with ambitious future plan , I should say the bravery has no boundry since you have calculated your dream ,which i read, I say you will achieve near the double turn over as in your calculated time.on Oct 7, 2014
My Advise to Pooja Jain is you are dealing with change. Being the daughter of the founder and now being the Head of the Organisation are two different things. In other words the boat is rocking (slightly). I am sure you are talented like your father. But Change is critical and when there is transition of leadership employees tend to compare. This is quite normal. I'm not sure of your financials but seems Luxor is stable. Best not to squeeze the employees with a 400% growth. Introduce innovation and creative management styles in the 24 months ahead and then re-look at your revenue objectives. Best of Luck - NILANon Sep 10, 2014
"Speed and ambition" is what explains this article. 520Cr to 2000Cr is a huge leap in 3 years. I really have no idea how to satisfy me with this loafting target ambition but i wish good luck to pooja ma'am. Her sincere and easy going nature vanishes the haziness.on Sep 2, 2014