East India Company reminds us of the colonial British institution which, once set out to run business in India, ended up governing large parts the country. There was a time when the company was responsible for 50% of global trade. They raged wars, and employed a third of the British workforce. Following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Government of India Act 1858 transferred all powers from the East India Company to the British Crown. The company was eventually dissolved in 1874.
More than a century later, the business has been relaunched by a Mumbai-born entrepreneur, Sanjiv Mehta, who has turned the East India Company into a consumer brand focused on luxury food. He bought the company in 2005 from the “30 or 40” people who owned it, and is now selling rare teas, gourmet coffees, chocolates, jams, and other luxurious food gifts through his e-commerce website. When asked about his experience of buying the company which ruled India, he told the the SME times, “I had this huge feeling of redemption – this indescribable feeling of owning a company that once owned us.”
Sanjiv started the first East India Company store in London’s Mayfair neighborhood. He told the BBC that the project was not simply a commercial venture – there was an emotional connection too. “It is a dream come true to build a business like this and to acquire a brand like this to own the company. It’s a disproportionate joy.” He received thousands of e-mails from various Indians across India congratulating him. Today the company has stores across UK, Middle East, Europe, Asia and Oceania and is running the e-commerce website successfully.