Leav­ing be­hind a legacy

The late Datuk Jethanand Utu­mal Vali­ram is re­mem­bered for his en­tre­pre­neur­ial zeal and hu­mil­ity.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - People - By BERVIN CHEONG star2@thes­tar.com.my

ON July 18, the chair­man of Malaysian lux­ury re­tailer Vali­ram breathed his last breath. Datuk Jethanand Utu­mal Vali­ram died in New York City, sur­rounded by loved ones. He was 78 years old.

Jethanand’s legacy how­ever, will for­ever be re­mem­bered. Not only was the man the fam­ily pa­tri­arch, he re­mained in­volved in the Vali­ram busi­ness as chair­man and ad­vi­sor till the very end.

His el­dest son, Vali­ram ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Sha­ran said in a press state­ment: “He lived a glo­ri­ous life and went with much dig­nity. He is a leg­end and his life was a grand


The Vali­ram group started out in the tex­tile trade be­fore mov­ing into yarn man­u­fac­tur­ing, plus fab­ric and gar­ment re-ex­port. Un­der Jethanand, it moved into life­style re­tail, open­ing the world’s first tex­tile bou­tique at an air­port.

This ven­ture won the con­fi­dence of global brands that led to the group open­ing sev­eral new con­ces­sions at Kuala Lumpur In­ter­na­tional Air­port, be­fore ex­pand­ing into travel and down­town re­tail.

Jethanand is re­mem­bered by his peers in the in­dus­try as a for­mi­da­ble busi­ness­man. He is re­spected for hav­ing the fore­sight to steer the Vali­ram en­ter­prise through an evo­lu­tion.

“Malaysia lost a re­tail visionary with the pass­ing of Datuk Jethanand,” noted se­nior gen­eral man­ager of com­mer­cial ser­vices for Malaysia Air­ports Hold­ings Ber­had, Mo­ham­mad Na­zli Ab­dul Aziz. “He was a man of pas­sion and vi­sion and he had a pro­found in­flu­ence on the re­tail busi­ness com­mu­nity, in par­tic­u­lar the travel re­tail in­dus­try. He will leave a last­ing legacy to the in­dus­try and will be ter­ri­bly missed.” Jethanand was also in­stru­men­tal in pro­vid­ing over­all strate­gic coun­sel to his sons – Vali­ram ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors Sha­ran, Ashvin and Mukesh, all of whom have helped grow the busi­ness across nine coun­tries.

Ac­cord­ing to the Malaysia Re­tail Chain As­so­ci­a­tion’s pres­i­dent, Datuk Garry Chua, Jethanand was a man of “vi­sion, hu­mil­ity and com­pas­sion”. He said that he knew Jethanand through his son, Sha­ran.

Oth­ers have sim­i­larly ex­pe­ri­enced Jethanand’s legacy in the next-gen­er­a­tion Vali­rams. The gen­eral man­ager of Bell & Ross for Asia, Tong Chee Wei, pointed out that the fam­ily’s busi­ness will be well taken care off.

“I re­gret not hav­ing met Datuk Jethanand per­son­ally. My ac­quain­tance is with his sons. And through my ac­quain­tance with his sons, I know the legacy he has left be­hind will be in good hands,” said Tong.

“I be­lieve he was a great fa­ther fig­ure and a leader by ex­am­ple to the chil­dren whom I got to know quite well through the course of work,” stated CEO of Pavil­ion Kuala Lumpur Datuk Joyce Yap, who has met Jethanand on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.

“The chil­dren cer­tainly have a lot of re­spect for their fa­ther and they put fam­ily first de­spite their busy sched­ules. I know they spend a lot of time to­gether as a fam­ily, which is very im­por­tant in life,” she added.

In his per­sonal life, Jethanand de­voted his time to phil­an­thropic ini­tia­tives close to his heart. Among them in­cluded char­i­ta­ble works and do­na­tions to or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Lak­shmi Narayan Tem­ple, Lions Club and the Ro­tary Club.

He had also served on the man­age­ment com­mit­tees of the Kuala Lumpur and Se­lan­gor In­dian Cham­ber of Com­merce and held the vice-pres­i­dent role at the Sindhi As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia.

Jethanand’s me­mo­rial ser­vice was held at the Xiao En me­mo­rial cen­tre in KL last Sun­day. It was well at­tended by in­di­vid­u­als from the cor­po­rate, bank­ing, fash­ion and life­style sec­tors.

He is sur­vived by his wife, Datin Champa Kir­palani; sons, Sha­ran, Ashvin and Mukesh; daugh­ters-in-law, Lav­ina, Mon­ica and Roshan; and grand­chil­dren, Neerav, Divesh, Harein, Jiya and Aarav.

— Vali­ram

Jethanand played an in­stru­men­tal role in the Vali­ram Group’s suc­cess.

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