Unforgotten Brands – Viveks


From being a single store, Viveks has grown into a retail powerhouse that is known for its creative ideas and trustworthy brand.

Hailing from a traditional Vysya family of rice merchants in Kolar Gold Fields, Karnataka, BA Lakshminarayana Setty wasn’t destined for the traditional route. After graduating with an electronics degree, he ventured to Chennai (then Madras) to carve his path. He began his career in the bustling city, working for firms dealing in electrical accessories and fan distribution, before the entrepreneurial spark ignited, leading him to strike out on his own.

Vivek’s story began on May 3, 1965, in a modest 450-square-foot shop near Sanskrit College, Mylapore. BA Lakshmi Narayana Setty gave the store its name, Viveks and Co. (the precursor to today’s Viveks), out of a passion for Swami Vivekananda’s teachings.

Setty had a dual vision for the company, one that included providing customers with high-quality products while also giving those in need of employment opportunities.

Following BA Lakshmi Narayana Setty’s passing in 1968, the mantle of leadership fell upon his brother, BA Kodandarama Setty. In a testament to the family legacy, his three younger brothers and their father joined forces, transforming the business into a partnership firm. This unified approach fueled their expansion. Their second location opened in Purasaiwalkam in 1969, and a third one in the busy T Nagar neighbourhood followed in 1980.

Viveks’ journey commenced modestly, offering bicycles, folding furniture, and small appliances like radios. This focus resonated with customers, and within the first year, the business surpassed a turnover of ₹1 lakh (100,000 rupees). As a result of this initial success, Viveks expanded its product line to include more in-demand appliances like radios, mixers, irons, fans, and heaters.

Best-in-Class Retail Concepts 

Kodandarama Setty and his brothers weren’t content with just success. They embarked on a global quest, travelling the world to observe and learn from leading retailers. These insights were then incorporated into their showrooms, making the T. Nagar location one of the trendiest of its time. 

Unique Initiatives

  • Investing in the Community

 The Viveks family established the Viveks Foundation as their social service arm. This initiative aims to empower underprivileged youth through education and healthcare programmes. Additionally, they focus on women’s social upliftment, reflecting the family’s commitment to a broader social impact.

  • New Year Super Sale: A Pioneering Tradition

Viveks has a long history of retail innovation. In 1977, they launched the now-iconic New Year Super Sale, offering customers deep discounts across their entire inventory. This practice, a first in the Indian market, proved highly successful. Bulk purchases secured significant discounts from brands, ensuring profitability despite the attractive pricing. The sale’s popularity was legendary, with customers camping outside the store on New Year’s Eve to be the first in line for the bargains. Though widely adopted today, the Viveks New Year Sale remains a cherished tradition.

  • Rush Hour Sale: Further Innovation

Viveks continued their innovative streak in 2014, introducing the “Viveks-Rush Hour Sale” during their Super Sale event. This unique concept offered a one-hour window where specific product categories went on sale at incredibly discounted prices, often below cost.  This further cemented Viveks’ reputation as a leader in creating exciting and customer-centric shopping experiences

  • Hire Purchase: A Trailblazer in Retail

Viveks’ commitment to innovation extends beyond product selection. In 1965, they introduced a revolutionary concept: the Hire Purchase Scheme. This programme allowed underprivileged customers to purchase essential appliances, like electrical items, for as little as Rs. 1 with a structured installment plan, initially daily and later monthly. This was a game-changer in a market where full upfront payment and long wait times were the norm. Viveks transformed installment buying from an embarrassing experience to a convenient and dignified option, earning them lasting customer respect and loyalty.

Building upon this success, Viveks established Vivek Hire Purchase and Leasing Company Limited (VHPL) in 1991, marking the first time a retailer launched a Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC) in India. This pioneering spirit continued with over 1200 Safe Deposit Lockers offered in 1993 and the Vivek Institute of Retail Management (VIKAS) established in 1996. VIKAS remains a leading training centre for retail professionals. These “firsts” solidify Viveks’ position as a true retail innovator.

  • Beyond Retail: Building Trust and Convenience

Viveks’ focus wasn’t solely on selling products. They revolutionised customer service with the Vivek Service Centre (now known as Home Serve), the nation’s largest at the time, boasting over 200 technicians. This centre offered comprehensive product repair, with additional services like electrical, plumbing, and carpentry, providing a one-stop shop for home maintenance needs.

In 1993, Viveks addressed another customer concern by launching “Viveks Safe Deposit Lockers Ltd.,” offering secure storage solutions.

  • Extended Warranties

Viveks’ commitment extended beyond product selection and service. They established a reputation for exceptional customer care by offering “extended warranties” that surpassed manufacturer guarantees, fostering trust and loyalty.

Viveks – The Unlimited Shop: A Retail Powerhouse

By 1995, their diverse product range, exemplary service, and loyal customer base fueled Viveks’ expansion.  The “Viveks – The Unlimited Shop” concept aimed to be a one-stop shop for all consumer needs, offering a wider selection of brands and exceptional service under one roof. To achieve this, they embarked on a strategic growth plan, acquiring established retailers like Jainsons (14 stores), Spencer Super Store, and Premier Electronics. Today, with numerous showrooms across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Pondicherry, Viveks has become a regional retail leader.


Viveks’ dedication to customer satisfaction wasn’t lost on industry experts. A CII-sponsored study of the Indian retail industry awarded them the prestigious title of “More trusted than the brands it sells” by McKinsey – a remarkable achievement for a retailer. They had transformed from a single store to a trusted brand and a retail powerhouse

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