Alfamart Founder and His Career Story

When you hear the word Alfamart, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? As one of the most well-known minimarkets in Indonesia, it seems that almost everyone has shopped at Alfamart. This is because Alfamart stores themselves have spread throughout Indonesia. In fact, the Alfamart and Alfamidi store chains are now almost in all corners of the city and also the district that sub-district.

The number of shops spread across Indonesia, if you look at it as of 2020, there are already more than 17,000 locations. These minimarkets do not only exist in cities, but have started to enter villages. So, almost all Indonesian people have shopped at the minimarket.

Alfamart’s success has led its founder, Djoko Susanto, to become one of the 100 richest people in Indonesia. Of course, it would be very interesting if we discussed the success story of the founder of this Alfamart.

Get to know Djoko Susanto and his Secrets of Success

Djoko Susanto is a businessman who comes from Chinese descent. He is the son of a family of 10 siblings. Djoko Susanto’s first name is Kwok Kwie Fo. In the past, his parents were traders and the owner of a kiosk, although not a relatively large one. The kiosk owned by Djoko Susanto’s parents was named Toko Sumber Bahagia, which was located at Pasar Arjuna, Jakarta. At that time, Djoko began to be involved in the shop owned by his parents since he was little and then at the age of 17, Djoko started doing business.

At that time, Djoko dropped out of school and decided to look after his parents’ shop. Like most people of Chinese descent, he is also very active in trading.

This trait has until now been instilled in Djoko Susanto. He is not even ashamed even though he is not a graduate of any well-known university or college. Djoko Susanto only finished first grade in elementary school because he decided to help his parents look after the shop.

Unexpectedly, the grocery store owned by his parents was developed by Djoko Susanto and eventually grew well and developed into several branches. Even the grocery store owned by his parents had hundreds of branch locations spread across traditional markets.

Here, Djoko always tries to be innovative and keeps looking for various opportunities and gaps that are different from competitors. However, destiny said otherwise, the shop business that had been developed to the maximum experienced a disaster at the Arjuna Market. In 1976, a fire incident destroyed his stall in the Arjuna market area. So that 80 to 90 percent of his capital just disappeared.

The fire accident certainly left quite deep sadness, tears, and also upset. He really felt down because the capital that he had collected and fought for was also burned and ran out. But, life must go on. Djoko Susanto did not want to be too long in his grief.

The fire incident was indeed the worst experience, but also a whip to raise spirits. Djoko also began to try to recover from his sadness by rebuilding his trading business.

It didn’t take long for Djoko to get up and reach the same level as before the fire. After his trading business returned to its initial condition, he began to look at other trading services or selling cigarettes.

According to Djoko, at that time cigarettes were one of the items that always sold well and were in great demand. In addition, cigarettes are also a product that is very fast moving in the market and very easy to sell.

That is one of the keys to Djoko Susanto’s success in trading, namely by selling products that are in demand by consumers and have strong appeal. Consumers really need these products, so even with minimal promotion consumers will still look for these products. So, as business actors, we only have to do various kinds of side innovations so that our merchandise can be chosen by consumers.

Then, his cigarette business was developed again by opening a new network. Djoko Susanto made a change so that it could be accepted by retail partners. The approach system that he applies to retailers as well as business partners has succeeded in making the cigarettes he sells selling well.

Even Djoko is called one of the new stars in the cigarette industry. It is not surprising then that Putera Sampoerna, the owner of HM Sampoerna Group cigarettes, was interested in making Djoko one of the distribution partners. After going through various trials by opening 15 outlets in Jakarta, Putera Sampoerna is increasingly convinced that Djoko is indeed very promising.

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It was from there that the two of them began to form a joint venture company in the distribution sector, named PT Panamas, in 1985. Putera Sampoerna, who at that time was already a conglomerate and owned 70 percent of the shares, while Djoko was not yet a big businessman, was given a 30 percent stake.

At the same time, since 1989, because he trusted Djoko too much, Putera Sampoerna asked Djoko to take a director position at Putera’s tobacco company, PT HM Sampoerna.

The collaboration between Djoko and Putera Sampoerna finally went smoothly. So the two of them then agreed to develop a minimarket retail business network which would later become the forerunner of Alfamart. In the business joint venture, Djoko is still one of the minority shareholders, because 70 percent of the shares are still owned by Putera, who is currently the main investor.

Alfamart’s Secret of Success

The collaboration carried out by Putera and Djoko has inspired the two of them to open the Alfa Toko Gudang Rabat minimarket. That is what later became one of the forerunners of the Alfamart retail network.

Because, in order to reach more middle and lower class people who are looking for the cheapest prices and convenience, in 1994 the two of them decided to open an Alfa minimart which was later changed to Alfamart. Previously, Djoko gave the minimarket the name Sampoerna Mart, but later he chose Alfa because it was easier to remember and recognize.

One of the keys to the success of Alfamart, built by Djoko, is the concept of the store. Where he dared to make different concepts and innovate. Especially at this time there are still very few modern shops that have a comfortable atmosphere for shopping. Especially for a relatively small shop class. It’s usually managed in a chaotic, typical grocery store model.

In contrast to the retail store concept built by Djoko, where he made the store more attractive and neat. Because of that he can be successful and grow rapidly. The store concept is modern but still close to the community and sells convenience. Therefore, the concept that he uses is called a convenient store. The store is comfortable, clean, uses air conditioning, sells products and goods in neat packaging, and also has friendly service.

In addition, the Alfamart store also has a large and adequate parking area. So that people who usually shop at traditional stalls feel leveled up, there is an element of prestige attached to this retail shop. The available goods and products are arranged very neatly, grouped into several categories, so that it is easier for consumers to find and choose the product they want to buy.

After that, this retail shop business also provides an opportunity for the public to be able to buy and own a similar store with a franchise system. That’s what makes Alfamart grow faster. What’s more, it has been assisted by Putera Sampoerna.

Become the Controller By Purchasing Additional Shares

In 2005, Putera Sampoerna decided to sell his tobacco company to Philip Morris. In this case, Putera also sold his tobacco company and its subsidiaries, including its 70 percent stake in Alfamart, to Philip Morris for US$5 billion.

At that time, Djoko did not have the funds to buy 70 percent of the shares owned by Putera, because the funds Djoko had were not sufficient and were still very limited. However, Djoko has another way, namely by collaborating with strong investors who can manage investment money.

Coincidentally, Djoko has acquaintances and links with an investment company, namely Northstar Group, where his business usually invests in other parties. Northstar is a private equity company founded by Patrick Walujo, son-in-law of former Astra Group President T Rachmat, who is in charge of managing global funds for Indonesian investment.

Then Northstar bought Alfamart shares previously owned by Putera Sampoerna. However, these private equity investors always invest in short-term or temporary patterns. Usually after 5 to 7 years, he will sell his shares. Sure enough, several years later, Alfamart’s shares managed by Northstar were sold through going public (IPO) on the stock exchange and some of the shares were purchased by Djoko.

Djoko Susanto has also been able to buy the additional shares after so many years. Because, he has been saving and looking for other sources of income. Certainly, by inviting Northstar to buy Alfamart shares, the shares will not fall into the hands of a party he cannot control. This strategy is also one of the keys to Djoko’s success, which until now remains the owner or controller of Alfamart, a franchise company he founded.

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Up to this point, there is one lesson we can take. If you want to be successful in business, then never hesitate to invite and learn from strong players. Just like what Djoko did, he dared to partner with Putera Sampoerna and Northstar Group. However, you still have to be able to control the direction of the business. Don’t just go with it, so you won’t be harmed. It is also important to find partners who can understand each other, are not greedy and have the same chemistry.

Alfamart Growing Rapidly

Of course, since Djoko has fully controlled Alfamart, he has continued to develop and innovate in this retail network. Every year, he opens hundreds of new outlets and adds hundreds of product owner partners as well as partners who become franchise investors. Djoko also continues to develop the Alfamart brand so that it is increasingly recognized by the market. No wonder now that there are more than 17,000 Alfamart outlets. Therefore, Djoko Susanto has now become one of the richest people in Indonesia with trillions in assets.

Full Profile of Djoko Susanto Founder of Alfamart

The following are some of Djoko Susanto’s profiles and life journey to become one of the richest people in Indonesia.

Djoko Susanto’s childhood

In the Djoko Susanto family, they applied character values ​​when he was still young. When Djoko Susanto started his formal education, he only reached the first grade of elementary school. Because, at that time the Indonesian government did not give permission to students with Chinese names to attend formal school in Indonesia. Even so, Djoko remained enthusiastic about developing his skills and abilities even though he did not have formal education. Then he decided to change his name to an Indonesian name.

Business Career Journey

When Djoko was 17 years old, he started to manage 560 street food stalls owned by his parents which were located in one of the traditional markets in Jakarta. Djoko himself had the character of a hard worker which led him to further expand his business by selling cigarettes as well.

Then, the success obtained by Djoko attracted the attention of Putera Sampoerna, who is the owner of a cigarette factory in Indonesia. As explained above, the two of them decided to work together to make 15 kiosks in several locations in Jakarta. Then on August 27, 1989, they founded Alfa Toko Gudang Rambat.

Then in 1994, the name Alfa Toko Gudang Rambat was changed to the name Alfa Minimart. But in 2005, the cooperation between Djoko and Putera Sampoerna stopped. This is because Putera Sampoerna sold all of its companies and subsidiaries.

Then the retail business is under the auspices of PT. Sumber Alfaria Trijaya Tbk. Where the business is progressing quite rapidly. Until 2007, Djoko Susanto set up an Alfamidi shop under the auspices of PT. Main Midimart.

At that time, Djoko had to give up Alfamart to move to Carrefour and in the end he focused on Alfamidi. However, he later managed to achieve success, where he was able to work with Lawson, a convenience store franchise from Japan. Until now, there are around 5,500 retail stores under the auspices of PT. Sumber Alfaria Trijaya Tbk. Where in it there are various kinds of retail stores such as Alfamart, Alfamidi, Lawson, and also Alfa Express.

Earning Awards

In 2012, Alfamart received the Top Brand title which was held by the Frontier Consulting Group Research Institute. In addition, Alfamart was also the winner in the best minimarket category at the Indonesia Best Brand Award.

Then in 2014, Djoko Susanto was ranked the 27th richest person in Indonesia by Forbes Magazine. Furthermore, in 2015, Djoko Susanto again won the position as the 18th richest person in Indonesia according to Forbes Magazine with a fortune of 1.22 billion US Dollars or equivalent to Rp. 15.86 trillion.

This is an explanation of the history and career story of the founder of Alfamart, who has now become one of the richest people in Indonesia. We can learn from Djoko Susanto that even though he did not run a formal school until he attended college, even only up to first grade, Djoko Susanto has been successful in building his business because of his perseverance and hard work. Nothing is impossible in this world if we want to try and never give up.