Managing Director of Hi Line Cash and Carry, Sharmmi Jeganmogan, is the first non-white female member of Landmark Wholesale’s Board of Directors.
She grew her alcohol and soft drinks business five-fold from £4m to £20 million after taking over at MD in 2009. She reveals to Women in Wholesale her journey to the top.
Tell us a bit more about your business – how did it all start?
I come from Sri-Lanka, from a business-oriented family. I came to the UK to study at the University of Aberdeen but due to the Civil War my father’s business did not perform well and he could not afford to pay the high fees. So I learnt how to earn money from a young age.
I always wanted to work for myself. I started out buying failing retail shops, turning them around and selling them on for a profit. I wanted to move on to something bigger so in 2009 I bought my first wholesale operation – Hi Line.
It had one depot at the time in Deptford, London but I expanded the business into three UK sites, joined Landmark Wholesale, and increased turnover from four to twenty million in just eight years.
How did you end up on the Landmark Board – were you asked?
I put myself forward. I approached Martin Williams last year and told him I was interested in getting involved. He was really supportive and suggested that I come along to a few board meetings, so I did. When it came to election time, I put myself forward – and I was elected. I am the only ‘newbie’ business on the board.
What do you hope to bring to the table?
I am the second female and first first non-while female Board Member in Landmark’s 45-year history.
I want to make an impact – wholesale is loosing its individuality. I want to work with Landmark to look at better pricing structures for our independent retail customers, to help them to flourish. I also want to encourage more women to join the wholesale industry. Having a female presence at board level is a good start. I hope to be able to mentor more women in our industry to achieve as much as I have.
Any exciting plans for Hi Line 2018?
Yes, I’m always on the look out for new branches – I want to expand further across the UK and have another branch in mind for 2018.
Sharmmi’s Top Tip
In business, don’t wait to be asked – if you think you’d make a great manager or board member, believe in your value and put yourself forward.