Finally Co-optex pulls down its landmark showroom for Chennai Metro

Amid the din of traffic and Metro Rail work on Anna Salai on Wednesday, motorists and pedestrians were witness to the demolition of a landmark structure.

The 95-year-old building owned by the Tamil Nadu Handloom Weavers’ Co-operative Society (Co-optex), adjacent to Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan, was pulled down to make way for a new showroom. Bought by the Co-operative Society in 1962, the 5,780 sq. ft. structure housed three tenants (commercial entities) apart from a Co-optex showroom.

Over the past 35 years, however, the building has been mired in litigation as two of the tenants refused to move out and pave the way for renovation of the Co-optex showroom. The third tenant had vacated the premises in the 70s. After several rounds of negotiations, about three years ago, one of the two tenants agreed to move out even as the last occupant stood his ground. He paid a paltry sum of Rs. 150 as monthly rent though the Society had to pay property tax that was several times higher.

A few days ago, the last tenant agreed to move out following which the Society decided to demolish the structure.

In order to survive in a market dominated by private players, Co-optex has been reinventing itself over the years. “Customers will walk into our showrooms only if we have a good ambience, large varieties of products for different segments at affordable prices and pleasant sales staff, among other things,” said U. Sagayam, Co-optex special officer and managing director.

The Society is also looking to replenish its coffers. “Our first aim was to bring down the accumulated losses of Rs. 12 crore incurred since 2000. Having achieved it, we are now pushing our sales revenue to Rs. 400 crore against the Rs. 244 crore achieved last year,” Mr. Sagayam said.

The Anna Salai property is the latest to undergo Co-optex’s makeover. “It is a huge property measuring 44×130 ft. and runs along Ritchie Street. It will cost about Rs. 2.85 crore to build ground plus two floors. We will finalise the design in the coming weeks,” said a Co-optex official.

However, the Society’s plans to build a mega mall at its headquarters in the Thillaiyadi Valliammai complex in Egmore are stuck due to delays in attaining coastal regulatory zone clearance from the ministry of environment and forests.