They may be named Pennywise but they are not pound foolish.
While many companies have been buckling under the pressure of challenging economic conditions, Pennywise Cosmetics Ltd has not only been surviving, they have been thriving.
Pennywise’s chief executive officer Dalvi Paladee said the company had recorded its best results this year when compared to the past five years.
“We are very strong, we are able to compete with anybody local or international,” Paladee said.
On Monday, Pennywise opened its second plaza and its tenth location around Trinidad.
The latest Pennywise Plaza is located along the Narsaloo Ramaya Marg Road in Chaguanas.
Paladee did not give the size of the company’s investment into the project. But he expected that it would reap dividends.
“Rather not say about money obviously we live in Trinidad we are very cautious,” he said.
Paladee said the company had been able to achieve this growth by proper planning and innovation.
“This is because of planning, we are aware that the economy is flat or going a little minus. This year Pennywise’s growth rate has been the most for over the last five years. That’s because of innovation,” Paladee said.
But Pennywise is not stopping there, Paladee said as he announced plans to eventually open a plaza in Northern Trinidad.
Last year Pennywise opened an outlet at Long Circular Mall.
“We want to do one more like this in the North, obviously it will be a little bigger than this one (Pennywise Plaza in Chaguanas). This one is bigger than the La Romaine branch. It is almost identical as you can see, it is like a twin but it is bigger and more spacious,” Paladee said.
Pennywise CEO said there were no plans as yet to open in Tobago.
“We will settle into the bigger…where the people can come to us,” Paladee said.
The newest Pennywise Plaza was constructed in six months.
“What you are seeing today is a living miracle that God has put for every single one of us to see unfold in front our eyes,” Paladee said.
He said it was a combination of hardwork, perseverance, grit and teamwork that helped the plaza come to fruition.
The new plaza is located next to the Xtra Foods Plaza.
Paladee said a conversation between Anand Naipaul of Xtra Foods and himself lead to this moment.
“The property we are standing on is because of his interaction with me about six years where he came to my office and tried to get me to rent the place that he is at now and we told him that we are not renting any more we are waiting and buying and expanding as we go,” Paladee said.
“And so with that conversation whatever happened transpired with God’s grace; somehow this property that was here two years prior to that conversation suddenly came into our possession and that is God’s grace,” he said.
Naipaul likened the Pennywise Plaza to Disneyland.
“This is magic, this is absolute magic I was passing here going to work and everyday I would see something going up it was so well co-ordinated it’s just amazing it’s like Disneyland where you just wake up one morning and everything is done and it came out so beautiful,” Naipaul said.
Paladee said Pennywise now had at least 18 store brands.
“When we bring our own brands we carry prices down,” Paladee said.
“We choose the brands that the people are looking for and we innovate, sometimes make our own brands and of course work very closely with our international trade partners to make sure that we give you all the best prices ever,” he said.
Paladee said the next step in the organisation’s progress was succession planning.
“The next step is the children are coming in, I have three boys and they are coming into the business,” Paladee said.
This will bring new ideas, he said.
“We have one who is a pharmacist; he is going to come on in 2020 and he is going to run the pharmaceutical department and you are going to get very shortly WhatsApp information where you could send in your prescription and get it in 20-30 minutes and we are already number one in ethical drugs in only three years,” Paladee said.
Pennywise was founded by the late Lall Paladee and supported by his wife Shanti Lall-Paladee.
Paladee would walk door to door selling pins and clips daily while his wife helped by earning some money as a seamstress.
He won a bicycle in a raffle which he used to ride for many miles daily, and sold buttons and other haberdasheries door to door.
He used to assist a friend with selling items at the Chaguanas market on weekends and the friend then moved on to something better and offered the market stall to Paladee.
Paladee and his children sold at the market together. They eventually opened another location at the Tunapuna market and expanded their portfolio as the business grew.
In 1984, they opened their first retail store at Arima.
“I dropped out of school because my dad wanted me to be a pharmacist; that was his ideal. I told him let me drop out of school, I can take this little business and do something with it and we took our brothers out of school and the one who had his degree already and we worked as a unit and this is the outcome,” Paladee said.