Jakarta. Berkarya Makmur Sejahtera president commissioner Hutomo Mandala Putra, commonly known as Tommy Suharto, opened Goro Cibubur – a large wholesale retail outlet – on the southeastern outskirts of Jakarta on Wednesday, marking his family's return to the public stage after maintaining a low profile for years.
Tommy, the youngest son of Suharto, Indonesia's second president, is also seeking public office through his Berkarya Party, established in 2016.
The Cendana family, which refers to Suharto's closest relatives and associates, built up an intricate network of businesses during the decades of the former president's authoritarian rule, which ended with his downfall in 1998.
In its heyday, the family had a diversified business empire consisting of hundreds of companies operating in various industries, including hospitality, automotive, mining and broadcasting.
Goro, which was one of the family's businesses, operated wholesale grocery stores similar to Makro Indonesia – which was taken over by South Korea's Lotte Mart and France's Carrefour – the latter's local operations now managed by business magnate Chairul Tanjung's CT Corp.
In the days leading up to the former Indonesian strongman's resignation on May 21, 1998, large mobs of people looted several stores in the greater Jakarta area, including Goro, amid fallout from the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.
However, Karya Makmur Sejahtera president director Milasari Kusumo Anggraini pointed out that Goro Cibubur was not a rebranding of the old Goro stores.
"'Goro' is a contraction of the term 'gotong-royong,' which means 'mutual cooperation.' It is not related to the old Goro stores. It is a new company; new management; and it is not a rebranding," Milasari told reporters on Wednesday.
The company plans two store concepts: minimarts, like Alfamart or Indomaret, and large warehouse-type supermarkets, such as Goro Cibubur.
She said the company aims to empower small and medium entrepreneurs living near its outlets, by sourcing products directly from them.
Tommy declined to disclose the value of the company's investment in the 1.6-hectare store in Gunung Putri, a subdistrict of Bogor, West Java. He could also not be drawn on the store's revenue target for the next year.
"We will disclose that later, once we become a public company. That is our main goal," Tommy said.
He said the company plans to eventually open about 500 Goro stores, one in every district and city in the archipelago.
Tommy said they would open a Goro store in East Java soon, supported by about 120 small and medium enterprises.
"We want to create an ecosystem, support farmers, ranch owners, fishermen and SMEs by standardizing their products and later encouraging them to sell their products to us. So, we are not only selling their products, but also empowering them," he said.
Milasari meanwhile said the company planned to open at least 30 stores across the country before the end of this year.