As a boy, Tuan Haji Ali Hassan Mohd Hassan often got in trouble for playing football until sundown. Raised by pious parents, Ali Hassan, the youngest of eight siblings, was often scolded for neglecting his prayers. As the last straw, his father, Mohd Hassan, a former police officer, kicked him out of the house to teach his son a lesson. Ali Hassan moved from one of his friends’ houses to another, and eventually, the prodigal returned home.
Ali Hassan did not become a national footballer but he is definitely doing his part in shaping the sports industry in Malaysia. Founder of Al-Ikhsan Sports, Ali Hassan is offering affordable and quality sports paraphernalia to Malaysian athletes and sports lovers all over.
Modest Beginnings With Only RM50
Ali Hassan Bin Mohd Hassan was born in Johor Bahru on the 9th of July 1970. He continued his studies until the sixth form at Sekolah Menengah Sultan Islam and enrolled in the mechanical engineering diploma programme at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) under a scholarship. But Ali Hassan gave the scholarship money he received to support his family, who relied on his father’s pension. Due to this, Ali took up part-time jobs such as delivering pizza to fund his studies and daily needs.
When he graduated in 1993, Ali Hassan was offered to pursue his education abroad. But, he rejected the offer as he had expressed his interest in running a business.
Newly married to his wife, Puan Marina Bt Abu Bakar, Ali Hassan started by selling sports equipment with a small capital of RM50. His customers were his friends and lecturers at UTM.
I have to work hard. Whenever I receive the goods, I’ll make sure to sell them as soon as possible. – Tuan Haji Ali Hassan Mohd Hassan, founder of Al-Ikhsan Sports
Soon, he ran a one-man show kiosk in a 100sq feet kiosk at Holiday Plaza, Johor Bahru. That was the beginning of Al-Ikhsan Sports Sdn. Bhd, the well-known chain of sports shops that carries a wide variety of affordable sports gear.
Toiling To Expand His Business
When he wanted to scale his business, most banks rejected his loan application citing that it was unlikely he could pay RM20,000 – RM30,000 monthly for the rental of the shop lot.
The rejections did not stop him. In 1994, there was a sudden boom in his business and the sports retail industry. Al-Ikhsan soon became the household name for sports gear.
But growing success also meant coming face-to-face with competition and challenges. In 2012, a year after Al-Ikhsan was awarded the ASEAN Business Outstanding Award, tragedy struck. His outlets in Rawang, Ampang, Gombak, Sungai Buloh and Wangsa Maju were broken into and robbed. According to CCTV footage, police suspected that the crimes were acts of sabotage from ‘insiders’.
Ali Hassan did not allow these setbacks to stunt the growth of the business. He continued to work even harder to build the brand name and successfully acquired retailer status for international sports labels such as Adidas, Puma, Nike and Asics and more. Al-Ikhsan Sport continues to hold an exclusive licence for Umbro, an exclusive retail partner for Liverpool Football Club’s official merchandise.
In 2016, Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas) bought Al-Ikhsan Sports shares for RM68.6 million and today, the company is making a yearly revenue of RM330 million.
Philanthropist At Heart
With zero knowledge in business, Ali Hassan successfully took a small-scale sports retail business into Sendirian Berhad (PLC). Recently, they launched Al-Ikhsan sportswear, a line of affordable sports attire in keeping with their core value of ensuring that all can have access to affordable and quality sports gear.
This is in addition to more than 130 sports stores that carry sports goods in malls and the Al-Ikhsan Sports warehouse. Al-Ikhsan also has flagship stores catered specifically for football fans in Malaysia such as the Football Republic and Sneaker Street.
When the founder Ali Hassan began the journey, brands like Nike, Adidas and Puma were seen as extremely premium and unaffordable. However, over the years, we have made these global brands affordable for ordinary people.
We ensure that we work with various global brands to bring in Sports at a good-to-better level for over 30 million consumers in Malaysia. By doing so consumers can still buy their favourite Adidas or Nike but at lower prices than they expect. – Vach Pillutla, CEO, Al-Ikhsan Sports
However, the man behind the brand has often shied away from the limelight. To Ali Hassan, the focus should first and foremost be on his brand despite the increasing influencer marketing.
Each individual has their way of marketing their business. My business is Al-Ikhsan Sport. I sell sporting goods, so I need to popularise my shop. I don’t need to popularise myself. – Tuan Haji Ali Hassan Mohd Hassan, founder of Al-Ikhsan Sports
But, his good work for the community has not gone amiss in the public eyes. Raised by two philanthropists and a giver, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. His late parents provisioned their income for donation. His father was known to donate half of his pension earnings to charity and his mother used to pray for Ali to earn more money so she could donate more.
May Ali be successful and rich. So that he can provide me with more money, and I can give out more to charity. – Siti Maryam Bt Mahmood, Tuan Haji Ali Hassan Mohd Hassan’s late mother
Ali Hassan, through Al-Ikhsan’s corporate social responsibility, makes it mandatory for him and his employees to help the underserved weekly. At the same time, Ali Hassan delivers motivational talks and imparts his experience to students for free.
More affordable sports retailers cropped out over the years, but Ali Hassan had set precedence. Starting from a small capital of RM50 and 100sq ft kiosk, Al-Ikhsan Sports remains a choice for Malaysians to purchase affordable sports gear and become a springboard for many to lead a healthier lifestyle or pursue a career in sports.
Explore our sources:
- Luxainie. (2017). Kisah kejayaan pengasas Al Ikhsan Sports – Ali Hassan. iluminasi.com. Link
- Kifarah media. (n.d.). “Jangan Tinggal Solat, Jaga Ibu Bapa” Anda Pasti Terkejut Dengan Kebaikannya.. Link
- Insights. (2022). He Started His Biz With Only RM50, Now He Owns Over 130 Al-Ikhsan Stores. WargaBiz. Link
- Business Focus. (2020). AL-IKHSAN – IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN. Link
- M.A.Nizam. (2021). Tidak perlu diri saya popular – Pengasas Al-Ikhsan. Malaysia Gazette. Link