A growing middle class population is opening a lucrative business opportunity for entrepreneurs in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

A smart and seasoned PNG entrepreneur who is aggressively surfing these waves of economic boom is Mahesh Patel, co-founder and owner of City Pharmacy Limited.

Founded in 1986, CPL Group is a listed company on the Port Moresby Stock Exchange and is a leading retail organisation in PNG.

In 2005 it acquired the Stop & Shop supermarket chain in Port Moresby. It also boasts a full fledged bakery operation.

In 2009 the group acquired the Hardware Haus chain which also included the Kit Homes business. The IDM division of the group handles distribution, marketing and logistics for many institutional customers

‘The market is definitely changing,’ confirms Mahesh Patel, Chairman of the CPL Group, which experienced a ‘healthy increase’ in its bottom line performance in 2012.

Having introduced PNG’s consumers to Port Moresby’s first multiplex cinema and the Boncafé chain of coffee shops, Patel has launched PNG’s first pizza chain, and has opened a second cinema and a showcase supermarket in Port Moresby’s Waigani suburb.

CPL is one of a number of retailers expanding and upgrading their operations, with PNG’s only shopping mall, Vision City in Waigani, significantly expanding its list of tenants since opening in 2010.

Where once service was ‘one size fits all’, PNG’s banks too have developed premium services to cater for a more prosperous customer base. Another indicator of an expanding consumer market is the rapid growth of PNG’s first and only credit bureau according to PNG Business advantage.