Category Archives: Business
Godrej – over 125 years young.
Our story began as part of India’s Swadeshi movement – the original ‘Make in India’ movement.
In 1897, Ardeshir Godrej, after a few failed ventures, sets up a lock company. For him, the key to success turns out to be locks!
In 1918, they launch Chavi, the first soap in the world to be made without animal fat. A score for Swadeshi and ahimsa!
Click Here to enjoy this incredible, ethical, growth story of our times….
An interesting look at the TATA story, starting with Rs. 21000 in 1868 to the conglomerate it has become today.
Click Here for this most interesting visual journey
A new generation is writing the next chapter of success at Parsi Dairy Farm. Sunday mid-day bags an exclusive look into their freshly-renovated Princess Street HQ and meets the family for stories about its legacy
From (front to back) Jeroo Nariman (seated), Meheru K Patel, Parvana S Mistry, Shernaz K Irani, Zeenia K Patel, Sarfaraz K Irani, and Bakhtyar K Irani at the brand’s Nariman Point office. Pics/Nimesh Dave
As Jeroo Nariman enters the corporate office of Parsi Dairy Farm (PDF) at Nariman Point in a wheelchair, she stops briefly in the lobby to look at the black-and-white portrait of her parents Nariman and Meherbai Ardeshir. Her father started the now iconic business on the busy Princess Street in erstwhile Bombay in 1916 with one can of milk. He took it upon himself to make the brand the gold standard in dairy. On the opposite wall is a photograph of a younger Jeroo with her brothers.
Matriarch Jeroo Nariman with her favourite mawa khaja sits near an archival portrait with her brothers Dinshaw, Mehrwan, Naval and Rusi taken at Parsi Dairy Farm at Princess Street 20 years ago
For Jeroo, it is the mawa khaja. “Flaky on the outside, deliciously creamy on the inside—this combination of the sweet-salty buttery layers of flaky pastry is undeniably the best,” says Nariman. Meheru talks fondly of PDF’s cottage cheese. “It’s so rich and creamy, I use it to make dips when I host parties.”
A lawyer by education, Shernaz’s son, Bakhtyar K Irani (41) is Managing Director with the company. How a can of milk sold on the streets over a hundred years ago by his great-grandfather, transformed into an empire, with stables for the cows and buffaloes bought at Mazgaon, which later shifted to Andheri and Jogeshwari as the business flourished, is a story you’ve got to hear from him.
“About 50 years ago,” he says, “we shifted to Talassary on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway, where we have a parcel of 300 acres of land for a huge supply of livestock. This allows us to work with four varieties of milk—full-fat buffalo, low-fat buffalo, no-fat buffalo and cow milk.”
Bakhtyar was nicknamed the Toffee Boy of St. Mary’s school because on his birthday, he distributed PDF’s decadent milk drops toffees among classmates. In the latest round of rebranding, this candy will be rechristened the Great Indian Toffee, and the plastic wrapper will be thrown away. It will be available through a dispenser. Think a jukebox for toffees, pull the lever and collect your stash in a carousel-shaped cardboard box, and pay by the gram.
The store’s new look has vibrant colours, a toffee vending machine and a special kulfi cart. Pic/Ashish Raje
Meheru’s daughter, Parvana S Mistry, is a Le Cordon Bleu alumni and the company’s Operations Director. She tells us that original recipes have been retained and systems have been standardised around them to make the processes modern and systematic. “We are proud of the recipes handed down through three generations,” adds Mistry whose favourite memory is observing the making of the iconic suterfeni. “I am still fascinated by the process—from dough to fine strands that melt in your mouth.”
The refurbished Princess Street outlet opens doors tomorrow. Two other outlets—at Borivli and Ghatkopar—are set to open a month later. Parvana’s husband, Shahen Mistry of Shahen Mistry Architects, was brought on board to helm the store design and interiors.
“The concept was to infuse a sense of modernity while keeping its traditional values intact,” he explains. “The house blue colour is retained, while a big red door takes centre stage,” he explains. “We have retained the signature stripes and colour palette. The Great Indian Toffee Counter makes a bold statement within the classy and subdued shop interiors. Sandwiched between classical wooden panels which house the display fridges, this toffee counter is an interactive attraction for both, old and young. We added coloured light and sound displays to bring fun and energy to the shop.”
As for the new product line, there will be a focus on cheese some time later, but for now, new additions include Milk Masala and Chai Masala Powders. But more importantly, the idea is to scale the reach pan India. Shernaz’s younger son, Sarfaraz K Irani (38) is Sales Director, and studied interior design. “We want to take our tradition and these products to every corner of the country. We will leverage our online platforms to reach there and bring in a stronger digital presence,” he says.
Sarfaraz’s favourite and proudest moments came when they’d travel on the Deccan Queen during vacations and vendors would come to sell the family their own PDF kulfi. “We’d proudly buy it even though we had access to it every day back home,” he says, adding, “At the revamped store, our windows will have life-size installations of kulfi, and everyday products such as ghee.”
We remember the collective display of grief and dismay, not too long ago, when news of the business folding up spread. Understanding that a company cannot run on nostalgia alone, the family worked to turn the game around. The camaraderie they share and respect for the brand’s legacy is clearly behind this reinvention
During the interview, it is amply clear that Jeroo is the beloved witty grandaunt; the two sisters had so much to catch up on, even though they just met two days ago. The cousins respect each other. “We feel confident about the four taking over,” says Shernaz, “Each of them is strong in their respective roles; together they are a force.” Meheru adds in unison, “We are sure they will take our legacy to greater heights.”
What is it, we wonder, that protects the integrity and appeal of a century-old brand? “We grew up with the same family values and culture, watching this business and playing around it,” says Bakhtyar, “It is what drives us because it is extremely close to our hearts. Another aspect is that we’ve seen how even as the business scaled over the years, our family held on to traditional recipes and practices, preserving the authentic taste and following stringent standards that gave us the competitive edge. As we embrace modernity, our commitment to tradition and purity continues to bring people back to us. People believe that if it is a Parsi Dairy Farm product, quality is sacrosanct.”
A very interesting read from one of the most respected and valued Business Houses in India
An interesting story to share…. I am sure most may have used Cinthol Soap during the years…
THE ORIGIN OF “CINTHOL” SOAP
For the last several decades, Cinthol has been ruling the roost as the most popular mid-segment soap with its “in-built” deodorizer which beats competition by a mile.
What could have been the secret behind it which no other soap-makers were able to match for decades? Well, the secret lies in the 10 years of intense research carried out by Dr Burjor Godrej, who was so passionate about soap-making that he actually took it up as his thesis for PhD during the 1930s while pursuing higher studies at a prestigious University in Germany.
In 1939, as war broke out in Germany, Dr Burjor returned to India with his incomplete thesis, but continued working on it at Godrej which was headed by his father Pirojsha Godrej (Co-Founder of Godrej Group). Although he managed to submit the thesis at the German University after the war, he wanted to utilize that knowledge to develop an idigenous product of world class standards.
Dr Burjor Godrej had noticed that most of the working professionals in India, who were upwardly mobile, used to buy perfumes or deodorants as well because their soaps were not sufficient to tackle the tropical climate prevalent across the sub-continent. That’s when he decided to take up the challenge of producing a soap which could play the role of a deodorant as well, and carried out further research on various chemical combinations.
During his research, he found that a certain Phenol based advanced composition could be an effective deodorizing agent along with anti-bacterial properties, which could be combined with soap. In the early 1950s, Dr Burjor applied for a patent for the technique of producing soap using those Phenol based compounds, and started a new division in Godrej for the soap project. Since the Phenol based compound was produced synthetically, it was initially codenamed “Synthetic Phenol” soap.
When it was time to give a commercial name to the “Synthetic Phenol” soap, Dr Burjor Godrej combined the first few letters of Synthetic (SYNTH) and last few letters of Phenol (OL) to form SYNTHetic + phenOL => SYNTHOL. Just to give some youthful twist, he replaced SYN with CIN which still resulted in the same pronunciation (Synthol = Cinthol), and thus the final product called Cinthol Soap was launched on15th Aug 1952, and there has been no looking back since then.
Mumbai’s famous vada pav, akuri on toast, Bombay sandwich, and Bombil fry aside, there’s one other specialty that Mumbaikars hold true to heart — the wafer ice cream sandwich that K Rustom’s has been serving up for more than 50 years.
This iconic dessert sandwich is rather simple in concept — a thick slab of ice cream between two crisp wafers. Since the 1950s, Irani ice cream parlour K Rustom’s has been proudly dishing out this legendary dessert from its single outlet near Churchgate. Mumbai-based Parsi boy Jehan Mehta, who had grown up savouring this dessert, always thought it was special.
After completing his college education in the UK, Jehan returned to India. He knew his heart was not in the corporate world, and was keen on pursuing entrepreneurship, but a good solid idea was yet to strike.
Soon however, inspiration did strike — on a visit to K Rustom’s to grab an ice cream sandwich. Jehan realised how the age-old brand had kept its legacy intact with a loyal customer base, and that was a eureka moment for Jehan.
In a conversation with SMBStory, Jehan recalls, “I thought, why not take the sandwich ice cream across Mumbai, and perhaps even pan-India? Opening a franchise store of K Rustom’s seemed like an exciting idea.”
In 2019, Jehan foundedalong with his school friend Soham Jhaveri. They set up the factory in Mumbai’s Prabhadevi area from where they delivered orders. Now, the brand is opening its first outlet in the city’s densely populated area, Charni Road.
Ice cream sandwich for the masses
Jehan and Soham invested around Rs 75 lakh in total to set up an ice cream factory, bring in raw materials, and the required manpower. In January 2020, the duo began selling their ice cream sandwich online.
“We started out from Prabhadevi in Mumbai, advertising through social media, and of course, word-of-mouth helped too. We started getting a good response,” Jehan recalls.
Within the first two months alone, Tandy’s had sold around one thousand ice cream sandwiches.
Tandy’s Creamery wafer ice cream
However, before Jehan could start distributing to other areas, the pandemic hit India, followed by strict lockdowns that led to the closure of many businesses.
“We didn’t know how to react. We had invested some money and that was blocked. There were absolutely no sales for the next few months, and we were left wondering what would happen next,” admits Jehan.
Adding to the circumstances were all the fears associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, like people were increasingly worried about consuming cold desserts. The duo racked their brains to understand how to revive the business, and soon decided they had to pivot to stay relevant, which had them launching a B2B dairy besides running the ice cream brand.
Pivoting to sustain
Jehan discovered that local retailers were experiencing a shortage of milk. So, using his network and resources, he collaborated with a dairy farm in the outskirts of Mumbai to supply milk to retailers. Since this accidental foray, there has been no looking back.
Tandy’s Creamery soon started supplying milk and paneer to restaurants, hotels, bars, and more. And once the restrictions started easing and markets opened up, Jehan saw that ice cream sales were increasing too.
Today, Tandy’s Creamery sources 1,200 litres of milk for its daily supplies, and receives around 6,000 orders for ice cream every month. The founder claims the brand’s revenue is touching approx Rs 7 lakh a month.
Tandy’s wafer ice cream sandwich prices start from Rs 50 onwards. “We want to cater to the masses hence, we operate at a nominal price,” says Jehan.
He claims Tandy’s Creamery uses all natural flavours and is a vegetarian brand with no preservatives in its ice creams.
Challenges and the way ahead
Jehan is candid when he talks about his challenges, and says that supply chain is one of the biggest problems for SMBs like them in the industry.
“In the initial phase, we had to suffer a lot due to lack of cold-chain supply infrastructure for a small-level business like ours. But, we worked on it and now we have bought our own refrigerated van through which we deliver our orders,” he adds.
Although the brand has expanded in every way, Jehan is clear that his initial goal is yet to be fulfilled — he wants to ensure Tandy’s sandwich ice creams reach the nooks and corners of Mumbai by early next year. By December this year, Tandy’s Creamery would have two more outlets, one each in Churchgate and Andheri.
The company also plans to be available on food aggregator apps. Jehan also plans to introduce a sugar free ice cream range soon.
Tata Group has emerged as most trusted conglomerate in the recent poll conducted by Equitymaster, an independent equity research firm.
The Tata Group has garnered 66 per cent of the total votes, which is more than double the number of votes (32 per cent), it had received in the last such poll conducted in 2013.
Interestingly, the 153-year-old AV Birla Group and Mukesh Ambani Group occupied second and third place with meagre vote of 5 per cent and 4.7 per cent of the votes, respectively.
A total of 5,274 people participated to vote on 17 large corporates based on their trustworthiness.
In fact, except for Tata Group none of the other 16 groups have been able to win the trust of over 5 per cent of the total number of participants, although many of these groups have moved up a few ranks from Equitymaster’s last poll conducted in 2013.
The Birla Group, Godrej, and TVS have moved up two ranks, the Mukesh Ambani Group jumped six ranks while the Rahul Bajaj group, which came in fourth place, moved up nine ranks from the last poll.
Another significant change in this year’s poll results was that only 2 per cent investors voted for ‘None of the Above’ category as opposed to 4 per cent in 2013.
The group that received the least number of votes (0.8 per cent) is the RPG (Ram Prasad Goenka) group, the company that owns Ceat Tyres.
The poll reveals that there is a huge gap between the winner and the rest of the corporate groups, said Equitymaster in a statement on Wednesday.
Rahul Shah, co-head of Research, Equitymaster said an increasing portion of a firm’s value resides in intangibles such as goodwill and reputation and when it comes to making intangibles tangible, nothing is more important than trust.
“The attribute flows from a company’s leadership through the organisation to its external stakeholders which ultimately increases profitability over the long-term. However, if not paid attention to, a lack of trust can have the opposite effect.”