Mrs. Bectors- Baking Goodness Since 1970s6 min readReading Time: 5 minutes
In the 1970s, a housewife in Ludhiana, Mrs. Rajni Bector, with a passion for cooking started a home baking business that was commercialized in the late 1970s with a mere investment of Rs. 20,000 that went on to become a larger than Rs. 1,000 crore business.
The founder of Mrs. Bector’s Cremica will always be remembered as the lady who went beyond the boundaries of the kitchen and laid the foundation for a big empire that exports food products in over 60 countries.
She received many awards during her stint as a businesswoman, but the one that reportedly remains close to her heart was when in 2005 she received it from former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. While presenting this award, the President addressed her as the ice cream lady.
Let’s see how Mrs. Bector traversed from being a passionate baker in her kitchen backyard to managing the forefront of a successful food business.
The Story Unfolds In Ludhiana!
Rajni Bector was born pre-partition in Karachi and spent her early childhood in Lahore, where her father was a government servant.
After the partition, the family moved to Delhi where Rajni completed primary education and joined Miranda House.
Rajni was 17 when she was married into the Bector family in Ludhiana after which she completed her graduation. She was a housewife and looked after her kids.
However, when her sons left for boarding school in Mussoorie, she had a lot of free time. That is when she decided to work for the society and got herself involved in several projects of the Lions Club. Along with the Lions Club, she also worked with the Red Cross and Ludhiana Ladies Club.
She had the urge to do something more constructive, however, back in those days, women of “well-to-do” families would not work. Hence, she started cooking which was her passion.
For The Love Of Baking
Rajni had a liking for cooking and enrolled herself in a baking course at Punjab Agricultural University. She was always on the hunt for occasions where she could serve people and try out new recipes, and she often invited people over for tea, lunches, dinners, and children for a swim and served them her treats.
Everyone loved her ice cream, cakes, and cookies, and people suggested she start a business out of it.
Taking her peers’ advice, Rajni began making different types of ice cream using hand-churner and putting up stalls at local fetes and funfairs. One of Rajni’s first stalls was right next to Kwality, a popular ice cream brand. But even then her ice cream was a hit and the manager of the Kwality stall also came over to taste her ice cream.
She got an excellent response and people started pouring in catering orders as she started her business with an initial investment of Rs. 300 more and more orders for parties and functions started coming in. During her initial stint, Rajni served 2,000 puddings at a wedding hosted by a local Member of Parliament.
When Passion Surpasses Everything
Rajni put in her hard work and heart into the business but she ended up selling the products at a lower cost, incurring losses. That’s when her husband Dharamvir stepped in to advise her and he said that she needs to look at it as a business and make a profit. He said that she should expand and commercialise the business.
In the late 1970s, Rajni set up a small ice-cream manufacturing unit in her backyard with an investment of Rs. 20,000, which enabled her to take bigger catering orders. She worked more than 12 hours a day for her business.
The Bector family’s century-old trade in fertilizers, oil, and food grains business faced a massive setback in the 1990s as terrorism flourished in Punjab and tensions between Hindu traders and Sikh farmers increased. The family decided to wound up the business and focus on the baking business.
By the 1990s, Mrs. Bector’s Cremica was a Rs. 5 crore business and the family decided to invest their time in this business. Mrs. Bector’s sons joined the business to make it bigger and more successful. As soon as the family joined hands together, the business grew exceptionally and touched a turnover of Rs. 20 crore.
Around 1995, a new opportunity was knocking at Cremica’s door. McDonald’s decided to enter India and was looking for a local supplier. So, the quick-service restaurant chain zeroed in on Cremica for the supply of buns.
From Biscuits To Sauces – A Rs. 1000 Crore Brand
Many multi-national companies started taking note of Cremica and its high standard of food. The company’s factory in Phillaur, Punjab started making biscuits that were sold by Cadbury’s and ITC’s Sunfeast.
Cremica also started selling biscuits, sauces, and condiments under its own brand “Mrs. Bector’s Cremica Foods”
By 2006, the company’s top line was generating Rs. 100 crore, with a healthy year-on-year growth of 30%. During that time Goldman Sachs took a 10% stake, for Rs. 50 crore and the proceedings were used to further expand the business. The business had started expanding and Cremica had plants in Greater Noida, Mumbai, and Una in Himachal Pradesh and so on.
In 2011-12, Cremica crossed annual sales of Rs. 650 crore. The company now employs over 4000 people across locations.
In FY20 Cremic’s annual sales were Rs. 765 crore making it a Rs. 1,000 crore company. Now, Rajni Bector’s sons look after the business, however, she is still involved when it comes to new recipes.
The company has its operations in 60 countries and has an extensive product range including Tomato Ketchup, Sauces, Mayonnaise, Bread Spreads, Salad Dressings, Syrups, and Dessert Toppings.
Cremica operates India’s largest tomato ketchup line and is the country’s largest producer of ketchup portion packs capable of packing 2.5 million sachets per year. These high-quality products have made a mark and are even exported to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the US, and Australia.
Rajni will always be remembered as a woman who stepped out of her boundaries and started a business out of her kitchen that expanded it into a large food company.
Mrs. Bectors Food IPO details
Mrs. Bectors Food Specialties will open its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on Dec 15 to raise up to Rs. 540.54 crore with a price band of Rs.286 to Rs.288 per share. The IPO will be open from Dec 15 to Dec 17.
Mrs. Bectors Food IPO comprises a fresh issue of equity shares and an offer for sale of aggregating by Linus Private Limited, Mabel Private Limited, GW Crown PTE. Ltd and GW Confectionery PTE. Ltd.
Part of the proceeds from the stake sale will be used to finance project costs towards Rajpura Expansion Project by establishing a new production line for biscuits. Promoters of the company including Anoop Bector, his family, and a family trust own 52.40% in Mrs. Bectors Food, post the IPO the stake of promoters will be down to 51%.
Mrs. Bectors manufactures and sells a variety of bakery and frozen products such as buns, kulchas, pizzas, and cakes for quick service restaurants (QSR) such as McDonald’s, Wow Momos, Burger King, Dominos, PVR, Cafe Coffee Day, GOLI, etc. and also sells under its own brand.
SBI Capital Markets Limited, ICICI Securities Limited, and IIFL Securities Limited are the book-running lead managers to the offer.