Who would have thought that even the humble bhujia could command a worldwide presence! But, take a moment and think if any house party is complete without Bikaneri Bhujia, you would get your answer.
Bikaji is one of those Brands taking Bikaneri Bhujia to the global map.
Bikaji is a leading FMCG brand in India and abroad with its core products line of Bhujia, Namkeen, Papad, Snacks, and Sweets. All products are made using select raw materials procured from best in their category, processed in an isolated and hygienic environment and are untouched by human hand and are packed in a state-of-the-art automated packaging plant.
Bikaji Foods International Ltd, started as Shivdeep Industries Ltd was founded in 1987 at Bikaner, Rajasthan by Shri Shivratan Agarwal.
Bikaji has made a name for itself in the list of top suppliers of Sweets & Namkeen, Sweets in India. The company is located in Bikaner, Rajasthan and is one of the leading sellers of these items.
Bikaji produces, daily, around 125 tonnes of savories (bhujia, namkeen, papad among others) and sweets in its two factories. The brand Bikaji has become an established player in the packaged foods business, generating a revenue close to INR 800 crore (FY2018) with a presence in 20 states through its distributors. The snacks, earlier unbranded commodities produced by the local halwai, are now retailed in a range of pack sizes and consumed in India and abroad.
The Men Behind it
Shivratan Agarwal is the grandson of the legendary Gangabhisan ‘Haldiram’ Bhujiawala, who started his business from a small shop in Bikaner in the 1930s. Over the years, his descendants spread out to other metros to establish themselves. After a legal battle in the 1990s, they marked their turf within India and overseas. But Agarwal knew that division by region would become a barrier to growth. He decided to branch into a new brand, ‘Bikaji’, named after Raja Bika who had founded Bikaner.
Deepak Agarwal, Man on a Mission
In 2004, Agarwal’s only son Deepak expanded the business to include fast food and a dozen other products. Apart from increasing sales, introducing new packaging and sub-brands, he also began exporting frozen foods to international markets.
Bringing Bikaji Foods this far, however, was easier said than done, considering that bhujia was largely an unorganized sector. Shedding light on the challenges faced by the company, Agarwal followed his father’s vision and farsightedness, which saw Bikaji successfully market its products by introducing pouch packaging, which not only made the products look more attractive but also increased their shelf life. Nowadays many brands are getting organized. But in that starting period, it is challenging to create a brand due to the inadequacies of the communication and distribution sectors. Making customers aware of products like bhujia, namkeens, etc, in packed format is difficult. Also, a prime challenge is to reach to the vast market from Bikaner.
Traditionally, Bikaji catered to Rajasthan, Assam, and Bihar where Namkeen has many takers. But Deepak, lured in new customers with extruded products, chips and newer varieties of sweets. He got a positive response from the US and Canada markets for frozen Rabdi, Rasmalai and Motichur Ladoos.
Why It Is A Gem
Bikaji is on the cusp of growth, has invested Rs 150 crore in a new factory which is four times larger than the existing premises. Production from the new facility, with automated lines with faster, more hygienic production started a couple of years back.
In April 2014, PE firm Lighthouse Funds, which has been investing in consumer-focused companies in India, picked up 12.5 percent (for Rs 90 crore, valuing the company at Rs 750 crore) in Bikaji Foods. Sachin Bhartiya, a partner at Lighthouse, says the demand for branded snack-foods can only increase in India. “Few Indian companies have the strong brand and distribution reach that Bikaji has. The company is selling more than it can produce,” he said
A global presence.
As of today, apart from an all-India presence, Bikaji has markets in the USA, UK, Europe, UAE, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, Thailand, Oman, Qatar and a host of other countries. It has two manufacturing facilities which produce and sell a whopping 250 tonnes of products every day! Its turnover has grown from ₹187 crore in 2011 to ₹783 crore in 2018, registering a CAGR of over 22 percent. Apart from manufacturing, it has also forayed into the services industry with restaurants in Mumbai and Thane called Bikaji Food Junxon and has converted the Basant Vihar Palace in Bikaner into a heritage hotel, after purchasing the royal property. To boost growth, it received a ₹90 crore funding in private equity in 2014 from Lighthouse and ₹251 crore in primary and secondary investment from IIFL in 2018.
The road ahead
Bikaji is in a growing phase, and it is now working aggressively to reach every household! Further, Bikaji wants to diversify from bhujia, namkeens, etc, to all possible eatable products to make Bikaji a global brand. The company, incidentally, has a range of frozen and ready-to-eat products on its mind, towards which a state-of-the-art production facility is envisaged in the future. Further, it is in the process of coming up with an IPO in 2019. Considering this all-around growth, it would seem that the best has just begun.