The story of one of India's favourite brands reads almost like a fairy tale. Once upon a time, in 1892 to be precise, a biscuit company was started in a nondescript house in Calcutta (now Kolkata) with an initial investment of Rs. 295. The company we all know as Britannia today.
The beginnings might have been humble-the dreams were anything but. By 1910, with the advent of electricity, Britannia mechanised its operations, and in 1921, it became the first company east of the Suez Canal to use imported gas ovens. Britannia's business was flourishing. But, more importantly, Britannia was acquiring a reputation for quality and value. As a result, during the tragic World War II, the Government reposed its trust in Britannia by contracting it to supply large quantities of "service biscuits" to the armed forces.
As time moved on, the biscuit market continued to grow… and Britannia grew along with it. In 1975, the Britannia Biscuit Company took over the distribution of biscuits from Parry's who till now distributed Britannia biscuits in India. In the subsequent public issue of 1978, Indian shareholding crossed 60%, firmly establishing the Indianness of the firm. The following year, Britannia Biscuit Company was re-christened Britannia Industries Limited (BIL). Four years later in 1983, it crossed the Rs. 100 crores revenue mark.
On the operations front, the company was making equally dynamic strides. In 1992, it celebrated its Platinum Jubilee. In 1997, the company unveiled its new corporate identity - "Eat Healthy, Think Better" - and made its first foray into the dairy products market. In 1999, the "Britannia Khao, World Cup Jao" promotion further fortified the affinity consumers had with 'Brand Britannia'.
Britannia strode into the 21st Century as one of India's biggest brands and the pre-eminent food brand of the country. It was equally recognised for its innovative approach to products and marketing: the Lagaan Match was voted India's most successful promotional activity of the year 2001 while the delicious Britannia 50-50 Maska-Chaska became India's most successful product launch. In 2002, Britannia's New Business Division formed a joint venture with Fonterra, the world's second largest Dairy Company, and Britannia New Zealand Foods Pvt. Ltd. was born. In recognition of its vision and accelerating graph, Forbes Global rated Britannia 'One amongst the Top 200 Small Companies of the World', and The Economic Times pegged Britannia India's 2nd Most Trusted Brand.
Today, more than a century after those tentative first steps, Britannia's fairy tale is not only going strong but blazing new standards, and that miniscule initial investment has grown by leaps and bounds to crores of rupees in wealth for Britannia's shareholders. The company's offerings are spread across the spectrum with products ranging from the healthy and economical Tiger biscuits to the more lifestyle-oriented Milkman Cheese. Having succeeded in garnering the trust of almost one-third of India's one billion population and a strong management at the helm means Britannia will continue to dream big on its path of innovation and quality. And millions of consumers will savour the results, happily ever