Back After a Lunch Break
Forbes India|February 26, 2021
How Cello Group, one of the biggest plastic and glassware makers in India, rode the crisis on the back of their diverse portfolio
Rajiv Singh

Gaurav Rathod went on a lunch break last March. He doesn’t remember the last time he took so long to finish his tiffin. He was not alone, though. Post-lockdown, the entire nation took an unusual break. Schools got closed, offices shut down, and everything came to a screeching halt. “Everybody stopped carrying tiffin boxes,” recalls Rathod, director of Cello Group. Even water bottles and steel flasks disappeared from the view. “Hydration—water bottles, and flasks of all kinds—is our biggest revenue churner,” adds the third-generation entrepreneur who joined the family business seven years ago. A prolonged shutdown of schools, colleges and offices only meant one thing for the group which had an overwhelmingly strong offline presence across 50,000 retail network and 600 outlets: Massive trouble.

Back in 2013—the year Rathod joined the family business—there was apparently trouble of another kind. Cello Group had spread itself wide: From plastic and steel houseware to writing instruments, moulded furniture, and bubble guard sheets. The young entrepreneur carried ahead the legacy of the company, which started in 1967 by making PVC footwear and bangles. Rathod started kitchen appliances in his debut year. Four years later, he ventured into the glassware business. Though by 2017 the company had exited the pen business, to an outsider, the group looked confusing: Too many products, categories and divisions. To Rathod, though, it always made sense to have a diversified presence. After all, Cello, he underlines, is perceived as a homeware and household brand. So one has to be present across materials and segments. “Everything had perfect synergy,” he adds. Cello went on to add air coolers and cleaning products over the last few years.

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