A FULLY BAKED IDEA
Fortune India|March 2021
How did a Ludhiana-based company go from being an experimental home kitchen to the bourses? The success story of Mrs. Bectors Food is rooted in its visionary leader Rajni Bector and her genetically-blessed taste buds.
Debojyoti Ghosh

MOST WEDDING FEASTS of the early 1980s in the northern part of the country—think Punjab, Haryana, and thereabouts— would typically have a set of flavours in common: that of Rajni Bector’s ice creams, puddings, and salads with her signature dressings.

As she proudly proclaims, in the catering business world of Punjab and Haryana, she was the sole supplier of Western desserts and salads.

“I was catering to thousands of weddings in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ambala, and even Delhi, Dehradun, and Saharanpur. Back then there were no caterers who could provide these items to weddings and parties,” says Rajni Bector, founder and non-executive director, Mrs Bectors Food Specialities Limited.

Four decades later, the biscuit-and-bakery firm started in her home kitchen in Ludhiana, Punjab is India’s leading supplier of buns to quick-service restaurant (QSR) chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, and Carl’s Jr. To boot, the company's541-crore blockbuster initial public offer (IPO) on the bourses (BSE and NSE) last December was oversubscribed by 198 times on the final day of bidding on December 17, reveals stock exchange data.

It reported the highest subscription among IPOs last year, outpacing the subscription figures of defence company Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders and Burger King India.

The company is also the second-largest exporter of biscuits in the global market, says Sagarika Mukherjee, vice president at Elara Capital. “The fact that they are contract manufacturers for Oreo biscuits [owned by snack-food giant Mondelez] is a testament of their quality,” she says. Mrs. Bectors Food manufactures Oreo biscuits and Cadbury Chocobakes cookies on a contract basis for Mondelez India Foods which owns brands such as Cadbury, Bournvita, Halls, and Tang.

FROM THE KITCHEN TO THE BOURSES

Rajni Bector started the company in 1978. She set up a small unit in the backyard of her house with an initial capital of ₹20,000. Today it is one of India’s leading biscuits and bread manufacturers.

THE INITIAL YEARS

The business started expanding in a short span and in 1985 she invested ₹50,000 to set up a bread unit in Punjab which could bake 5,000 loaves a day, followed by an automated line for 50,000 loaves in 1989.

THE TURNING POINT

In 1996, the company started supplying buns to McDonald’s along with ketchup, toppings, and other condiments. The American fast-food giant was impressed with the production quality, systems, and processes of the Ludhiana-based company.

ATTRACTING INVESTORS

In 2006, Goldman Sachs, through its Mauritius-based unit Jade Dragon, picked up a stake in the company. In 2010, the global investment bank exited the business, selling its stake to Motilal Oswal Private Equity (MOPE).

NEWER INVESTORS

In 2015, Ajay Bector (Rajni Bector’s eldest son) and MOPE sold their stakes to private equity firms CX Partners and Gateway Partners.

BLOCKBUSTER IPO

Mrs Bectors Food Specialities reported the highest subscription among IPOs last year, outpacing defence company Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders and Burger King India.

HOW DID A FAMILY-RUN business from Punjab become a national player, and make it to No.363 on the Fortune India Next 500 list this year? The answer lies in the intrepidness of its founder, Rajni Bector.

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