Years and Going strong – The Centenarian Brands of India

Even though the business and political landscape of India has undergone a sea change in the past 100 years, there are a few brands who have stood the test of time.  From the time, we were under colonial rule, to being a closed, socialist based centrally planned economy to the open economy we have today, these brands have withstood the onslaught of changing times and rules and regulations and are respected for the values that they stand for, even today.

Bombay Dyeing – The brand that is most popular for its textiles was started in 1879. They are part of the 250-year-old Wadia Group and Bombay Dyeing is their flagship brand. They have 5 manufacturing facilities and product suit material, shoe lining and duck fabrics, satin furnishings, yarn dyed fabrics, towels, table tops and napkins, satin bed sets, etc. They are the largest producers of textiles in India with exports of over 50% to North America and Europe.


Dabur -Did you know that ‘Da Bur’ came from ‘Daaktar Burman’. Dr.S.K. Burman was a dedicated doctor who believed in Ayurvedic natural remedies to deal with the diseases of the time like Cholera, Malaria etc. Dr. Burman set up Dabur from a small house in 1884. Since then the Brand has gone from strength to strength and is now an FMCG giant having products like hair oil, shampoos, oral care, skin care, food, homecare, over-the-counter medications etc.


Kirloskar –Kirloskar Brothers Limited (KBL) is an engineering company, established in 1888, that has built quite a name for itself in the industry with their pioneering innovations. It is the Flagship company of the Kirloskar group. The Iron Plough (1903), Centrifugal pump (1926), Diesel Engine (1927), Electric Motor (1940), Lathe Machine (1941), concrete Volute pump (1995) were some of the things they introduced in India.


Britannia : It is impossible to live in India and not know this brand. Started with an investment of Rs. 265, in 1892 to manufacture biscuits, in Kolkata, the original company has gone through many iterations and acquisitions. Acquired by the Wadia Group in 1918 their portfolio today includes Bakery products, including biscuits, bread, cakes and rusk, and dairy products, including milk, butter, cheese, ghee and dahi.


Punjab National bank: Established in 1894, is a Multinational financial services organization. Indian freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai was one of the people who seeded the idea of creating the first Bank with solely Indian capital. With over 80 million customers, it was recently voted as one of the top 5 banks in the nation.


Godrej: It all began in 1897 when a young lawyer named Ardeshir Godrej, decided to become an entrepreneur and entered the lock making business. Later on, in a pioneering effort, he created soap from vegetable oil. One study rates Godrej as the 6th most trusted brand in India. They have a diverse portfolio including real estate, consumer products, industrial engineering, appliances, furniture, security and agricultural products.


Shalimar Paints: This is India’s oldest paint company established in 1902. It was initially established by two British entrepreneurs. In 1989, the company was acquired by the O.P. Jindal Group and the Hong-Kong based S.S. Jhunjhnuwala Group. It is an interesting fact that it was the first company to paint a fighter aircraft for the Indian army. In 2014, the iconic brand won the ‘Brand Excellence’ award in the Brand revitalisation category given by the ABP group. Many of India’s iconic buildings have been painted with Shalimar Paint including the Rashtrapati Bhavan.


Nilgiris 1905– Arumuga Mudaliyar of Erode, Tamil Nadu was a mail runner for the British in colonial India. Since he was flooded with requests to carry dairy and other products beyond just mail, he decided to open his own store in 1905, after he bought a butter business from an Englishman, calling it Nilgiris Dairy Farm. Later he moved to Bangalore. His son after visiting abroad, expanded it into a super market. It is now a fully owned subsidiary of the Future Group of companies.


Roohafza: This brand was launched in 1907 by Hakim Abdul Majeed, a physician of Greco- Arabic medicine called Unani.  He named his company ‘Hamdard’ Laboratories which in Persian means “sympathizer in suffering”. The brand that was launched as a herbal refreshment drink was later repositioned as an additive to desserts, mocktails etc. Even though the company has almost 600 products, Roohafza is still its flagship brand which contributes to almost 1/3rd its sales.


The Times Group – The Times Group is India’s largest media house. Their flagship brand the Times of India, is the largest selling newspaper in the world, with their Economic times being the second largest selling newspaper in the world. Starting in 1838 as a semi-weekly paper named Bombay Times, it became a daily in 1850 when it was renamed Times of India.

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