Bakewell – Giving the world a taste of biscuits baked in Gujarat

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Considered the best hunger busters and munchies, biscuits enjoy around 37 per cent share of the bakery industry by volume and 75 per cent by value. They constitute approximately seven per cent of the Rs 478 billion FMCG markets in India. India is the third largest biscuit producer in the world after USA and China, and one of the key players in this market is Bakewell Biscuits.

Ten-year-old Bakewell was founded by biscuit manufacturer and exporter Mohammed Raish Suthar. With a manufacturing plant and office in Gujarat, Bakewell exports cookies and biscuits to African and Gulf countries. It has made investments with global manufacturing process standards and the annual revenue of the company in FY13 was US $818,000.

Bakewell wanted to expand in the US and European markets also, but lack of communication and employee management collaboration were constraints the company faced. Suthar realized that better communication and collaboration were required to manage employees as well as global distributors. Only then could the company support growth, especially with the management focussing on markets with a time difference of 10 to 12 hours.

“Since we had limited resources, our investments were initially focused on manufacturing. But we realized that in 10 years, the way people communicate in global markets had changed significantly while. This was an area where we were lagging behind,” says Javed Suthar, Head IT & Production and Purchase Manager at Bakewell.

Bakewell had started with using a free email service supported by a local service provider. Unfortunately, the service was unreliable with frequent outrages of external mail server. They spent considerable amount of money on various unreliable vendors for managing emails and hosting a website which was down most of the time. It also lacked a collaboration platform.

With the website down communication suffered. “This delayed everything, from quotes, invoices, sale or purchase orders and approvals, and adversely affected the business,”says Rafiq A Jethara, Exports Head of Bakewell.

The top level management had to come up with a solution that would solve the problem without increasing cost for the company. “We realized that only a world-class solution would allow us to work together irrespective of location, which in our case is a remote village. It was time for us to start investing in technology that would support growth,”Raish explains.

The Bakewell management discussed this with a local IT services firm and reached the conclusion that cloud-based solutions would provide a reliable and cost-effective alternative to an on-premise solution. Bakewell Biscuits deployed enterprise-class cloud-based Office 365 to enhance communication, collaboration and incorporate a reliable email system.

“I quite liked the idea of a single global vendor for all our IT requirements, from emails to website, an intranet and web conferencing. Also, local support apart from lower costs was a big reason to go with Office 365,”Raish says. With the deployment of Office365, Bakewell’s efficiency and productivity increased and expenses fell by 35 per cent. The cloud-based Office365 solution secured the company with automatic security updates.

The company also deployed SharePoint Online. Lync Online gave Bakewell flexibility to interact without adding expenses on STD or ISD phone bills and international travel. Besides information on status and users availability, it helped in setting up meetings on the fly as well as online chats.

“Through online meetings and conferencing, our travelling, telephone and shipping expenses have reduced considerably. We estimate that within one year, the collaboration and communication expenses will come down by 35 per cent,” hopes the founder.

“In India, we pick up the phone to communicate with customers. But in European markets this is considered an intrusion. Now I check customer availability and confirm convenience over IM before I call. This strengthens our relationships,” Raish adds.

With profitability at 30-50 percent a year, the University of Agriculture & Sciences estimates that the bakery industry in India generates Rs 10,000 crore in revenue. Most of the players are unorganized, which presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs inclined to baking. It’s good news for aspiring bakers!

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