The story of one of India’s largest business groups that started from selling carpets out of a car
The journey of one of India’s largest business groups began with just Rs 50,000. Today, the Bhartiya Group sells fashion to over 150 retailers across the world and has a real estate portfolio worth Rs 25,000 crore.
You can never know which step forward will bring you success or help you touch the greatest heights. But it is true that every successful business is made with one courageous decision after another. Take Snehdeep Aggarwal, for example, who built a huge business empire trusting his instincts and hard work.
Born and raised in Amritsar, Punjab, Snehdeep comes from a family of traders who dealt in dry fruits and spices. Young and filled with passion to make his own identity and not join the family business, Snehdeep started his own carpet business in 1979 with a borrowed capital of Rs 50,000 from his father.
At the time, little did he know this small business would turn into a mammoth business across fashion, real estate, and more – becoming one of India’s largest businesses, the Bhartiya Group.
In an interaction with SMBStory, second-generation entrepreneur Arjun Aggarwal, says,
“My father started selling carpets out of the trunk of his car. Gradually, he ventured into exports. This is when he realised that India has a lot of potential in the export segment and so, taking bold steps, he diversified into the leather business, and since then, there has been no looking back.”
The ladder of success
After entering the carpets business and diversifying its exports to Europe, Snehdeep realised that the world is opening up to exports from India and that the demand for leather was huge. Thus, in the 1980s, he began exporting leather market to Italy, Spain, and Asia, procuring the products from the local market.
“India is one of the largest producers and exporters of leather in the world, and it seemed a good opportunity for my father to enter into this sector. Through his vision and strong insights, Bhartiya Group is one of the largest leather export houses in the country today,” says Arjun.
Not stopping there, in 1987, to cater to the retail sector with new designs, Snehdeep entered the fashion market, founding design studio, JV Inflorescence, in the design capital of the world Italy.
While it was a tough market to crack, it wasn’t long before the studio’s designs were being adapted by brands like Hugo Boss, Armani, Zara, and Mango. And from here, Bhartiya Fashion was born.
Today, Bhartiya Fashion is one of the leading manufacturers of leather apparel and accessories with retail supply chain solutions to many of the best fashion brands in Europe and North America. It has a network of 10 manufacturing units, six design and prototyping facilities, nine business development offices, and six showrooms worldwide. Every year, the brand develops more than 1,400 styles to 150 retailers across the world.
Bhartiya Fashion has a dedicated leather tannery in Chennai, which process 15,000 skins each day. It contributes about Rs 1,000 crore to the revenue of Bhartiya Group as a whole. The industrial park for leather and leather products is being promoted as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Tada, Andhra Pradesh. It is one of India’s first dedicated leather product SEZ.
From fashion to real estate
It was only in 2007 that Arjun stepped into the business with aspirations to take it to new levels. He recalls,
“Having spent my youth abroad studying and working, I was keen on developing a lifestyle for the people of India, and wanted to start something to cater to my aspiration. I realised that there is no good entertainment place for people in India except five-star hotels to eat at, and malls to hang out.”
After thorough research, Snehdeep’s son capitalised upon the idea to build “Bhartiya City” in the Silicon Valley of India- Bengaluru.
Bhartiya Urban Development was incorporated in Bengaluru with a vision to design and develop state-of-the-art, beautiful, and intelligent cities including homes, offices, and other infrastructure, which would enhance the quality of life for people in urban India.
According to Arjun, Bhartiya City has everything that a family or an individual would want for a comfortable, or rather, a luxurious lifestyle. These spaces offer air, sunlight, greenery, high-street markets, central parks, personal on-demand theatre for each family, extraordinarily equipped recreation club, walkways and cycle tracks, the opulent Leela Hotel and even marathon-running areas.
Bhartiya City offers homes, offices, and spaces for IT parks as well. The first phase of its Nikoo Homes has already been delivered, and a major chunk of its second phase has also been delivered.
“As of March 2020, Bharatiya Urban City has delivered a property development portfolio of Rs 25,000 crore and has sold around Rs 500 crore residential homes. It sold eight million sq ft last year, and is planning to release 10 million sq ft in the years to come,” Arjun tells SMBStory.
For Bhartiya Group, the major challenges it had to overcome was in the real estate sector. Due to several initiatives by the government like RERA, the imposition of GST, and demonetisation, the system received a clean-up. Due to these measures, those who played in unaccounted money – which was a large chunk of the real estate sector in India – collapsed, says Arjun.
“With so much going on in the realty market, the angle of affordable luxury housing too has emerged as a new perception. Finding a middle ground between low-cost housing and international standards is a challenge,” he adds.
Arjun further says that there are ongoing challenges in every business. The production challenge in fashion and quality challenges around construction material in real estate are hurdles businesses have to fight throughout.
According to him, the Group manages these speed-breakers in the best possible way.
The way ahead
With the coronavirus pandemic causing havoc on all businesses, the fashion sector has also taken a hit. The Bhartiya Group aims to speed up production and business as soon as the lockdown is lifted.
Talking about the real estate sector, Arjun says,
“The future depends on the present demands of the consumer. Current customers demand perfect privacy and legendary luxury, which will shape the future of the realty segment. Just to ensure that our customer gets what they desire, we are working on different concepts in which residences could experience five-star facilities and maintenance. We are crafting first-of-its-kind luxurious experiences – the Bhartiya Leela Residences.”
Besides, Bhartiya Urban City plans to expand the existing residential and IT park project along with a new project, which is a Convention Retail Mall in the Bhartiya City. This will house more than 25 F&B brands, destination restaurants, multi-screen theatres, and much more.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta