How COVID-19 pushed these legacy brands to build a D2C presence, and other top stories of the week

This week, SMBStory captured the stories of two legacy brands — Hamdard Labs and GN Bros Sarees — that strengthened their digital presences in the wake of COVID-19.

Even as COVID-19 brought many industries to their knees, the digital ones survived, especially ecommerce. In fact, the pandemic not only helped strengthen the revenue of companies already operating on this model but also pushed several older players to join the digital bandwagon.

This week, SMBStory captured the stories of two such brands — Hamdard Labs and GN Bros Sarees — that strengthened their digital presences in the wake of COVID-19.

Hamdard Labs

Abdul Majeed, Chairman, Hamdard Laboratories (Medicine Division)

Hamdard, an Unani pharmaceutical company, was originally founded in 1906 by Hakeem Hafiz Abdul in undivided India's capital, Delhi. After the founder passed away, his wife Rabia Begum kept the business alive with the support of her son Hakeem Abdul Hameed.

Headquartered in New Delhi, this Made-in-India brand went on to become a household name across India with popular products such as Sharbat Rooh Afza, Safi, Roghan Badam Shirin, and more.

Abdul Majeed, the current Chairman of Hamdard Laboratories (Medicine Division) alongside his father Abdul Mueed, undertook the task of modernising the age-old family business a decade ago. Recently, the company also realised the importance of building an online presence for its brand. 

Until recently, Hamdard did not have much of a presence on ecommerce and online platforms. But, in the last year, it  increased access to its products, and put most of them online. The company is already seeing sales increase day by day on platforms such as Amazon and 1MG. 

According to Majeed, last year, the medicine division closed sales at Rs 382 crore. Taking this route, it is eyeing to become a Rs 1,000 crore revenue company in five years. 

Read the full story here.

GN Bros Sarees

Mukund B Agrawal, Director, GN Bros Sarees

Mukund B Agrawal, Director of Banaras-based GN Bros Sarees Pvt Ltd, had always dreamt of having an exclusive online store. While the thought of going online first occurred to him in 2005, it took the company 15 years and a pandemic to turn this dream into reality.

"The pandemic brought our business to a grinding halt. Hence, we thought of reinvigorating our online project. It was a really good opportunity for us; so, we decided to take it up seriously and work on it for long term growth," says Mukund, the brainchild behind, an online portal that went live in August 2020.

Owned and operated by GN Designer Handlooms Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of GN Bros Sarees Pvt Ltd, sells ethnic wear for women, including Banarasi sarees, designer blouses, Banarasi suits, and dupattas.

It also offers custom suits and other garment stitching services and has 300 odd SKUs on its website.

Started with an investment of Rs 1.5 lakh, is currently bootstrapped and not looking for funding.

According to the founders, it is growing at 10-15 percent per month, and the company is planning to increase its online catalogue by three folds, which will render a projected growth of 30 to 40 percent in the coming months.

Read the full story here.

Other top stories of the week-

Organic India

Bharat Mitra and Bhavani Lev, Cofounders, Organic India

Long before ‘organic’ became a household term, Bharat Mitra and Bhavani Lev launched Organic India in 1997 in Lucknow to “provide solutions for healthy, conscious living”. 

Almost 25 years later, Organic India – one of the first organic brands from India —  works with over 2,500 farmers, has more than 200 SKUs, and is present in 40 countries. In FY20, the company earned more than Rs 357 crore. 

Subrata Dutta, Group Managing Director, Organic India, takes SMBStory through the journey of the brand, reveals how Organic India grew significantly in the last year despite the successive lockdowns, and what lies ahead for the “organic industry.”

Read the full story here.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta


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