Starting with a single oven, Bonn’s bread captured 70pc market share in Punjab, Himachal & J&K. Here’s how
India has seen a shift in its traditional food habits, and is getting more influenced by the western culture. Additionally, more Indians are changing their breakfast patterns with items like bread and jam becoming an integral part of their menu in modern times.
Influenced by this, Bonn Group was set up in 1985 by Manjit Singh. The company, which occupies a huge market share in North India, is one of the major players responsible for bringing high quality white and sandwich bread to Indian households.
Based in Ludhiana, Punjab, today it has rapidly grown and become a Rs 600 crore brand in the country. Presently, it has around 30 to 40 percent of the white bread market share in the whole of North India. The FMCG major has around 65 to 70 percent of the market share in regions like Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and J&K.
Apart from high quality bread, Bonn also manufactures biscuits, cakes, cookies and other bakery and confectionary products. It exports to over 55 countries in three continents and has also diversified its business by opening La Americana Burgers, its very own QSR chain.
“I was just 25 when I got into the Bonn Group’s family business with the vision of transforming the three-decade-old bakery into a facilitator of healthy eating habits. I wanted to bring a fresh and youthful perspective to the veteran organisation,” says Amrinder Singh, Director, Bonn Group, who is Manjit’s son. The father-son duo is responsible for a youth-oriented portfolio comprising the company’s brands La Americana Biscuits, La Americana Gourmet and the La Americana Burger QSR Chain.
“Each of these products was launched after extensive market and consumer preference analysis. All of them have been well received by consumers,” he adds. “I focus on whole food grains for Bonn’s line of bread, biscuits and cakes, do my best to bring conventionally Western food staples to Indian households. Further, the company has no investors and we are managing the cash flows within ourselves.”
Manjit says he started Bonn with the dream of bringing the best bread to all homes in India.
In its early days, Bonn used only five bags of flour a day. “It started off as a limited liability company and entered the food market with a single traditional oven,” says Amrinder.
“Soon, it received recognition amongst the local distributors for its superior quality of breads and established a significant name in the rural ‘Mandis’ of Ludhiana. Since then, the company has never looked back, and has constantly expanded,” he adds.
Manjit, however, didn’t compromise on quality service even though the products were circulated only at Punjab’s grassroot levels. “He always believed that quality is the key that defines one’s image and perception in the market,” says Amrinder.
In 2002, Bonn started a cookies manufacturing plant and became one of the first players in India to produce cookies on an industrial scale. Later, in 2004, it launched Bonn biscuits. “Seeing the need of healthy eating in our present day lifestyle, we also introduced the LA Americana Gourmet Range, which contains no added preservatives,” Amrinder says. “This way we also started targeting consumers looking for lifestyle food products with health benefits.”
Impressively, Bonn manages all logistics on its own. The company has its own fleet of 500 trucks, which travel approximately 40,000 kms across the country on a daily basis.
To attract a wider range of customers, the company uses social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to promote its products. “We also have a website in which we have a corner for recipes, kids zone and health tips, so that viewers and consumers can avail more benefits,” he says.
Another milestone for Bonn is its expansion to the South Indian market with Bonn Biscuits. According to Amrinder, there are a number of distinct qualities that gives Bonn an advantage over other players.
“A case in point is our extensive variety of breads that cater to customer economy, taste, flavour and indulgence as well as health imperatives. Furthermore, we have the ability to deliver quality food experiences to the Indian palate from the bakery unit directly to the consumer,” he says.
“This is down to our well-organised distribution structure with our very own fleet of trucks. We constantly drive innovation in food services. We are the only bread maker to have a line of preservative-free products,” says Amrinder.
Amrinder believes that staying connected with distributors on a daily basis helps ensure that the bread reaches consumers while its still fresh. Under Amrinder’s leadership, Bonn aims to expand pan-India by 2020 and become a Rs 1,000 crore brand. “We will go forward with our aggressive approach towards competitors and with the zeal to provide our customers with innovative and healthy products.”