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DEATH OF AN ICONIC BRAND?

SAD BUT TRUE

DEATH OF AN ICONIC BRAND?

I felt very sad on reading this news item a few days ago. Whenever I used to go to Mumbai I used to enjoy the baked biscuits sweet smell wafting across the railway track while passing through Vile Parle. I have nostalgic memories of a long-ago visit to the factory too. I have taught and discussed Case Study of Parle in my BBA/MBA classes in Brand Management and Advertising Management in a few colleges.

Parle G and Parle Monaco are still my favourite brands since my childhood. Sad!!

Here is the news item:

The way the cookie crumbles  ….No Parle in Vile Parle now

Namrata Singh & Mayur Shetty…..TOI  Jul 27, 2016

Mumbai: You must be missing the whiff of baked biscuits that used to waft through the air as your train crossed Vile Parle station. The ubiquitous Parle-G biscuits, the largest selling biscuit brand in the world, aren’t being rolled out from the Vile Parle plant following the decision by the owners–the Vijay Chauhan family–to shutter the unit after nearly 90 years.”Production at the time of closure was negligible. It didn’t make commercial sense to keep it running,” said Arup Chauhan, Parle Products executive director.

The Rs 10,000-crore Parle Products, which has manufacturing units across India that make Parle-G and other biscuit and candy brands, halted production at the local factory two months ago following a reduction in production capacity over the last few years.

At the time of the shutdown of the Parle plant, which at its peak produced the largest volume of biscuits, there were around 300 workers, who have all taken VRS. Chauhan described the VRS process as “smooth”.

Spread across about 10 acres, the factory houses Parle Products’ HQ. Although Chauhan did not divulge details, the closely held Parle Products, named after the western suburb, is likely to retain the land, which sits on a prime location amid a host of residential complexes, for development. According to realty experts, the going rate for residences in Vile Parle is between Rs 25,000 and Rs 28,000 a square foot.

Set up in 1929, the Vile Parle factory used to first manufacture just candies. Sugar boiled candies initially came in glass jars and later wrapped in translucent plastic wrappers and were sold across `kirana‘ stores under the Parle brand. The factory began biscuit production in 1939. Parle Products is the                       largest biscuit maker and among the leading food players in the country. It competes with rivals like Britannia Industries and ITC. According to the company’s website, Parle Products has a 40% share of the total biscuit market and a 15% share of the total confectionary market in India.

Other popular brands of biscuits under Parle include Monaco, Hide & Seek, Krack Jack and Milano. Among sweets, Mango Bite and Melody are the popular candies. Given the changing consumption patterns, Parle has forayed into wafers and `namkeen’ manufacturing.

The Vile Parle unit has often thrown open its doors to neighbouring schoolchildren to help them learn about biscuit and candy-making processes. This was long before KidZania, an edutainment theme park for children, came calling in Ghatkopar.

Here are a few random comments from other readers of the news item:

Jagvir Singh : When I was working in Mumbai, while travelling in the fully packed train, in some occasions it was not possible to see outside through the windows. In that time Yes, whiff of baked biscuits that used to waft through the air was the only way to realize that the train crossed Vile Parle station.

Shishir Patil :  Land, residential project, lure of big bucks….. All major manufactures have done this…. L&T, RAYMOND, BAYER, NOW PARLE…..

Abhijit: The factory was set up at Parle because it was not part of Mumbai. It was a far away suburb. Now it makes more business sense to sell that land, make money and set up factory at some other remote location.

Let me hope and pray that this brand does not die!!  It doesn’t deserve to die!

J S BROCA  29TH JULY 2016

 

On Raghuram Rajan

MY LETTER PUBLISHED IN THE LATEST ISSUE OF BUSINESS TODAY DATED JULY 31ST 2016

“Rexit”: A Tough Job for the Government

This refers to your well presented cover story on the Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan’s proposed exit from office (Rexit) once his term ends in September 2016 (Unfinished Agenda, July 17). Rajan’s exit proposal is being widely discussed in the country and has caught the imagination of the media and the masses. And the media coverage has made it a prestige issue for both the government and Rajan alike. The opposition parties are already pointing fingers at the government but that is understandable as they have their own axe to grind. All said and done, Rajan has done his job quite expertly so far, and his replacement will have a tough job in extracting the country and its economy from the morass it is in due to a few national and international issues. Taking his unfinished agenda of reforms to its logical conclusion should now be the top priority cutting across all party lines. Rajan has, indeed, left his imprint on policy making and let us hope whoever follows him does a good job.

J.S. Broca, New Delhi, 14TH JULY 2016