Hands-on Adi passes on the Godrej baton

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MUMBAI: Adi Godrej is stepping down from the board of Godrej Industries — both as chairman and director — which makes it the last of the listed firms of the Rs 32,000-crore Godrej Group where the 79-year-old patriarch has passed on the baton to his successors.
Godrej Industries said these changes to its board will be effective October 1. His younger brother, Nadir Godrej, who is managing director of Godrej Industries, will take over as CMD of the company. Godrej Industries is the holding company, which has interests in consumer goods, agriculture, real estate, chemicals and financial services, other than incubating new businesses.
ABG, as Adi Burjorji Godrej is known, will, however, continue as chairman of the 124-year-old diversified Godrej Group and chairman emeritus of Godrej Industries.

Over the decades, ABG has nurtured the growth of these companies with his hands-on leadership style, and has also brought in top-notch professional talent to compete with multinational rivals. Under his leadership, the soaps business of Godrej has been a formidable competitor to market leader Hindustan Unilever (HUL).
Godrej Group is a conglomeration of different legal entities, some of which are listed on the stock exchanges. It is controlled by the Godrej family, with Adi Godrej’s cousin Jamshyd Godrej heading Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company. The part of the Group which was so far managed by Adi Godrej (Godrej Industries, Godrej Consumer Products, Godrej Properties and Godrej Agrovet) has gradually passed on to the next generation of leaders. The part of the group which was overseen directly by ABG is now over Rs 20,000-crore combined.
At a young age of 21, when Adi Godrej had taken over the reins of the erstwhile Godrej Soaps (now GCPL), as MD in 1963, the turnover was a little over Rs 2 crore. Under his leadership, where new marketing skills and strategies were deployed, the turnover of the company shot up to nearly Rs 8 crore in 1967, a growth described as “a watershed in its history” in the book on Godrej’s hundred years by B K Karanjia. By 1995, Godrej Soaps’ turnover was at a striking distance of Rs 600 crore.
Under ABG, the group has also gained broader global insights through short-term tie-ups with MNCs like Procter & Gamble, Sara Lee and Pilsbury, among others. ABG’s leadership style was different from his predecessors and mentors, although the core purpose was strictly adhered to. If pre-Independence the Godrej Group was known for its swadeshi push, ABG looked at MNC rivals like HUL as customers to whom the group supplied raw materials for making soap.
In 2017, Godrej had stepped down from the board of Godrej Properties as well, while at Godrej Agrovet, the board is chaired by Nadir Godrej. His son, Pirojsha Godrej heads Godrej Properties.
“It has been a privilege to serve Godrej Industries for over four decades, during which we have delivered strong results and transformed our company. I am grateful to our board for their support and guidance; to all our team members whose passion, commitment and hard work has driven our success; and to all our customers, business partners, shareholders, investors, and communities, for their continued partnership. I am very confident that our best years are ahead of us, and I look forward to Nadir and our team achieving our exciting aspirations,” said Godrej.
Last week, Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL) announced that effective September 30, 2021, Adi Godrej will step down from the board and will continue to be chairman emeritus. His daughter Nisaba Godrej had already taken over the leadership as chairperson of the single largest company (Rs 11,000 crore turnover) in the group.

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