Hatching A Business

Away from the limelight, Anuradha Desai is expanding her poultry empire.
 Alokesh Bhattacharyya       Print Edition: September 27, 2015
Egging on: Anuradha Desai
Egging on: Anuradha Desai (Photo: Mandar Deodhar)

Venkateshwara Hatcheries shot to fame - or infamy, depending on how you look at it - in November 2010, when it bought English Premier League football team Blackburn Rovers. One of only five teams to have ever won the Premier League, Blackburn was quickly relegated from the League after the deal following poor performance. Manager after manager was sacked, and Venky's got a reputation of being poor managers with abysmal understanding of football.

While that may or may not be off the mark, what is certain is that Venkateshwara Hatcheries sure understands its core business - poultry and all else associated with it. And much of that credit would go to the group's Chairperson, Anuradha Desai.

Desai, a lawyer by education, took over the empire that was started by her father, the late B.V. Rao, after his death in 1996. "There are some business leaders who keep doing their work without coming too much into the limelight," says Sachin Tayal, MD at Protiviti Consulting. "Desai is one of them." Tayal says the group has done both backward and forward integration, making it an integrated poultry company. "That is why it has achieved success." Over the years, she has added several related activities - such as eggs, egg powder, poultry feed, animal feed and vaccines.

The group has one listed company Venky's, which supplies chicken to groups like KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, etc. It also has its small chain of quick service restaurants called Venky's XPRS in South and West India. The company's revenues in 2014/15, at Rs 1,730.81 crore, was stagnant compared to 2013/14, and profits dipped to Rs 18.7 crore from Rs 34 crore.

In her address to shareholders in the company's annual report, Desai says Venky's completed capacity expansion of poultry and poultry products segment, and set up a soya seeds processing plant during 2014/15. She adds that she expects performance to be better in 2015/16. Putting together other companies in the group - Venkateshwara Hatcheries Pvt Ltd, VenkyS (India) Ltd, Venco Research & Breeding Farm Pvt Ltd, Uttara Foods & Feeds Pvt Ltd, Eastern Hatcheries Pvt Ltd, Bala Industries & Entertainment Pvt Ltd - revenues grew 15.8 per cent to Rs 6,573.67 crore in 2013/14, according to data from Registrar of Companies. Total profit was Rs 202.87 crore.

FOR FULL COVERAGE: http://www.businesstoday.in/powerful-businesswomen/2015/

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