Business Today

100 Years Young

Print Edition: July 10, 2011

Two World Wars, the Great Depression, India's independence struggle, the Hindu rate of growth, the licence-permit raj, controls on foreign exchange and expansion, and the reforms of the 1990s: a handful of Indian companies have seen it all, and adapted along the way to do well. India has around three dozen century-old companies that are listed and still actively traded. Of these we have selected a dozen that have done especially well at responding to change. "Response to change is the first condition for survival in business," says Dwijendra Tripathi, a former IIM professor who authored The Oxford History of Indian Business. A hundred years is a long period. Dive into the exciting journey of these intrepid survivors.

1788: Breen & Co founded; to become Jessop in 1820
1838: The Times of India launched

1898: Calcutta becomes first city in India to get electricity

1902: Shalimar Paints sets up first paint factory in SE Asia

1902: Tatas open first hotel, Taj Mahal Palace

1910: Advent of electricity helps Britannia biscuits mechanise operations

1911: Shift of India's capital to Delhi announced; ITC gets stalls to advertise at Durbar

1919: Birlas defy Yule and other Scots to get into jute manufacture, WWI fuels boom

1926: Kirloskar makes first diesel engine in India

1929: TVS bags General Motors' dealership

1931: CESC builds tunnel under river Hoogly

1940: For the first time, The Times of India publishes news items

1945: Britannia sales surge, fuelled by contract to supply biscuits to Allied troops

1951: R.D. Birla acquires control of Century Textiles

1953: Bengal Chamber of Commerce completes a 100 years

1958: Godrej & Boyce makes the fi rst Indian refrigerator, in collaboration with GE

1969: Managing Agency system abolished

1975: ITC makes fi rst diversification, into hotels

1988: Jessop celebrates 200 years of existence

1998: Burman family hands over Dabur management to professionals

2007: Tata Steel acquires Corus

Century-old companies but still young
1.Bennett, Coleman & Co: Just in times
2.Britannia: Not by bread alone
3.Century Textiles & Industries: Century's century
4.CESC: Power to the people
5.Dabur: Growth tonic
6.Godrej & Boyce: Safe and sound
7.Indian Hotels: Halls of fame
8.ITC: Imperial touch
9.Kirloskar Brothers: Pump and Show
10.Shalimar Paints: Paintmaker iconic
11.Tata Steel: Nerves of steel
12.TVS: Cruise control
13.The 100-year old banks
14.Jessop & Company: Grandpa of them all
15.Web exclusive: Bombay Dyeing reinventing itself
16.Web exclusive: DCM hopes to thrive again
17..The others

ACKNOWLEDGMENT We thank and acknowledge the following for access to their records and permission to use images from their archives and publications: Allahabad Bank; Andrew Yule; Bank of Baroda; Britannia; Bennett, Coleman & Co; CESC, Century Textiles; Dabur; Godrej Archives; Indian Hotels; ITC; Jessop; Kirloskar; Saregama; Shalimar Paints; Tata Steel; TVS & Sons; The Statesman.

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