How Cafe Coffee Day Siddhartha grew the business

Chennai: Ever entered Cafe Coffee Day? The place has a laid-back air, letting people be at ease, while providing them space to carry out anything and everything they would want to do. Such is the business model that VG Siddhartha created, having incorporated Coffee Day Global Ltd in 1993.

Through calculative approach and meticulous focus on investing at the right place at the right time, Siddhartha had come a long way from being known as the son-in-law of former Karnataka Chief Minister, S M Krishna.

His measures have provided jobs to not one, not two but thousands of aspiring youngsters that include Indians and foreigners and sure enough, his parting will be mourned by them.

Those close to him say they have enjoyed a ‘great relationship’ with him, with many more who followed him with sincerity, looking at his ethics, deeply miss their idol.

Some see him as a good businessman, others see him as an opportunist who capitalised on the market. A few more, however, see him as a person who had the foresight to see things take shape several years down the line and take risks, calculative of course, and make it big. As the saying goes, with big risks come big rewards.

This especially shone through when he invested Rs 44 crore in 2000, seven years after founding CCD, in Mindtree Limited. He then went on to venture into the hospitality business, private equity industry and many more.

His last letter, the authenticity of which is still under scrutiny(!), speaks about the pressure he endured by the doings of an Income-Tax official, from a shareholder and the disappointment he has in not being able to create the right profitable business model.

But it also speaks about the man he is – full of honesty. Not only did he take full claim for the misfortunes that had befallen the firm and the board, he also listed out the properties and their value, for them to take care of something he could not come to terms with and eventually complete.

He did not want anybody to face the same heat he had endured and even his final bid of goodbye was written with words chosen to reflect his mind and possibly his heart.

Having built an empire that ran on coffee, serving tonnes and tonnes of the golden brown drink over the years, it is unfortunate that he chose to end his life on running water. But he was and remains an unpredictable man even after his passing.

His achievements
* Siddhartha’s total assets are valued at over Rs 10,500 crore and the CCD brand is valued at near Rs 8,000 crore.

* CCD has over 1,600 cafes spread in 209 cities/towns of India and attract close to 50,000 visitors a week. It has more than 54,000 vending machines and 500 express stores.

* Siddhartha’s family owns 12,000 acres (4,047 ha) of coffee plantations that employs over 3,000 people. The silver oak trees and timber assets in the plantation are valued at another Rs 2,300 crore, while the plantation itself is valued at Rs 2,000 crore. The family owns several other businesses and properties worth thousands of crore.

Praveen Kumar S