Meet the youngest chairman of Dabur India: Amit Burman

Dabur scion Amit Burman, who has been at the helm of disruption in the family business, is appointed as its chairman, as the next generation takes the reins at one of the nation's oldest consumer goods companies.

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Thinking out of the box and creating a category where nobody thought of has been the key differentiator for Amit Burman, who recently replaced Dr Anand C Burman, as chairman of Dabur India. Burman, who had been serving as Vice Chairman of the company, had spearheaded Dabur's foray into the packaged foods business with the launch of packaged fruit juices under the brand Real. The 50-year-old, a fifth-generation member of the founder family, is the youngest chairman at the Rs 8,500 crore-plus Dabur India. Son of Late GC Burman, he succeeds Anand Burman who has stepped down as director and chairman after a 12-year tenure.

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Burman had established Dabur Foods as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dabur and took on the responsibilities as the CEO of this venture. He had stepped down as the CEO of Dabur Foods when the company was merged into Dabur India in July 2007, and was then appointed the Vice Chairman of Dabur India. He started his career at Dabur's Industrial Engineering Department where he was responsible for induction of machinery, method improvements, manpower reduction and improving product packaging.

Outside Dabur too, Burman has successfully identified and ventured into key growth sectors that include food retailing, with a chain of quick service and fine dining restaurants and food courts, wine distribution, insurance and sports. His F&B retail venture by the name of Lite Bite Foods has forged a strategic alliance to manage Food Courts on behalf of PVR Cinemas. In addition, Lite Bite also runs Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) and casual dining outlets as well as manages entire food courts in a wide range of locations including malls, office complexes, high streets, highway locations, hospitals, metros and airports. Incepted in 2001 as a Subway franchisee, Lite Bite Foods today has a network of over 100 restaurants across the globe. The brand offerings consist of Punjab Grill, Street Foods of India, Zambar, Asia Seven, Fresc Co, Pino's, Baker street and the newly launched The Artful Baker. Moreover, it also runs franchise for Burger King, KFC and Pizza Hut.

In an earlier interview with Entrepreneur India, Burman said, "In the coming years, we have to walk a tight rope in terms of balancing high input costs while generating high revenues in an otherwise low growth economy. We have to improvise sales and marketing strategies to attract new customers and simultaneously indulge in doing smart menu engineering, efficient use of real estate, smart hiring, strict F&B controls to cushion the high input costs."

All traditional dishes, according to him, can now mostly be enjoyed only in restaurants as a result of which restaurants create a feeling of déjà vu and earn the loyalty of their patrons. Another interesting offshoot, Burman observed, is the growth of local cuisine at the national level – which is now a part of a lot of restaurant chains. The diaspora of the captive consumer is changing, he noted.

"As a corporate entity, we understand franchising and what it means for the company. But in India, the franchisee always feels they can do better. They examine your organization to check if you have an experience of over 14 years and with all the processes being documented. So, it's been a very good ride as of now on the franchising front," Burman said.

Burman has been honoured with many prestigious awards and recognition including the Columbia SABA Young Leader Award 2008 by Columbia Business School's South Asia Business Association (SABA). He holds an MBA degree from the University of Cambridge, an MSC degree in Industrial Engineering from Columbia University, USA and a BSC degree in Industrial Engineering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, USA.

Despite definite signs of slowdown in the industry, Dabur has managed to report strong growth across its key businesses. Burman attributes this growth to three factors — expansion of their rural footprint, investment in key brands and focus on e-commerce. Dabur has now identified eight power brands including Vatika shampoo, Red toothpaste, Real juice and Amla hair oil and is investing disproportionately to push them. The brand has also increased its focus on healthcare and believes the sector will be the key driver of growth.

According to a media report, in the Rs 1,200-crore organised honey market, Dabur Honey's share dropped to almost 40 per cent a year after Patanjali's entry from about 60 per cent three years ago. It has since recovered to around 54 per cent now. In chyawanprash, Dabur's share, which had slipped to 58 per cent in 2016, has returned to over 60 per cent.

(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)