Former Nakumatt executive Thiagarajan Ramamurthy has taken over from Vimal Shah as Bidco Africa Group CEO, marking the first time that the Shahs that own the consumer goods manufacturer is ceding leadership to a non-family member.
Mr Ramamurthy’s entry completes Bidco’s plan to inject professionalism into the business founded 32 years ago. Vimal’s father and founder of the company, Bhimji Depar Shah, has been serving as chairman of the company, with his sons Vimal as CEO and Tarun as a director.
Bidco said that Vimal will take over as company chairman, a post his father Bhimji has held since inception in 1985.
The management changes come ahead of the impending opening of a Sh4 billion beverage plant in Thika later this year — a move that is expected to put the firm in direct competition with soft drinks giants Coca Cola and Del Monte in soda, water and juice production.
The soft drinks’ factory, which is being funded by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), includes a production and bottling facility for non-carbonated still drinks, carbonated soft drinks and water.
The upcoming soft drinks plant is part of a Sh20 billion expansion blueprint that seeks to expand Bidco’s presence in the consumer goods market and grow the business four-fold from the present $500 million (Sh50.5 billion) annual turnover.
On Monday, Vimal said ceding control to Mr Ramamurthy was aimed at helping the family concentrate in driving the growth strategy of a company that is expected to become a billion-dollar business with interests in diverse manufacturing lines across Africa.
Mr Ramamurthy is credited with spearheading retail chain Nakumatt’s expansion and entry into regional markets in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.
The ex-Nakumatt executive joins Chris Diaz, Bidco’s group sales and marketing director, who recently quit Kenya Airways where he held a similar position.
Vimal said the new team would be tasked with growing Bidco’s market niche while allowing the Shah family to plan on how to bring in new products on board and venture into new markets across Africa without having to worry about operations.
Vimal had told the Business Daily in an earlier interview that the family had initially found it difficult to access loans from local banks as none of the financial institutions believed in the business.
“The idea was often noted as a good one, but the banks could not trust us with their money. but we started small and aimed high,” said Vimal.