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May 1, 2024

Godrej Group’s 127-Year Journey: From Swadeshi Origins to Family Division

Godrej Group: A 127-Year Journey Through Time

The Godrej Group, a sprawling conglomerate with interests ranging from real estate to consumer products, is poised for a historic division after a family settlement agreement. The move, agreed upon by the family members steering the 127-year-old business, involves untangling cross-holdings and dividing businesses and assets between patriarch Adi Godrej and his cousin Jamshyd Godrej.

In a joint statement released by the group’s listed companies, it was revealed that Adi, Nadir, Jamshyd Godrej, and Smita Godrej Crishna, heads of their respective family branches, have reached consensus on a family settlement agreement (FSA) and a brand & non-compete agreement.

Godrej Group’s Legacy: From Locks to Global Empire

The roots of the Godrej Group trace back to 1897 when Ardeshir Godrej, a visionary entrepreneur, pioneered the manufacturing of indigenous locks. At a time when India was under British colonial rule, Godrej’s decision to produce locally-made locks marked a significant step towards self-reliance. Despite initial challenges, including the refusal of British-owned newspapers to carry advertisements for his locks, Godrej persevered. By 1908, the company had patented the world’s first springless locks, followed by the launch of the world’s first vegetable oil soap, Chavi.

Swadeshi Movement and Godrej’s Contribution

With ‘Swadeshi’ as its early motto, the Godrej Group garnered support from freedom fighters and prominent figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Annie Besant, and Rabindranath Tagore. Gandhi, in a letter to a competitor, expressed his high regard for the Godrej Group and its commitment to Swadeshi principles.

The company diversified its offerings to include furniture, steel almirahs with in-built safes, and even ballot boxes for India’s first general elections, further solidifying its place in the nation’s history.

Diversification and Social Responsibility

In 1990, the Godrej Group expanded into property and real estate with the establishment of Godrej Properties, followed by the incorporation of Godrej Agrovet in 1991. Over the years, the conglomerate has not only achieved financial success but also demonstrated a strong commitment to social responsibility through its Good & Green strategy. Approximately 23% of the promoter holding is invested in trusts supporting environmental, health, and education initiatives.

The Division: Looking Forward

Under the terms of the FSA, the Godrej Industries Group (GIG) will be chaired by Nadir Godrej, with Adi Godrej as chairman emeritus. Pirojsha Godrej, son of Adi Godrej, is set to assume the role of executive vice chairperson of GIG. On the other hand, Jamshyd Godrej will lead Godrej Enterprises Group (GEG), with Nyrika Holkar as executive director.

Both Adi Godrej and Jamshyd Godrej, pillars of the conglomerate, have been recognized with the Padma Bhushan for their contributions to India’s industries.

As the Godrej Group embarks on this new chapter in its illustrious history, its legacy of innovation, social responsibility, and commitment to excellence will continue to guide its journey forward.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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