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Broadways Bread: How Billionaire Brothers From Thika Built Popular Bread Company

  • Broadways bread was founded by the late Sobhagchand Shah and Ratilal Shah.
  • The company started as a small bakery in Thika town in 1958.

Broadways, a bakery that started as a small venture in Thika town, Kiambu County, in 1958, has not only withstood the test of time but has also emerged as one of Kenya’s top bakeries.

Founded by the late Sobhagchand Shah and Ratilal Shah, Broadways has experienced remarkable growth over the years, expanding its production capacity and diversifying into other businesses.

In this article, WoK takes a look at the evolution of  the family owned business that generates billions in revenue annually.

From Humble Beginnings to a Bakery Powerhouse

Since its inception, Broadways has transformed from a modest one-deck oven bakery into a thriving industrial bakery that manufactures renowned brands like Broadways and New Seneta.

The bakery’s founders, Sobhagchand and Ratilal Shah, laid the foundation for its success, establishing a strong foothold in the market.

The Visionary Shah Family Behind Broadways’ Phenomenal Success

The bakery owes its success to the vision and entrepreneurial acumen of the billionaire Shah family. The company was founded by brothers Sobhagchand Shah and Ratilal Shah in 1958, and their legacy is carried forward by the second generation, including Bimal Shah, Bejul Shah, and Hiten Shah.

These astute business leaders have steered Broadways through decades of growth, expanding its production capacity, diversifying its product range, and establishing a strong distribution network.

Their strategic decisions, commitment to innovation, and relentless pursuit of excellence have propelled Broadways to become one of Kenya’s leading industrial bakeries, solidifying the Shah family’s status as prominent billionaires in the country’s business landscape.

The Unga Connection

In 1968, Broadways entered into a distribution partnership with Unga Ltd, previously known as Elliots Bread.

This collaboration played a pivotal role in Broadways’ growth, providing them with valuable exposure and a robust distribution network.

However, the partnership concluded in 1977, leading the Shah brothers to establish their independent business.

Broadways’ Journey of Expanding Horizons

With their sights set on growth, the Shah brothers purchased four acres of land and secured a Ksh 15 million loan from Barclays Bank to build a factory.

The bakery’s production capacity steadily increased, from 45,000 loaves initially to 70,000 loaves in 1979 with the acquisition of the fully automated Baker Berkins bread plant.

Subsequently, Broadways acquired the Spooner Plant in 1981 and installed the Werner & Pfleiderer Plant in 1985, elevating their production capacity further.

Broadways Transfers to the Second Generation

In a momentous transition, the management baton was passed to the second generation of the Shah family in the year 2000. Bimal Shah, along with his cousins Bejul Shah and Hiten Shah, took over the reins of the company.

Their leadership and vision have played a crucial role in shaping Broadways’ continued success and growth.

Business Ventures

Recognizing the importance of diversification, Broadways ventured into other businesses to create alternative revenue streams. Bakex Millers Limited, a wheat flour miller, was established in the 1980s and operates alongside the bakery.

Additionally, the family-owned Albizzia Downs Estate Limited engages in real estate development and has undertaken significant land sales to entities such as Safaricom and the Oshwal Community.

Response to Rising Costs and Demand

The bakery industry faces numerous challenges, including increasing costs of raw materials such as cooking oil, fuel, wheat, and packaging. Broadways has had to adjust its pricing due to these factors, with bread prices witnessing an upsurge.

Despite the challenges, the company has successfully managed to meet the rising demand by optimizing production and distribution processes.

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