The hands that once shaped laddoos are now shaping the
academic careers of thousands of students. The Lovely group, which
ruled in Punjab as the undisputed makers of the coveted
celebratory sweet for decades, is now making a big name in the
Spread over a sprawling 600 acre of land 150 km from Chandigarh,
the Lovely Professional University (LPU), Punjab's first private
university set up in 2005, is now fashioning the career of over
In a journey from rags to riches, the Mittal family that once
struggled to manage one day's meal has now emerged as a leading
educationist and a top, multimillion rupee business name in
Lovely group started its journey in 1961 with a meagre investment
of Rs.500 in a sweets shop from a 15 by 16 feet rented room in the
Jalandhar cantonment. Baldev Raj Mittal started the business.
After his death in 2004, his second generation is carrying on with
the family business.
Their annual turnover now runs into millions of rupees and they
now boast of a university, automobile dealerships and a modern
sweets shop in the busy Nakodar Road market here.
"Our father's business mantra was based on smaller margins and
bulk orders. We are still following the same philosophy. Loyalty
and customers' satisfaction are foremost priorities for us,"
Ramesh Mittal, 54, chairman of Lovely group, told IANS.
He added: "Our father had done a lot of hard work and we had seen
many difficult days in life. My father started working at 4 a.m.
and was never free before 10 p.m. There were days when we had to
manage with only one meal in the whole day."
Till 1986, the Mittals operated from their small sweets shop in
the cantonment area.
"Our sweet business was growing at rapid pace. Our ladoos were
very famous and we were getting orders from all over the country.
So we decided to open a big shop in the main market in early 1980s
but that idea failed. Then again we started our shop in the
Nakodar market in 1986 and this attempt proved fruitful," stated
Nearly 700 employees are engaged in the Lovely Sweet Shop. They
are all set to open another sweets shop in the same market in the
Naresh Mittal, 50, vice chairman of Lovely group, told IANS: "We
are offering the maximum varieties of Indian sweets under one roof
in the whole world. We have a very loyal clientele who have been
buying sweets from us for the last many years."
Naresh said that their clients include top corporate houses,
Bollywood personalities and senior Indian Army officers. "Every
year we send sweets to the Deol family in Mumbai and sugar-free
sweets to (Lord) Swraj Paul in London," he said.
Their sweet success spurred them on to enter the automobile sector
in the early 1990s.
"In 1991, we opened our first dealership of Bajaj automobiles, but
it was an arduous journey. There was a lot of retaliation and
people doubted our potential. They said how can 'halwais' (sweet
makers) run an automobile dealership," Ashok Mittal, 46,
chancellor of LPU, told IANS.
"But we never lost heart and got an appointment with Rahul Bajaj.
We gave him a presentation and convinced him. Then within the next
two years, we were among the top three Bajaj dealers of this
region. The same thing happened when we went to apply for the
Maruti dealership in 1996. But somehow we managed to get it and it
was also an instant hit," stated Ashok Mittal.
At present, Lovely group has Bajaj dealerships in Jalandhar,
Kapurthala and Phagwara and Maruti dealerships in Jalandhar and
Lovely group then decided to step into the education sector.
"Our sweets and automobile business were running very
successfully, but my father wanted to do something for society. We
explored various options of opening a charitable hospital or a
dharamshala (public house) but finally decided to step into the
education sector," said Ashok.
"In 2001 we started our institution, offering BBA, BCA, MBA and
MCA courses. But we realised that there were many glitches in the
education sector and so we decided to establish our own
university. In 2003 we started working in the direction and in
2005 we finally got approval from the Punjab government," said
LPU is offering over 150 courses and more than 250 foreign
students from 16 countries are studying there.
The second generation of Baldev Raj Mittal is more ambitious and
is planning to diversify the family business.
Aman Mittal, grandson of Baldev, told IANS: "We are planning to
diversify our business and venture into many other areas that
would be new in this region. But we cannot divulge much about this
at the moment."
(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)