City-based rose firm is world's largest producer
Ramakrishna Karuturi who hails from the garden city of Bangalore, today is the largest rose producer in the world.
A mechanical engineer from Bangalore University, Ramakrishna Karuturi returned after pursuing a business degree in Ohio to join the family business in cables. But in 1996, seeing a business opportunity in floriculture, the entrepreneur set up two greenhouses on 3.2 hectares of land on the outskirts of the city and began to export the flowers grown.
The company was initially set up as Karuturi Floritech in Doddaballapur, near Bangalore with an annual capacity to process 6 to 8 million premium cut roses at its state-of-the-art facilities. Today Karuturi Global Limited is engaged in three businesses: floriculture, gherkins and information technology. The Deccan Herald had earlier written about Karuturi in 2002, and it was obvious then, that this was a man with a mission and the company was all set to go places.
In a span of seven years, Ramakrishna has risen to the top of the rose cultivating business, becoming the world’s largest cultivator of the flowers. “After acquiring the Kenyan company Sher Agencies, we now have 5.5 per cent of the rose business globally,” adds he. According to Ramakrishna, Karuturi Networks acquired the 188-hectare, Kenya-based Dutch rose farm Sher Agencies for US$ 65 million in 2007 to take on global competition. He also simultaneously build 62 hectares in Ethiopia to expand his operations. Today Karuturi has 298 hectares of rose farms in Bangalore, Kenya and Ethiopia put together.
The 10 hectares under cultivation in Bangalore was where he began initially. “Bangalore also offers the perfect logistics required for post harvest handling and receives focused government thrust to propel the sectors sustained growth,” says Karuturi.
A 50 hectare rose farm on the outskirts of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia was set up initially because Ethiopia offered excellent competitive advantages in the growing and export of roses. The climate is conducive to rose growing coupled with abundant and cheap labour and freight benefits, besides faster access to European markets made it an ideal investment decision. So in 2007-2008 Karuturi ramped up its operations in Ethiopia to another 100 hectares.
Over time the company’s products are now being exported to Holland, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Bahrain, Muscat, Dubai, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Brunei and North America and are also consumed in India. The company has also grown fast as Karuturi Global Limited’s revenue in 2004 was Rs 5.39 crore which has grown to Rs 440.35 crore in 2008-09. Karuturi also earned a net profit of Rs 124.63 crore in 2008-09, an increase of 28 per cent.
Karuturi said in his speech to shareholders, “It has been a remarkable year of growth and expansion for your company. The fragrance of success has been all encompassing, touching every aspect of our business.” For 2009 Karuturi has plans to acquire an additional 385 hectares making 25 hectares operational in 2009 and the rest by years 20011-12.
But Karuturi has not forgotten his roots and believes there is huge potential in India waiting to be tapped. He has opened his first boutique store at the New Bangalore airport and plans to open 50 such outlets across the length and breadth of India. He has other plans too as Karuturi talked about his future growth plans, “We will start growing rice, cereals, sugarcane and Palm-oil too as part of our agri expansion programme in Ethiopia.”