Britannia settles ‘Tiger’ brand tangle with US firm

Kolkata, Aug 31 ( Biscuit major Britannia Industries Ltd has settled legal issues with Kraft Inc, US, over using the ‘Tiger’ brand, a top company official said here Monday.

“We have successfully settled all those issues. Britannia will have the right to use ‘Tiger’ brand in India, Britannia will also have the right to use ‘Tiger’ brand anywhere in the world,” company chairman Nusli N. Wadia said in his address to the shareholders at the annual general meeting.

“Kraft will use another ‘Tiger’, not the one we are using in the country, where it is operating and where it wishes to operate. That completes the settlement. Ultimately, ‘Tiger’ is a generic term. Kraft is free to develop its own ‘Tiger’ brand,” Wadia said.

The Nusli Wadia-led Britannia was embroiled in a bitter intellectual property right (IPR) violation litigation with its partner Groupe Danone after the Indian company charged the French dairy major with using its Tiger trademark – a key intellectual property – in the overseas market without prior consent.

The two companies moved court for arbitration in 2007 in Singapore and Malaysia.

Groupe Danone sold its biscuit business to Kraft Inc in December 2007.

Talking about its bread arm Daily Bread Gourmet Foods (India) Pvt Ltd, he said the wing has not performed as per the company’s expectations.

“We are now reinventing the company. We will be looking at city-wise bread business,” he said.

It closed its bread operations in Hyderabad and Delhi in December 2008 with a view to growing its business in Bangalore, where the brand has been available for six years.

“It is our clear intention to grow our Daily Bread business in India,” he said.

Wadia said the Middle-East business has not performed well, primarily because of huge surge in raw material prices.

“We have a lot of hope for Middle-East business. Surge in flour, sugar and oil prices impacted us adversely in the Middle-East. We are consolidating our business in the Middle-East, and currently we will be concentrating on Oman,” he said.

Apprehending that the “current year will be a tough one”, Wadia said poor monsoon would affect input prices of the company’s products.

“But we are quite clear that we will drive our cost down and protect our margin,” he added.

The profit after tax in 2008-09 fiscal was Rs.1,804 million.

“Last year, our topline has grown 20 percent despite an all-round increase in input prices and our power brand also grew by 20 percent. So it was a good year despite the volatility in prices.

“Our bread, cake and rusks business has grown three times in the last three years and is now worth Rs.380 crore,” he said.