The Young Thakrals: Transforming the Group with Learnings from
Experiments, Experience, and Expertise of Older Generation
Maharashtra’s Thakral Group, a leading manufacturer of Agarbatti (Incense sticks) has carved a
niche in the industry and presently has two generations at the helm. Older Generation Directors
of the Group- Hasmukh Thakral and Bharat Thakral have passed on the baton to young
directors- their daughter (Harsiddhi) and son (Samarth) respectively. In a candid conversation
with Incense Media, the young Thakrals reveals the success story of the group.
The cascading effects of the pandemic on human lives and businesses are
unprecedented, however, new experiments in the new normal also helped in
transforming the way Indian businesses were conducted. The incense industry leader
Thakral group also underwent huge transformation during the pandemic and Managing
Director Hasmukh Thakral gives all credit to his nephew Samarth Thakral (Son of
Bharat Thakral) and daughter Harsiddhi for transforming the Group.
“All of sudden we entered into a digital world, from filing Goods & Services Tax, Income
Tax, uploading of several returns to digital marketing and these would not have been
possible in absence of the younger generation. Samarth and Harsiddhi transformed the
Group by making it technology driven. They have been instrumental in creating a digital
ecosystem within the group. During the peak of the pandemic, we planned to host an
Online Conference with our stakeholders and these two young Thakrals conducted it
seamlessly to our surprise. And there is no looking back after that,” says Hasmukh
The structure of the organization clearly demarcates roles and responsibilities. The
Seniors – Hasmukh looks after Marketing, Consumer Connect, Legal, and Accounts &
Administration whereas Bharat Thakral takes care of Business Development, Logistics,
Finance and Human Relations. The Young Thakrals- Samarth is spearheading
production, Research & Development, and e-Commerce. As a trainee, Harsiddhi, a
graduate in Psychology and International Diploma in Human Rights, Mental Health and
Law, has been assisting all three in their respective areas of operations.
Learning from failures and Mistakes
As the seniors give all credit for the transformation to them, the Young Thakrals equally
reciprocate and say their experiments, experience, and expertise are key factors that
drive the growth of the Group. A graduate in Business Administration and postgraduate
in Entrepreneur Management Samarth Thakral says, “Over the years, my father (Bharat
Thakral) and uncle ( Hasmukh Thakral) did several experiments and we are learning
from their experiences. Now, when we launch a new product we have a wealth of
archives, we’ve had an extremely solid base to build up on. With this, we are able to
avoid failures. This is also a key factor in our growth story.”
“We need to connect to our products with passion and with an orientation for learning
from our elders. Take for example one customer of ours who is performing Puja
(Worship) and his/her agarbatti (Incense stick) does not satisfactorily glow, then the
reaction of the customer is highly emotive. The psychology behind religious products,
keeping the customers’ satisfaction in mind is what naturally encodes quality control,”
On Special Set of Skills to run a Family Business
Well-trained in Psychology, Harsiddhi elaborates on a special set of skills to run a family
business. She says apart from the wisdom of the older generations, it is very important
to have humility towards all including parents, employees, labourers and other
stakeholders. “There are people associated with the group for a very long time. Their
association with us goes beyond my age. Hence, we need humility towards them with
an orientation of learning. To me, humility and respect towards all is the most important
mindset we need to have to take the Group to the next level.
“We come from a religious and spiritual family and that is an added advantage when it
comes to bringing ethical practices and customer or people connect. Our approach
toward business is significantly influenced by values we have in our family, and it
always trickles down- there is harmony within all employees in their business values”
The Bamboo Boom
Hasmukh Thakral did not want to join the Agarbatti business. Hence, he initially
considered himself a reluctant entrant, but today he is amazed by the growth prospects
of the Indian Agarbatti industry and heaves a sigh of relief for being in the right business
at the very right time.
“The Indian Agarbatti industry has been on the fast growth track. It has tremendous
potential to grow further and the future is very bright. Connecting with the change and
fragrances is the most important factor to maintain momentum. Now bamboo-less sticks
are gaining popularity. A wide range of products is available in markets including
agarbatti, Dhoop and other aromatic items. Apart from bamboo-less, agarbatti with a
bamboo stick is still dominating the marketplaces. The government has banned the
import of sticks from China, Vietnam and other countries and this policy has boosted the
domestic supply of raw materials, especially bamboo,” expounds Hasmukh Thakral.
“Our dependency for raw materials on imports is over. Domestic supply has significantly
increased. In North-East people have taken up bamboo production in a big way. We
need more R&D in this segment. Technically bamboo is considered grass and to use it
in agarbattis, softness is required. In the next 2-3 years India will be able to produce
sufficient bamboo sticks to meet the growing demands of agarbatti with bamboo sticks,”
adds Senior Thakral.
According to him, customers’ choices will determine the popularity of products, be it with
bamboo or without it.
New Offerings and capacity building
Thakrals draw an interesting analogy and say our Agarbatti business is similar to our
film industry. Add a few songs, beat the villain and give a new twist- the movie is ready.
Likewise, in the agarbatti business, manufacturers go for new packaging/packing and
some experiments with fragrances, and a new product is ready. The plot is always the
same in the film and in the incense industry.
Thakrals run four manufacturing units with an average production capacity of 6,000 kg
per day. During festive seasons the demand for their popular products increases by 25-
50 per cent and 120 employees, experts in the production, supervising the operations
put extra effort and time along with workers to meet the surge in demand.
“Our production reaches its peak during the festive season. We reduce the production
of our slow-moving brand during this period and focus more on the most popular range.
April-May is usually off-season for us and production goes down by 25-50 per cent. This
is the period when we try to clear our inventory” elaborates Hasmukh Thakral
Innovations: The ‘Maha Big’
Robust R&D and innovations drive the growth of Thakral Group which was established
in 1951. ‘Safari Big Agarbatti is one of the most popular products from the Thakral
Group, the largest manufacturer of Incense in Central India. In Maharashtra and
Chattisgarh, their brand dominates the market.
The Young Thakrals drive the growth with innovations. “We have recently (Ganesh
Chaturthi) launched a 5-feet height Agarbatti known as ‘Maha Big.’ It burns for 15-20
hours. The product got a tremendous response during Ganesh Chaturthi. We have
moved a step ahead from ‘Safari Big’ with this innovative product which is best suited
for decoration and fragrances. It is widely used at Temples, big puja Pandaals, and
even at Night-long Jagrata (Devotional Song Programme). This is a new trend and we
are getting an amazing response to our newly launched product. Hopefully, its demand
would go up further as we enter into big celebrations during the festive seasons,” says
Samarth who looks after R&D and Innovations for the Group.
Thakral Group has carved a niche in the market and apart from Central India, its
products are gaining popularity in Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Telangana.
The Thakrals have struck a beautiful balance between their traditional roots and a quest
for moving with the times. The company is a unique blend of the sweetness of the older
generation and a dash of spice by the younger ones. With support from the Senior
Thakrals, the Young Thakrals are all set to take the Group to a new high.
Thakral's Booth at one of the Incense Media's Agarbatti & Perfume Exhibitions in Mumbai