In memoriam: Café Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha, the coffee king of India

A lament for VG Siddhartha

His passing should make us all step back and remind ourselves of what is important. Our time on this planet is temporary enough. To cut it short is indeed the answer for some but equally it is the worst kind of tragedy. Rest in peace you good, noble and brave man VG Siddhartha.
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INDIA. Tributes online, in writing, and in person have been paid to VG Siddhartha, the well-known founder of India’s biggest coffee chain, Café Coffee Day.

He went missing on Monday this week and, tragically, his body was later found in the Nethravati River in Karnataka.

Siddhartha – known as the coffee king of India – was widely lauded for his business acumen following the success he had with Café Coffee Day, which he launched in Bengaluru in 1996.

Here follows a tribute from The Moodie Davitt Report’s India columnist, #Miles2Go Consulting Services Founder Shriram Sanjeevi, who worked closely with VG Siddhartha.

“I had the luck, privilege and honour to work with Café Coffee Day for two years under the leadership of VG Siddhartha. Having worked with Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), where I was responsible for conceptualising, designing, leasing and managing all the retail areas at India’s first private gateway, I had offers from some other companies at the time.

“I was wise to choose Café Coffee Day for two reasons – the Chairman had a grand vision, and the brand was adding hundreds of new customers every day. There seemed to be a very large out-of-home coffee consumption market brewing in India.

VG Siddhartha’s tragic death has stunned a nation. The Café Coffee Day website pays moving tribute to his life and achievements.

“As General Manager – Business Development, I set up and managed Café Coffee Day’s key accounts. Over 25 months, my team and I identified and set-up more than 140 cafes across India. They were in airports, railway stations, multiplex chains, large-format stores suchas Shoppers Stop, Walmart, Big Bazaar, Leisure stores, hotel chains like Ginger, educational institutions and hospitals. I recall working closely with many retail CEOs and professionals during this tenure which spanned 22 years.

“Among many things I learned from Chairman – as we fondly addressed him – was the importance of time management. He was an early riser and a voracious reader of articles and magazines. He was up to date with the retail industry across India as well as other sectors. He had an unwritten travel rule in the organisation: first flight out, last flight back, which I follow diligently to this day.

“Café Coffee Day was a coveted anchor tenant for malls. Even as they signed up apparel, grocery and entertainment players, Café Coffee Day always enjoyed – and continues to enjoy – a special place across India’s shopping centres. Landlords knew the brand would regularly attract shoppers.

“VG Siddhartha has left the world in an untimely way, but the brand Café Coffee Day is well entrenched among its connoisseurs, employees and well-wishers who, I am quite sure, will remain loyal long into the future.”

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