Don Lorenzo Servitje Sendra, co-founder of the international snack and baked goods empire, died on February 3, at the age of 98.
‘Outlook remains overly positive’
“Lorenzo Servitje’s death has created a void that definitely is hard to fill. However, the charismatic leader has built such a strong company that the long-term outlook remains overly positive,” an analyst from Future Market Insights told BakeryandSnacks.
“After the news of his death, Grupo Bimbo stocks saw a decline, dropping to 46.74 points on February 8.
“However, considering the strong presence of the group in over 22 countries, and the positive growth forecast of the overall bakery and snacks market, it is expected that the company will maintain its momentum in the short and long-term.
“The food and beverage analysts at Future Market Insights maintain a positive outlook on the Group in 2017.”
A great man
“Seventy-one years after it was founded, Grupo Bimbo still promotes the values and philosophy that Don Lorenzo himself instilled in the company,” Grupo Bimbo noted in a statement.
“We will always remember him as the great man, leader and source of inspiration he was to each and every one of us, and we would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the legacy he has left behind.”
Servitje (fondly known as Don Lorenzo) and his associates established the Sara Lee and Wonder Bread maker when they first introduced their sliced white bread to the Mexican market in 1945.
By the mid-1990s, Grupo Bimbo was selling more tortillas in the US than in Mexico.
Don Lorenzo was born on November 20, 1918 in Mexico City. His parents, Juan Servitje Torrallardona and Josefinda Sendra, were descendants of Spanish immigrants from Catalonia.
Grupo Bimbo, today one of the biggest bakery empires in the world, began as a small bakery founded by Servitje's father in 1928.
Bringing Mexican bakery into the future
When Don Lorenzo inherited El Molina Bakery after his father’s sudden demise in 1932, he set about upgrading the facility by installing US industrial baking technology.
Grupo Bimbo was founded in 1945, soon after World War II with 34 employees and 10 trucks that delivered four products: cellophane-wrapped loaves of white bread in two sizes, rye bread and toasted bread.
Today, the snack and baked goods conglomerate employs more than 130,000 people and has 170 factories operating in 22 countries that make 10,000 products. In 2014, the company reported over $14bn in sales. Don Lorenzo has made frequent appearances on Forbes magazine’s billionaires list.
Starting with Wonder Bread, which is marketed as ‘healthful’ and ‘dependable’, the company established a near-monopoly on baked goods in Mexico, diversify its portfolio with snacks, tortillas and American-style products, like donuts, and hot dog and hamburger rolls.
World’s biggest bakery
The company added to its line by introducing a division for sweets and chocolates in 1971, before expanding into the US as Bimbo Bakeries USA, purchasing Mrs. Baird’s Bakeries in 1998.
It became the biggest baking company in the US in 2009 after acquiring Weston Foods, adding brands like Oroweat, Entenmann’s, Thomas’, Baboli, Arnold, Brownberry, Freihofer’s and Stroehmann.
In 2011, it purportedly became the world’s biggest bakery after scooping up competitors in Spain, Portugal and Argentina.
Dom Lorenzo was president of Grupo Bimbo until 1981 and board chairman until 1994. His wife, Carmen Montull, died in 2002. He is survived by two sons, six daughters, 24 grandchildren and 50 great-grandchildren.
His son, Daniel Javier Servitje Montull, is chairman and CEO of Grupo Bimbo.