When Vasant Bharath was dismissed as CEO of National Flour
Mills (NFM) after 18 months in the position (September 1996
February 1998), the companys share price stood
at a $4.80. Today, NFMs share price stands at $1.40
despite a five-fold increase in value by the stock market
during the past nine years which, based on normal growth
pattern, should have seen NFM shares traded at somewhere
in the region of $25.
In April 2005, Bharath returned to T&T to take up a
position as CEO of Nutrimix Flour Mills at Point Lisas.
From that time to now, Nutrimixs share of the market
has risen from five per cent to over 40 per cent, Bharath
said in an interview last week. Their clients include some
of NFMs oldest clients who, initially, were adamant
that they would not purchase one bag of Country Pride
flour, he added.
In addition to capturing a significant piece of the local
market, Nutrimix has also expanded its market share to other
Caribbean countries, among them Aruba, Barbados, Belize,
Curacao and Suriname.
One of the largest distributors in the industry, Mohan Persad,
who is based in Princes Town, remembered a time when he
had to be at NFM at 4am, with your cash in your hand
since credit facilities were not considered by the company.
These days he is a satisfied Nutrimix customer, delivering
flour to places as far apart as Point Fortin, Moruga and
Gregory Laing of Puff and Stuff, who never thought hed
ever buy Nutrimix flour, credits Bharath directly for being
100 per cent the reason why I moved to Nutrimix Flour
Bharath, said Laing, is easy-going, straightforward, and
a man of his word.
helps, too, that the flour milled by Nutrimix is a lot finer
and you get a greater yield especially when you want a silkier,
flaky paratha roti, he added.
Apart from moving Nutrimix to a position of strength in
the flour industry, Bharath, a chartered accountant by profession,
is also looking to wrap up the matter of compensation from
After NFM had dismissed him on the grounds that he had purchased
dog rice from India, the company subsequently
took action against the shipping company in the London courts.
The eventual ruling was that the product had been
loaded in good condition and all possible criteria had been
satisfied, but that it was the long transshipment
that was responsible for the deterioration in appearance
of the product when it eventually arrived in Port-of-Spain.
The shipment was insured.
NFM and Huntsville, the shipping company, brokered an out-of-court
settlementthe amount of which has never been made
public by NFM.
The London courts cleared Bharath of any wrongdoing, leaving
him entitled to monies contractually due for salary and
bonuses at the time of his firing. Bharath, however, was
forced to take NFM to court in 2004 since the company refused
to pay him.
The matter is currently listed for hearing in the High Court
but last week Bharath said that NFM approached him in March
this year with an offer of a full out-of-court settlement.