Mex­i­can mag­nate built Bimbo into bak­ery em­pire

The Washington Post Sunday - - OBITUARIES - LORENZO SERVITJE, 98 AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Lorenzo Servitje, the Mex­i­can bak­ery mag­nate who helped build his Grupo Bimbo into an in­ter­na­tional snack and baked-goods em­pire that ac­quired brands in­clud­ing En­ten­mann’s, Thomas’, Frei­hofer’s and Stroehmann, died Feb. 3 in Mex­ico City. He was 98.

Grupo Bimbo an­nounced the death but did not pro­vide the cause.

Mr. Servitje launched Grupo Bimbo in 1945 with other part­ners, start­ing with 38 em­ploy­ees and 10 de­liv­ery ve­hi­cles.

Ac­cord­ing to Eric Zolov’s book “Iconic Mex­ico: An En­cy­clo­pe­dia from Aca­pulco to Zócalo,” Bimbo’s name was a fusion of “bingo,” the Amer­i­can ver­sion of the Mex­i­can game of chance called lotería, and “Bambi,” the fawn in the 1942 Dis­ney movie of the same name. The com­bi­na­tion, Zolov wrote, “sug­gested both whole­some play­ful­ness and in­dus­trial might.”

The com­pany now op­er­ates in 22 coun­tries with 100 brands, and it recorded more than $10.7 bil­lion in sales in 2015. Mr. Servitje made fre­quent ap­pear­ances on Forbes mag­a­zine’s bil­lion­aires list.

Start­ing with bread, the com­pany branched into snacks, tor­tillas and other bak­ery prod­ucts. The com­pany is known for its mas­cot, a small, white bear.

Bimbo es­tab­lished a near­monopoly on baked goods in Mex­ico, win­ning the rights to dis­trib­ute Won­der Bread in the coun­try.

The com­pany also ex­panded strongly into the United States, pur­chas­ing Mrs. Baird’s Bak­eries in Texas in 1998. Bimbo Bak­eries USA ac­quired the western U.S. bak­ing busi­nesses of Ge­orge We­ston, adding brands such as Oroweat, En­ten­mann’s, Thomas’ and Boboli.

In 2009, Grupo Bimbo pur­chased the re­main­ing baked­goods busi­nesses of Ge­orge We­ston, ac­quir­ing brands such as Arnold, Brown­berry, Frei­hofer’s and Stroehmann.

Lorenzo Servitje Sen­dra was born in Mex­ico on Nov. 20, 1918, the son of a Span­ish im­mi­grant who started a bak­ery. He left his ac­count­ing stud­ies at the Na­tional Au­ton­o­mous Univer­sity of Mex­ico in the late 1930s to take charge of his fa­ther’s busi­ness af­ter his death.

Mr. Servitje was pre­ceded in death by his wife, Car­men Mon­tull. The cou­ple had eight chil­dren, 24 grand­chil­dren and 48 great-grand­chil­dren.

Mr. Servitje, who pulled back from daily op­er­a­tions by the early 1990s, con­tin­ued to stay in­volved with the bread busi­ness. “I’ve got oats in my veins,” he quipped.

BIMBO VIA EURO­PEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Lorenzo Servitje founded Grupo Bimbo in Mex­ico in 1945. The bread brand spread world­wide, ab­sorb­ing firms such as En­ten­mann’s and Thomas’.

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