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