Lovely Professional University, the group’s flagship business, is a result of years of toil to prove its competency in running an educational institution. The organisation, which was founded in 1999, had to wait years to receive permissions and draw students. The university did not have formal recognition until 2006.
LPU has 35,000 students from 50 different countries after 16 years in functioning, which is a lot for a private institution. The Mittal family is doing everything possible to put aside their reputation as "laddu walas.In addition to Lovely Automobiles, which deals with car dealerships throughout Punjab, and LPU, a private higher education school, the 60-year-old family-run firm that began with Lovely sweets in Jalandhar, Punjab, now has three business verticals.
The Legacy Since 1961
Around 10 kilometres outside of the city, in the Jalandhar cantonment, the Lovely Group had its start in 1961 with a modest sweets store. They had recently moved to Punjab, having immigrated there with their late grandfather from Rajasthan. Baldev Raj Mittal, the father of Ashok Mittal, established a sweets company to make ends meet. Their first store was unique compared to other sweets stores at the time. It was a two-hour-a-day store with closed doors, so no one could see what was happening inside. The goal was to stimulate customers' interest in what was going on in the store, which initially succeeded.
Ramesh's father, Baldev Raj Mittal, stands to benefit from his lack of knowledge with Punjab's sweets culture. Laddus were made of badi boondi, but he also tried chotti boondi, which quickly gained popularity.
According to Ashok, he brought the idea of motichoor ke ladoo to Punjab. They opened a second store in the city of Jalandhar when the laddus got popular. Lovely quickly became a well-known brand of Indian confections. The sweets established a respectable reputation in Jalandhar by the middle of the 1970s, but the company was unable to expand. Ramesh joined the company around this period.
The company expanded under Ramesh and Naresh from retail to wholesale. They started distribution across India and diversified into snacks and cookies.
Eventually as they saw that the craze for automobiles in Jalandhar was just building up the took the opportunity and saw it as a way of expansion. There were various challenges with the expansion.The automakers took a risk and invested in Lovely in 1991 after several pitch sessions and Lovely's efforts to persuade Bajaj. Maruti Suzuki followed this in 1996.
Hindrances Faced in the Development of LPU
The sons got involved as the company expanded. The four members who were still actively involved in business were looking for opportunities to enter. The family discovered higher education to be a perfect fit in 1999.
The Lovely Group focused on professional education because Jalandhar's universities didn't provide such programmes.Entering this area was done for two reasons. One was that it would provide a social status and a way to give back to society, and the other was that they wanted to rethink education beyond textbooks and exams.
By 2001, they had registered with Punjab Technical University (PTU) as the International Institute of Management, which offered four management programmes. The attempt failed. Despite several promotions and marketing, the institute was unable to draw in new students.
They quickly discovered this wouldn't work after starting the firm. Under PTU, they were unable to recruit students or have any autonomy to do business as they saw necessary. They chose to go private as a result, according to Aman.
The family later changed the name of their institution to Lovely Professional University so that it could experiment with its operations and curriculum.
At first, they encountered several difficulties due to the brand name. It took them some time to get over the label of "laddu wallas," which they were still subjected to. At the time, Punjab did not have a professional private university founded, and obtaining permissions was difficult. It took them years to persuade the state's chief minister (CM) and the educational board.
Innovating in The Upcoming Years
LPU launched in 2006 with the CM's support and the results of years of study into young demand. The family said that its USP was that it was a professional educational institution with a focus on helping students find employment. Today, LPU offers 200 programmes in 40 different disciplines, claims to have a network of 3,000 recruiters nationwide and internationally, and has a built-up area of 8.5 million square feet.
Apart from the evident absence of a rival in the area, not many things have gone in LPU's favour. The university's expansion has greatly benefited by Aman's efforts to internationalise it; LPU now has around 3,000 international students and has partnerships with 300 universities across the world for various courses. The lack of strict requirements for student admission is another.
Despite drawing students, LPU's integrity was questioned since it admitted students without having a predetermined standard for scores, in contrast to other accredited institutions in India. It created the LPU National Entrance and Scholarship Test in 2021 after discovering this shortcoming, which is an aptitude test for admission to all university programmes.
The older son of Naresh Mittal, Shaishav Mittal, evolved Lovely Sweets into a Lovely Bake Studio that handles everything associated with a bakery. Currently the COO of Lovely Sweets and Bake Studio, he claims that efforts are being made to increase the number of physical outlets from 10 to over 50 in the next two years.
The partnership business, which has each of its verticals registered separately, had a turnover of 1,153 crore for 2020–21 and claimed investments in all three verticals totaling 912 crore.
The Lovely Group entered into strategically unconnected industries to eventually grow into a multi-business giant in Punjab.