New Delhi: Ramesh Chandra Agarwal inherited a publishing business set up by his father Dwarka Prasad Agarwal in 1956.
In 1983, he decided to expand and diversify the business. “The rest is history,” says Arun Pareek, a former employee who worked closely with Agarwal.
Agarwal, who died following a heart attack upon his arrival at Ahmedabad airport on Wednesday, leaves behind a company, DB Corp Ltd, that publishes seven newspapers including its three flagship newspapers Dainik Bhaskar, Divya Bhaskar and Saurashtra Samachar.
The three have a combined average daily readership of 19.8 million across the country, according to the company’s BSE filings.
The company that was listed in 2010 reported a revenue of Rs630.9 crore in the quarter ended December 2016, up 6% from a year ago.
The company also has interests in radio as well as outdoor advertising. It operates 30 radio stations under the 94.3 My FM brand.
Agarwal and DB Corp’s journey started in 1983 with the launch of the Indore edition of Dainik Bhaskar. In the mid 1990s, Bhaskar stepped out of Madhya Pradesh and launched in Rajasthan.
Currently, Dainik Bhaskar is among the top three most-read newspapers in the country, according to the Indian Readership Survey published by the Readership Studies Council of India (RSCI), an industry body formed jointly by the Media Research Users Council (MRUC) and the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC).
Along with his three sons— Sudhir, Girish and Pawan— Ramesh Agarwal further expanded the newspaper business when he launched the Gujarati daily Divya Bhaskar in 2003.
The newspaper’s success story became a case study at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.
Later, in 2005, he also launched DNA (Daily News & Analysis) an English language newspaper in Mumbai in a joint venture with Subhash Chandra’s Essel group. However, in 2012 it sold its 50% stake in the business to Essel group.
As per the report Press in India 2015-16, prepared by the Registrar of Newspapers of India (RNI), Dainik Bhaskar was the most circulated multi-edition daily in 2015-16 with 45 editions and a total claimed circulation of 4.6 million copies per publishing day.
Speaking about Ramesh Agarwal, former group editor of Dainik Bhaskar Shravan Garg said: “He was a visionary. He was a man of determination and courage. No one can imagine the kind of leadership he provided to the group. He was responsible for taking the group to such heights. He launched the paper in Indore at a time when the market was completely dominated by other players.”
Mint’s publisher HT Media and its subsidiary HMVL compete with DB in some markets.