Mexican bakery magnate Lorenzo Servitje, who built his Grupo Bimbo into an international snack and baked-goods empire that acquired brands such as Entenmann’s, Thomas, Freihofer’s and Stroehmann, has died. He was 98.
Grupo Bimbo said Servitje died Friday in Mexico City but did not mention the cause of death.
The head of Mexico’s Business Coordinating Council, Juan Pablo Castanon, called his death “a great loss for Mexico.”
Servitje was born in Mexico on Nov. 20, 1918, the son of a Spanish immigrant who started a bakery.
Servitje launched Grupo Bimbo in 1945 with other partners, starting with 38 employees and 10 delivery vehicles.
The company now operates in 22 countries, with 100 brands; it recorded $10.7 billion in sales in 2015.
Starting with bread, the company branched into snacks, tortillas and other bakery products. The company is known for its mascot, a small white bear.
Was born in Mexico City on November 20, 1918. His father, an immigrant from Catalonia, Spain, opened his own bakery in 1928 in partnership with misters Bonet and Tinoco under the name El Molino. At the age of sixteen, Don Lorenzo used to work in this bakery during his free time.
While studying accounting at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), his father died unexpectedly and Don Lorenzo took charge of the Pastelería El Molino from 1937 until 1945.
In 1945, Don Lorenzo Servitje together with Jaime Jorba, Jaime Sendra, Alfonso Velasco and José T. Mata founded Panificación Bimbo devoted to making loaf bread.
Bimbo expanded strongly into the United Sates, purchasing Mrs. Baird’s Bakeries in Texas in 1998. Bimbo Bakeries USA acquired the western U.S. baking business of George Weston Ltd., adding brands such as Oroweat, Entenmann’s, Thomas and Boboli.
In 2009, Grupo Bimbo purchased the remaining U.S. fresh baked-goods business of George Weston Ltd., acquiring brands such as Arnold, Brownberry, Freihofer’s and Stroehmann.
Servitje was preceded in death by his wife, Carmen Montull. The couple had eight children, 24 grandchildren and 48 great-grandchildren.