Simone Tata Success Story: From Tourist to Leading a ₹70,000 Crore Business in India

Simone Naval Tata, a Swiss-born Indian businesswoman, is a significant figure within the esteemed Tata family. Born in 1930 in Geneva, Switzerland, she graduated from the University of Geneva. Her life took a turn when she visited India in 1953, marking a pivotal moment. During this trip, she met Naval Tata, and they married in 1955, leading her to permanently shift to India. Simone and Naval Tata welcomed Noel Tata, and she assumed the role of Ratan Tata’s stepmother within the Tata Group.

Simone Tata entered the business landscape when she joined the Lakmé board in 1962. At that time, Lakmé was a modest subsidiary of Tata Oil Mills. Her tenure witnessed remarkable growth within the company. She became the Managing Director in 1961 and eventually assumed the role of Chairperson in 1982. Under Simone Tata’s leadership, Lakmé transformed into a premier beauty enhancement brand, showcasing her pivotal role in shaping its trajectory.

Her work at Trent Limited

Apart from her contributions at Lakmé, Simone Tata served as the Non-Executive Chairman of Trent Limited until October 30, 2006. Showcasing her business acumen, this tenure became a significant chapter in her career. Understanding the intricacies of business, she transformed Trent into a major brand.

Simone Tata’s influence extended beyond Lakmé and Trent Limited. In 1989, leveraging her strategic thinking and leadership, she secured a respected position on the board of Tata Industries.

Sold the Lakmé Brand

Identifying opportunities in the retail sector, Simone Tata took a significant step in 1996. Embracing growth prospects, she strategically sold the Lakmé brand to Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) with meticulous planning. Utilizing the proceeds, she bolstered Trent into a major brand, establishing Trent Limited as a key player in India’s retail market. The business deal with Lakmé also benefited shareholders, granting them a stake in Trent Limited.

Birth of Other Brands within Trent Limited

Trent Limited boasts a market capitalization of $7.68 billion as of today, establishing itself as a cornerstone of Simone Tata’s legacy. Within Trent Limited, numerous brands thrive, such as Landmark, a renowned bookstore, Westside, a fashion brand, and Judio Lo, a Tata brand known for affordable fashion. Other brands like Misa Bu, Star Bazaar also fall under Trent’s umbrella. Simone Tata served as the Non-Executive Chairman of Trent Limited until October 30, 2006, bidding farewell to the business world.

Sustaining Simone Tata’s Legacy

Simone Tata’s legacy lives on through her son Noel Tata, who has taken significant leadership roles within the Tata Group. Serving as Chairman of both Tata Investment Corporation and Trent Limited, Noel Tata continues to propel the Tata empire forward with inherited experience and business acumen from his mother.

Simone Tata’s journey from Switzerland to India, her role in the success of the Lakmé brand, followed by triumphs with Tata Industries and Trent Limited, epitomize her as a resilient businesswoman. In India’s corporate history, the Tata brand holds a special place in everyone’s hearts, and Simone Tata’s contributions as the helm of such a colossal group are commendable. Her story serves as an inspiration, showing that regardless of where you’re born, with hard work and dedication, you can script your success story in any field.

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