Square: the rise of a giant
Square is not just a brand name in Bangladesh. It is an icon in business. But could anyone imagine it would be a leading business conglomerate when four like-minded people in Pabna with Tk 80,000 capital each started a pharmaceutical company 54 years ago, in 1958?
Whether anyone had thought it or not, the four were on the right track with dedication, hard work and vigour to do something for people's welfare that led their company to today's position.
Square is now a group of pharmaceuticals, toiletries, garments, textile, information technology, health products, food products, hospital -- with an average annual turnover of more than Tk 6,000 crore and a workforce of around 33,000 people.
And we might have not seen Square Group in today's position unless the idea of manufacturing life-saving drugs had come out from Samson H Chowdhury, the founder chairman who had conceived the idea from a tiny dispensary at Ataikula in Pabna.
There is a long story behind Square Group's success. A technical collaboration with Belgium's Janssen Pharmaceutica, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson International of USA, in 1974 added a new dimension to Square's journey, helping it maintain a good manufacturing practice for its products.
Square clinched the first position in the pharmaceutical market of Bangladesh among all the national and multinational companies in 1985 and became a pioneer in pharmaceutical export from Bangladesh in 1987.
One year later, Square Toiletries Ltd started its operations as a separate division of Square Pharmaceuticals.
Square Pharmaceuticals, which also received the best enterprise award in 2010 from The Daily Star and DHL Worldwide Express, became a public limited company through initial public offering (IPO) in 1994, in a bid to share the company's business with general public.
The same year, Square Toiletries Ltd became a private limited company.
In 1995 the company reached a new height, as it started producing pharmaceuticals in bulk, commonly known as API (active pharmaceutical ingredient). From 1996, it started full-fledged production of API and is now supplying to all the top pharmaceutical companies within the country.
The API unit in 2007 started manufacturing finished pharmaceutical pellets.
Square won the national export trophy for exporting pharmaceuticals in 1997.
In the same year, Square Textiles Ltd started its journey, and one year later the second textile unit was set up. Square Textiles was listed on the stock exchanges in 2002.
In 1998, the agro-chemicals and veterinary products division of Square Pharmaceuticals started its operations.
Square Spinning Ltd started its journey in 2000, while Square Knit Fabrics Ltd was set up in 2001.
In the same year, Square Fashions Ltd and Square Consumer Products Ltd commenced their operations, while Square InformatiX and Square Hospitals Ltd were also incorporated.
Square Pharmaceuticals built a factory in 2001 under the supervision of Bovis Lend Lease, UK.
In 2006, Square Hospitals Ltd started its journey. The hospital is an affiliate partner of Methodist Healthcare of the USA; SingHealth of Singapore; Bangkok Hospital Medical Centre of Thailand and Christian Medical College of India.
Share prices of Square Pharmaceuticals and Square Textiles fell by 0.62 percent and 1.9 percent to Tk 241.90 and Tk 123.70 respectively yesterday.