Santoor takes Wipro on high growth path

Vineet Agrawal displays the ranhe of Wipro's consumer care and lighting products. DH Photo by B H Shivakumar

In 1985, when Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting test-marketed its now No 1 product Santoor in the Bangalore market, it had failed. Usually, if a product fails in the test market, the company doesn’t extend it, either junk it or do a major revamp and do the retest. But in this case, it was different. The company was so confident that it went ahead and launched the product nationally. Now, Santoor brand has crossed Rs 1,900 crore in sales.

Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting, which is a part of Wipro Enterprises, was earlier headquartered in Mumbai, and it moved to Bengaluru (then Bangalore) in 2000.

Santoor is now the No 1 brand in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka. As an organisation, the company has grown from Rs 300 crore revenue in FY 2003 to Rs 6,600 crore in FY 2018.

Last fiscal, the company crossed $1 billion revenue for the first time. For long time now, Santoor has been the company’s key growth driver. “In 2003, Santoor was a Rs 150-crore brand, and now it is Rs 1,900 crore,” says Vineet Agrawal, CEO, Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting, sitting at his posh office in Doddakannelli in Sarjapur. In front of him lies the journey of Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting- from Santoor, Chandrika to Glucovita and the newly-launched Giffy dish wash gel.

Today, the business includes soaps, toiletries, personal care products, baby care products, wellness products, electrical wire devices, domestic and commercial lighting and modular office furniture. All brands that Wipro started have grown big at present. In 2003, lighting business- both home and commercial lighting- was close to Rs 70-80 crore, and now it is Rs 860 crore. Wipro Lighting, a part of Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting Group was started in 1992 to manufacture and market lighting products. Today, it offers a wide range of LED product offerings. Talking about its growing lighting business, Agrawal says, “it contributes around 12% of our total revenues”. LiFi is the new concept that the company is working on at present.

LiFi is a high-speed bidirectional fully networked, wireless communications using visible light rather than radio frequencies. It can offer significantly greater security, data rates and densities to support more robust and reliable wireless networks that complement and enhance existing cellular and Wi-Fi networks. “At present, three clients are using it, including one from Bengaluru,” informs Agrawal, adding large offices will prefer this.

When the company entered the lighting business there were already big players like Philips, Bajaj, Crompton and the likes. Wipro started focusing on newer technology with particular thrust on innovation. “Close to 80% of our sales come through LEDs. CFLs might probably die down in another couple of years, though regular bulbs that cost Rs 10 will remain,” says the CEO. Wipro has an added advantage when it comes to selling its lighting products, thanks to its personal care products as they help them in selling lights at 8 lakh kirana outlets, which a Philips or a Bajaj can not do.

Home automation

In February this year, Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting forayed into home automation space with the launch of Wipro Z Nxt Home Automation System. Though home automation is a new concept in India, it is evolving.

According to Research and Markets, the India home automation market is expected to cross Rs 30,000 crore by 2022. Wipro Z Nxt uses the latest wireless Z wave technology, which has distinct advantages over existing wired and other retrofit solutions.

Successful acquisitions

The company started its international journey in 2007 with acquisition of Unza Holdings, followed by LD Waxsons in 2012, Zhongshan Ma Er in 2016. In the last 15 years, the company has spent more than $600 million on acquisitions and all of them are doing well now.

It acquired Glucovita in 2003, Chandrika in 2004, Northwest switches in 2006, Yardley (for Asia, Middle East, North Africa and Australasia) in 2009, Clean Ray in 2011, Yardley UK in 2012, and L D Waxsons Group in 2012. With these acquisitions, the company has a formidable presence in South East Asia, China and West Asia.

“All acquisitions of ours have done well. Chandrika has grown 4 times now since we acquired it in 2004, Yardley has grown 3.2 times and Unza 3 times. We clock 50% of revenues from international markets,” says Agrawal.

The company forayed into the hair oil category with the launch of Chandrika Ayurvedic Hair Oil in Kerala market recently. “It is made through an ancient authentic Ayurvedic Kaachiya Enna process. Hair oil is a large and cluttered market, we need to differentiate compared with others,” says Agrawal.

After a successful test launch, the company last month introduced Giffy concentrated Dish Wash Gel in Karnataka. The brand is currently available at more than 24,000 outlets in Karnataka and Maharashtra. Wipro is already into liquid detergent space with Safewash and it also has Softouch fabric conditioner. “The biggest driver is liquid detergent and it is softer on clothes. Worldwide there has been a shift from powder to liquid. US and Europe markets are much ahead of India, but now the country is slowly seeing the progression towards the use of liquid detergent,” informs Agrawal.

Aashish Kasad, Partner Tax and Regulatory Services, EY India, said the demand for personal care products and hence consequential growth of this category is imminent in India given the positive macro economic factors and current level of per capital usage.

“Wipro Consumer Care has invested in developing indigenous products and high recall brands that are enabling the company to offer healthy competition in a market that has multiple dominant players,” she said.

For Wipro Consumer Care, after India, the second largest market is Malaysia with a turnover of $145 million, followed by China at $120 million. The company has 15 manufacturing facilities in five countries (India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam) and a global workforce of more than 10,000 representing 22 nationalities. It plans to add ninth manufacturing facility at Telangana in India, and another manufacturing facility in Guangzhou, China. These facilities will be operational in two years. The company grew 18% last fiscal, whereas, the industry’s growth was around 13%. Agrawal concludes that Wipro Consumer Care will come up with new products both in India and outside the country.

(With inputs from Mahesh Kulkarni)

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Santoor takes Wipro on high growth path

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