Sandalwood secures good omens for KSDL

Sandalwood secures good omens for KSDL

The makers of the iconic Mysore Sandal Soap, a household brand across South India, Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited (KSDL) is on a higher growth trajectory. The company is headed northwards at a time when even Maharatna and Navaratna PSUs are battling for survival.

The KSDL is eyeing a robust 20% topline growth during the current fiscal, as its popularity and profitability, predominantly on account of the consistent production of its pure sandalwood oil-based soap, proceed with great strides.

The Karnataka government-owned company was set up in 1916 by Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the then Maharaja of Mysore, and Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya, the then Dewan of Mysore, for sandalwood oil extraction and export. An idea to use this oil to manufacture soaps, took root in the mind of the Maharaja, supported by the Dewan and validated by an industrial chemist Sosale Garalapuri Shastry. This led to the formation of the Mysore Sandal Soap In 1918.

The company was under loss between 1980 and 1990 when the marketing of its products was done by another state enterprise Mysore Sales International Limited (MSIL). However, the company got back control over its sales in 1990. It also received an interest-free unsecured loan from the government of Karnataka during the year 1990 to 1996 amounting to Rs 3.5 crore.

M R Ravikumar, MD, KSDL, said, “After we got the control over sales, the company recovered losses and became profitable again. It has been 10 years now that the company has been consistently making profits.” Its product portfolio consists of 91 products across categories.

For the year 2017-18, KSDL reported a turnover of Rs 583 crore and increased it further to Rs 672 crore in 2018-19, a growth of 15.3% year-on-year. The net profit of the company almost doubled from Rs 67 crore in the year 2017-18 to around Rs 123 crore as on March 2019, a growth of 83.5% over the previous year. The company’s topline growth is around 16.5% annually, which is much higher compared to the industry growth of 8-9%.

In FY19, KSDL produced 13,000 metric tonnes of soaps across all brands. Ravikumar said the company is aiming at a turnover of Rs 800 crore by March 2020.

KSDL’s market share in the soap market is a minuscule 1.8-2.5%. However, its share in the premium soap category is 12%, while the premium soap as a category accounts for 20% of the overall soap market in the country.

The company holds 40% market share in Southern markets and commands huge popularity in the markets of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana followed by Karnataka. “Mysore Sandalsoap (75 gm) remains to be the company’s star product, contributing the most to its revenues,” said Ravikumar.

What’s new?

KSDL is now readying to launch four new soap variants — Mysore sandalwood youth soap, beauty soap, health soap and glycerine soap by October this year. The company is also set to launch sandalwood oil-based moisturising cream, which has already been test-marketed across top cities in the country and has received an encouraging response.

The company is also gearing up to launch a travel kit comprising toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, hair oil, moisturiser and comb. The kit is likely to be priced at Rs 75 and will hit the shelves next month.

KSDL is also planning to launch a new variant under its most expensive super-premium soap, Mysore Sandal Millennium.

Exports

The company, which has a geographical indication (GI) tag for its sandalwood soaps, currently exports to 11 countries including America, Saudi Arabia, London and Paris. Its export earnings stood at Rs 15 crore last year. It is now planning to make further inroads into West Asia, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina this year.

Challenges

Being a government-owned company, KSDL is facing several challenges such as a negligible marketing and advertising budget, which is limited to Rs 12-13 crore a year. However, this year, it has been hiked to Rs 20 crore. The company is planning to rope in ace cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni as its brand ambassador for the second time. He was their brand ambassador in 2006. “He is a popular face across the country, but holds a special appeal in the North,” said Ravikumar.

Another key challenge for the company is logistics. Its market presence in the northern states is limited due to huge cost. The company is looking at setting up a manufacturing unit in north India.

KSDL, which has 363 permanent employees against the sanctioned strength of 985 posts, has sought government approval to recruit 500 more this year.