'3M is bullish on India'

'3M is bullish on India'

'3M is bullish on India'

Scotch Brite and Post-it are commonly used products in most of the households and offices. However, not many know that these are manufactured by 3M.


Debarati Sen, who took over as first woman Managing Director of 3M India and Sri Lanka, a year ago, explains to Mahesh Kulkarni of DH on how 3M is innovating products for India and other global markets. 

Edited excerpts:

You have just completed one year as MD of 3M India after a long stint at global head quarters. How has been your experience?
I had an opportunity to work in 3M in Bengaluru before moving to global headquarters in the US. It was a fantastic opportunity to come back to India. 3M is bullish on India, where we have seen the mega trends for the first time. The policy environment is matching the mega trends. 

The middle class is consuming more. 3M is a multi-sector company with core technology platforms. We are in India for the last 30 years. Make in India is going to make more manufacturing coming to India. 

On the industrial and automotive sides, we are bullish, as more people are buying two- wheelers, cars and washing machines. Our industrial products division grew 10% last fiscal. Our healthcare and consumer products divisions are growing even faster.

During FY17, the company has recorded a modest growth of 10% in topline. Are you satisfied with the performance?
Very satisfied. Despite demonetisation, which impacted our sales to some extent, we achieved our sales targets for the year. Every retail outlet, where our popular product Scotch-Brite is sold, did not have PoS machines for consumers to swipe their cards. We achieved 10% topline growth and above 20% growth in the bottomline in FY17.

What kind of growth are you looking for the company in FY18?
We are looking at a double digit growth. With the GDP growing at 7%, services and infrastructure spend will grow. We should be growing at a strong double digit growth during the current fiscal. Healthcare, safety and graphics are fastest growing product divisions, besides consumer goods.

3M is largely known for consumer products like Scotch-Brite and Post-it. How are you changing the perception?
3M is a multi-sector, multi-product company with core technology platforms. We are in India for the last 30 years and sell over 10,000 products in India today. We are doing a lot of new things. We are looking at launching home decoration and festive decoration products for the upcoming festival season. People look at 3M as a product company and not a talent company. But, we are changing that perception. We are looking at exporting talents to the global operations of 3M. Currently, we have 20 people from India working at regional or global locations in senior positions in 3M across the world. We will continue to be net exporter of talents from India. On the product side, our R&D lab is developing several new products across all our verticals.

What are the new products that your R&D team is currently working?
We are working on many mega trends in the automotive sector. Our R&D team is working on a product that will reduce in-cabin noise and vibration in cars. We see different driving styles and different road conditions, which in a certain way add to acoustic irritations and upset the given levels of comfort to the car occupants.  To make the driving experience little more pleasant and worthy, we are developing a product for different cars. 

The product is still in the design stage and we are working with car OEMs to bring it to the market. The automobile industry is set to grow 8% this year, while we expect our growth to be in high-teen range (between 13% and 19%).

We have also developed multi enzyme cleaners used for cleaning instruments (Surgical, Medical and Dental Instruments including Endoscopes) in hospitals. Other products include surface sanitisation and disinfection products, which are solely designed and developed in our R&D lab in Bengaluru. We have also secured patents for these products.

We are doing this, both with our traditional Post-it range as well as a series of new launches in second half of the year, including the repositionable whiteboard films, which will transform collaboration in offices. Apart from this, we have also developed infection prevention products for hospitals and chronic wound care products in our healthcare division. 

What are your plans for growing online sales?
Our growth has been significant on online platforms. Our sales is growing at over 70% each year. We sell on Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal, which are providing platform to sell our products. 

Currently, ecommerce marketplaces contribute to 3% of our sales and we are aiming at increasing it to 10% of our sales in the next five years. We will participate with all responsible ecommerce players.