FMCG major Reckitt Benckiser is adding new shine to its India strategy. With the completion of the global takeover of Boots, the Indian arm of the British MNC is all set to introduce a clutch of power brands from its global stable and continue with the JV arrangement that Boots Healthcare had with Nicholas Piramal.
It is also looking at forging retail JVs to manage its portfolio expansion. Chander M Sethi, chairman & MD, Reckitt Benckiser India, told ET: “One of my priorities is to evaluate the best option for Reckitt Benckiser (post-acquisition of Boots). Part of the (takeover) deal is the joint venture management in India which will continue. Reckitt Benckiser globally owns more brands and there is a JV selling those brands.
So the acquisition will play out in India as well. Reckitt Benckiser's focus is on the brands and we would build whatever brand properties that we own.” Prior to the acquisition of Boots, Reckitt Benckiser itself had an arrangement with the Nicholas Piramal group which was subsequently dissolved. Mr Sethi hinted at the possibility of getting into sale or retail JVs to manage the large stable of brands available to the company post-Boots takeover.
“My focus is initially on household cleaning products but with these large portfolios we are looking at options,” he said. “And one of the options could be a partner for selling and retailing of brands but not ownership.” The Boots takeover will put Reckitt Benckiser India's product expansion plans in fourth-gear.
“It's not only about (Boots) brands like Strepsil and Clearasil (sold through a JV with Nicholas Piramal in India) but also Nurofen which has a large global presence and products from the Reckitt portfolio which are not here yet including Fybogel (currently under a selling arrangement with Piramal), Gaviscon, Lemsip, Senokot and Steradent (denture cleaners), ”
Mr Sethi said. The company, he said, will aggressively launch both personal care and household cleaning brands. “In South Asia, we still have a portfolio comprising both global power brands and local heroes.
And we have yet another set of brands which are not here yet,” Mr Sethi said. “In household products, we have fabric treatment and water softener (for dishwashers) brands like Calgonit, Calgon, Finish which are on their way to India.” Also on the anvil are household cleaning brands like Easy Off Bam.
The company has launched Vanish Shakti stain remover and Veet depilatories. “We are now bringing in our global brands and we have just entered an agreement to bring in our Finish (dishwasher) brand,” Mr Sethi said. “Our strategy is to bring in our global power brands and grow the brands we already have here including the local heroes.”
As part of its brand aggression, Reckitt Benckiser India is sniffing for big ticket brand acquisitions as well, both in household cleaning and in health and personal care. “Health/personal care and household cleaning are the areas where we would be looking at anything synergistic that adds value and is suitably large in size,” Mr Sethi said.
“We are looking at big buckets, not small brands. Ditto for healthcare.” He even joked that he would be “quite happy to buy Fair & Lovely”.