Monday, July 05, 2004

A new mall rat

A new mall rat
A new mall rat
Posted online: Monday, July 05, 2004 at 0014 hours IST

Kumaramangalam Birla is in the mood to give his Rs 400 crore Madura Garments a makeover that will cost Rs 30 crore. This will involve an increase in production capacity, as well as a new thrust to his retail operations. In retail, Birla now wants to be assisted by other partners. Madura Garments’ existing stores will soon be upgraded, by new identities being given to his products. For example Louis Philippe will be positioned as a luxury lifestyle brand, and Van Heusen as corporate workwear.

He isn’t only putting old wine in a new bottle, some brand new shops along with new products will soon also make an appearance.

Ever since malls became an easy access point to additional sales, Birla has been entering them. Madura Garments’ outlets are already found everywhere from Bangalore to Mumbai to Gurgaon near Delhi. Now we will see many more all across the country. The tattle is that 80 per cent of the tycoon’s garment business will show up in a mall! That’s a true mall rat in the making.

Out of his new investment, Birla wants the maximum amount to be fed into ads. In the age of the media, this scheme seems a sure winner. One would think Madura is already one of the largest players in the Rs 6,000 crore branded apparel industry. But Birla certainly does not share that view.

Trying tough markets

As the market for herbal medicine is expected to grow to $16 billion next year, in India the effects can be felt too, with an increased demand for personal care products. The market is flooded with players like Zandu, Baidyanath and Dr Morepen’s Lifespring chain. One of them is Meraj Manal of the Himalaya Drug Company, who wants to be the tycoon behind the healthy glow on everyone’s face, even those outside India. So he’s taking his products to Mexico.

Through a tie-up with a local pharmaceutical company in Mexico, the entrepreneur will manufacture and intends to supply his products to the US and South American markets. This will be the real effort as Manal is placing his own men in Mexico in order to upgrade the quality of Himalaya’s products. In this way, he will be able to reach markets he had targetted in the beginning of the year.

Manal’s next agenda is to enter the European markets, which he wants to do after grasping the style and functioning of the import markets. The entrepreneur considers this an easy task as he already has a hang of the outside markets, with hubs in Dubai, Singapore and Houston, which contribute about 15 per cent of the company’s total turnover. After the European venture, Manal will head for Russia and the Southeast Asian markets.

In the meantime other players in the industry are expanding their range, upgrading their manufacturing facilities etc in a bid to explore every possible way to reach out to consumers.

One wonders if Manal is merely following competitors who have also headed that way, or is his Mexican voyage simply a vaulting ambition? Whatever the case, the world will get a taste of drugs from India.


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