Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting (WCCL) — the consumer care arm of the Azim Premji-led Wipro Group — which has a significant presence in the rural market, was impacted majorly in the last two quarters. Vineet Agrawal, CEO of the company tells Sesa Sen that green shoots of revival is visible and a positive upturn is likely in the next couple of months. Excerpts:
WCCL has recently signed a definitive agreement to acquire South Africa-based personal care firm Canway Corp. In what way is this acquisition a positive strategy?
Canway is one of the largest, independently owned, personal care companies in South Africa and has been running successfully since its founding almost 20 years ago. Oh SO Heavenly from Canway is a premier personal care brand with a significant presence in the fast-growing body wash and lotions category and gifting segment. It offers us a unique opportunity to establish a strong presence in South Africa and potentially expand into the rest of Africa.
Amid the ongoing slowdown in the domestic market, do you think it is an opportune moment for tapping overseas market?
We have never looked at geographies outside of India as optional markets that help the company when one geography is slowing down. We evaluate markets for the potential they have for growing our presence. Over the last 12 years, we have consistently focused on India and abroad and have looked for opportunities to grow and expand. We will continue to do so.
When do you expect a revival in demand?
We are seeing early signs of revival. The government has announced several measures to improve rural consumption. The monsoon has been good. We believe the domestic market is on the path of recovery and a positive upturn will be visible in the next couple of months.
Is there a slowdown in global markets?
International business, which accounts for 54 per cent of our overall revenues, has been good for us. We have grown immensely in our key geographies including Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and China. We have also been able to grow our acquisitions and this gives us tremendous confidence. India, Malaysia and China are our top three geographies.
This year we have made two acquisitions. Your expansion plans in terms of products as well as manufacturing facility our strategy is to deep-dive into the regional markets. In the personal care space, West Bengal is a critical market we are determined to grow brand Santoor by launching specialised offerings such as Santoor Aloe soap, Santoor Gold soap, Pocket perfumes specifically in the state. For one, Santoor has a diverse category portfolio of soaps, perfumes, hand wash, body lotion and baby soaps. Besides, we have also recently entered the floor care category with the launch of MaxKleen in Karnataka.
We also have plans to set up two manufacturing units — in Telangana (India) and in China. In Hyderabad, we are investing `200 crore and the facility is likely to start operations in May-June next year. We also have plans to expand our facility in Amalner, Maharashtra —our oldest plant.
What’s next for Wipro?
Next priority for us is the LED segment. In India, the LED lighting segment is estimated to be around Rs 14,900 crore of which smart lighting constitutes less than 10 per cent of the overall business. We will be launching more products in smart lighting and smart home space in the coming years and expect our eastern markets to contribute significantly to our revenues.