As the world’s largest producer of household products, Reckitt Benckiser is a name not beholden to any introduction. Yet, and rather surprisingly, though its products are an inseparable part of our daily lives, most of us are a lot more familiar with its brands than we are with the company itself. I, for one, am regularly surprised by how many RB products I find lying around the living room at any given point of time without even realizing it. Clearly, that’s something it can give itself a big pat on the back for, as unlike many of its flashier rivals, RB prefers to go about selling its products in a rather unassuming manner, allowing its year-after year of unmatched profits do the talking instead.
The fact that RB is a household presence in the country, however, should hardly come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the products on offer from the Reckitt stable. With iconic brands like Dettol, Mortein, Air Wick, there are few other countries in the world as suited for its product line as India, blessed as we are with a wonderful variety of flies, mosquitoes, and other varieties of crawling creatures without which our lives would feel entirely incomplete. Reckitt Benckiser is particularly well known in India for its range of germ killers and insecticides. Dettol, a 75-year-old antiseptic brand, earns yearly revenue of Rs1000 crore for the company in India, while Harpic, glass cleaner Colin, and pest and mosquito repellant Morteien have 75%, 88% and 60% market share, respectively, in their market segments. With rural India accounting for 35% of the Rs1.4 trillion packaged consumer goods industry, it should come as no surprise that Reckitts is increasingly focusing on the Indian hinterland to drive revenue growth in the years ahead. Helping it further deepen its footprint should be the acquisition of Paras Pharma, a buy that could well see the global giant expand its existing customer base with millions of new customers getting added in one stroke.
Paras, which closed FY2010 with net sales of Rs 401.4 crore, is almost a perfect fit, with a product line straddling both the consumer product and personal care domains. It makes several over-the-counter medications, including Moov pain relief ointment, Krack heel care lotion, and D’Cold cold remedy, all of which form an integral part of the middle-class household’s daily regime. Come summer, and Dermicool, that gift of god which allows us a few solemn moments of chemically induced coolness, is often the only relief for millions of unfortunate countrymen forced to rough it out under the blazing Indian summer.
So what can we expect from Reckitt in the days ahead?..with only 11 of the 19 Reckitt Benckiser power brands currently available in the Indian market, it clearly has a few more tricks up its sleeve yet to further consolidate its already widespread presence in our homes. And unless you are counting on our cities getting cleaner any time soon (in which case you probably need to get your head checked), one can rest assured that we will continue to lap up its ever expanding portfolio for some time to come.