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Calgonit -- Reckitt launchesfirst post-merger product 

Pummy Kaul  
As a countdown to the Reckitt-Benckiser merger process in India, Reckitt & Colman India Ltd (RCIL) has started the roll-out of Benckiser's basket of brands in the country.

To start with, RCIL has introduced a range of automatic dishwashers under the Calgonit brandname which is No 1 in the auto dishwashers category.

Reckitt and Benckiser merged in July last to form the world's number one household cleaning products company with annual net revenues of $4.9 million.

In India, while Reckitt & Colman enjoys a strong presence and leadership in various brands through the Rs 504-crore RCIL, Benckiser doesn't have a presence in the Indian market at all. The latter came in a few years ago and then exited as it did not find India a lucrative market. Meanwhile, RCIL last month applied to the Registrar of Companies for a change in the name to Reckitt-Benckiser. The namechange will be subject to the approval of its shareholders and CLB. Besides Calgonit, RCIL is examining marketing and manufacture of other Benckiser products as well. RCIL spokesperson, however, refused to give out further details.

The dishwashing category is the fifth core category identified by Reckitt-Benckiser for the post-merged group. The other four categories are-fabric care, surface care, health and personal care, dishwashing and home care.

In India, RCIL is already pushing its Teepol dish scrubber brand strongly in the manual dishwashing segment. Hence, moving on to the automatic dishwashing segment-at present, a small market-could possibly fit in with the Calgonit dishwashing range. ``The idea is to come early and grow along the machines market,'' the company spokesperson added. Though the Calgonit range has about 20 products and is more popular for its tablets version, in India the Calgonit range consists of a detergent, rinse aid and salt.

``Calgonit tablets are targeted at an evolved market,'' said the spokesperson. The Calgonit range is currently being imported untried.

However, over a period, RCIL plans to manufacture it here once it has got a `cushion of volumes to support it.'

Targeted at the top-end market with a premium pricing of Rs 200 for 1 kg detergent, Rs 100 for 500 ml rinse aid and Rs 80 for 2 kg salt- Calgonit is being launched in select outlets in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Chandigarh. The brand is being endorsed by some of the leading automatic dishwash manufacturers including IFB and Electrolux.

Of the five core categories identified for the merged company, RCIL is present in fabric care (Robin), home care (Harpic, Colin floor cleaner), personal care (Dettol soap) and health (Disprin) and surface care (Lizol).

However in India, Reckitt is best known for its Harpic lavatory cleaners and Lizol disinfectant. Also, there are categories like pest-control (Mortein) and shoe care (Cherry Blossom) in which RCIL is the market leader in India but doesn't come under the core categories identified for the merged company. However, industry observers feel that even in categories like fabric care where both the companies have strong brands like Reserve and Robin, Benckiser would have to totally rely on RCIL's marketing and distribution strength in India if it wanted to add one of its brands to the Indian market in the future.

In the aircare category-which comes in the general category of homecare-both the companies are present with their brands-RCIL has its Haze and Benckiser has Ace.

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