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Friday, August 11, 2000

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After 100 years, Gramophone Company becomes Saregama

CALCUTTA, AUGUST 10: In a major corporate strategy, city-based RPG Group today announced the renaming of its music wing, Gramophone Company of India Limited (GCIL) as Saregama India Limited and its plans to launch "Saregama" as its new brand name in Indian music. It was the Gramophone company, named after the now obsolete equipment for playing records, which made the first recording in India in 1901.

RPG Group vice-chairman Sanjiv Goenka told newsmen that the company has been looking for a new label truly reflecting the rapid changes in the technology of music production since the invention of the gramophone.

He said that the GCIL was actually, "repositioning itself" and the process of name change would be completed within four weeks. With this crucial decision the name Gramophone Company, with which the century-old history of Indian music has been associated, will come to an end.

Goenka announced that "Saregama" would be the new name tag of the company to be aggressively positioned in the Indian music market, but it would not immediately replace the HMV brandname, the Indian rights of which are with GCIL on licence from EMI.

"From now on we will have three brandnames, HMV, Saregama and Gramophone", Goenka said, but most music like Indipop would be marketed under the `Saregama' brand name.

The decision to launch the new brand name came barely after a top GCIL executive had revealed here that according to the existing agreement with EMI, the company could use the HMV tag for its new catalogue for only another eight years. Incidentally GCIL already has an offshore subsidiary Saregama Plc which was doing well since its equity was quoted in OFEX London.

Goenka said the company had been looking for a new name which emphasized its emerging role in the entertainment industry. "Sa re ga ma are the notes that every Indian identifies with - they are in fact synonymous with our music".

Explaining the rationale behind replacing the old name he said, "all of us know that the gramophone is an instrument that reflects an era gone by. The Gramophone Company's current need is to reflect dynamism and a contemporary mindset". The Gramophone Company reflected a "solid, old and slow" image but, he said, "we want to be lean, hungry and aggressive".

Goenka said the new name was selected on the basis of market research and expressed confidence that Saregama India Limited would reflect a new robustness and would grow up as a major international brand name.

Goenka said music and entertainment have become the most focussed area for the Calcutta-based group which also has major interest in power, tyres and infotech.

Goenka was also quite upbeat about the financial performance of GCIL during the current financial year as reflected in the first four months. The total cassette sales in the first four months of 2000-2001 was recorded at 1.44 crore against 95 lakh during the corresponding period in the previous year. Similarly the turnover has gone up to Rs 53 crore from Rs 37 crore during the same period, he said.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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