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BPCL plans lubes export to East Africa

Archana Chaudhary

MUMBAI, June 10

BHARAT Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), the third-largest petroleum products marketer in the country, is planning to sell its lubes products in the East African triumvirate of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, a senior company official has said.

The company, whose overseas presence was limited to neighbours Nepal and Bangladesh until now, plans to sell between 2,000 tonnes and 3,000 tonnes of lubes in the East African nations on entry. "We are looking at selling very basic product volumes of 2,000 to 3,000 tonnes initially," Mr S. Radhakrishnan, Director (Marketing), BPCL, told Business Line.

Industry sources said the company may appoint a well-known NRI business house of East Africa to act as its sales agent.

BPCL, which was focused on expanding its presence in the domestic market over the past two years, has completed a revamp of its lubes branding strategy. It now sells all its lubricants under the umbrella brand name `Mak', Mr Radhakrishnan said.

The company's lubes turnover went up 11 per cent in 2002-03, helped significantly by Rs 40 crore spent on brand building through extensive media campaigns. "We re-packaged and re-introduced products under the umbrella brand Mak during the cricket world cup earlier this year. We plan to focus on building on the bazaar market as well as try to sell in more countries. We are looking at Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda among other East African countries," he said.

Last year, the company was perceived to be relatively "less visible" in the Indian lubes market vis--vis its domestic rivals IOC and HPCL. The company plans to correct the impression and has set aside an advertisement budget similar to the previous year for the current financial year too.

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