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Liberty group to diversify into housing development

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Mr Adarsh Gupta, CEO, Liberty Whiteware, at the inauguration of the plant at Neemrana (Rajasthan) on Monday. Ramesh Sharma
Mr Adarsh Gupta, CEO, Liberty Whiteware, at the inauguration of the plant at Neemrana (Rajasthan) on Monday. Ramesh Sharma

Dharini Nagarajan

New Delhi, Nov. 14

THE Liberty Group plans to diversify into other businesses apart from shoes, which it has been manufacturing since 1993.

On the sidelines of the inauguration of its sanitaryware (Liberty Whiteware) plant in Neemrana in Rajasthan, Mr Adesh Gupta, CEO, Liberty group, said there are plans to diversify into newer business ventures, including housing development.

The group is looking at two projects, but Mr Gupta declined to go into any further details. He, however, stressed that manufacturing shoes would remain its core business.

Mr Adarsh Gupta, Executive Director, Liberty Group, said the group had already purchased land in Panipat and was looking to build a township there.

The Liberty group had been working on diversification plans since early 2000. Cashing in on its popularity in the footwear market, the company hasentered into a joint venture with Pantaloon Retail India Ltd. to set up a chain of stores for footwear retailing and other accessories.

Pantaloon Retail will hold 51 per cent and Liberty 49 per cent stake in the new company, which has an authorised capital of Rs 25 crore. The group has also set up a 100-per cent subsidiary in Dubai as part of its expansion strategy.

He said the group has been undergoing a restructuring process, adding that their recent foray into sanitaryware business was one of the primary projects on the agenda.

Sanitary Ware unit

THE Liberty Group has announced its foray into the sanitary ware business and set up a manufacturing unit in Neemrana (Rajasthan) for the same.

It has invested Rs 100 crore in the plant and launched a new entity Liberty Whiteware Pvt Ltd, under which the sanitary ware products will be marketed.

The new project, which is in technical collaboration with SACMI Imola of Italy, will manufacture washbasins, WC bowls, bidets, shower trays and ceramic accessories. Branded as "Beach", the products are expected to hit the market by early next year.

Mr Adarsh Gupta, CEO, Liberty Whiteware, expects the project to break even in its first year with an expected turnover of Rs 50 crore. "The company is targeting a total turnover of Rs 200 crore in the fifth year of commercial operations. The facility will produce 200,000 pieces of sanitary ware in its first year of operations, which would subsequently be increased to 2 million pieces within the next three to five years," he said.

Importing 80 per cent of its required raw material from Italy and Germany, the products will also be exported to the European and the American markets.

The company is focusing its current marketing and pricing strategies to cater to the premium segment, unlike in its footwear business which is targeted at the economy segment. The diversification into the sanitary ware business comes in the wake of a rising demand-supply gap in the industry, which is expected to increase manifold by 2007.

Further, the organised sanitary ware segment in the country is growing at 16 per cent per annum.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 15, 2005)
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