P.T. Jyothi Datta

Mumbai, Dec. 24

HE is "still juggling" his act between being a Director with Elder Pharmaceuticals and a successful acting career.

But that does not keep Elder Pharma's Dr Anuj Saxena from charting growth plans for the group's consumer healthcare division.

A division with high brand-recall products such as Tiger Balm and AMPM mouthwash. Dr Saxena told Business Line that the `fast moving health goods' rolled out from the division would become the consumer interface for the parent company, Elder Pharma.

"That is the bigger picture," he said. To become a conglomerate, the estimated Rs 450-crore company will have to look at other areas besides pharma, he added.

Pain management, hair-care, skin and oral-care are some of the segments that Elder's consumer division expects will drive its sales from Rs 30 crore this year to Rs 75 crore in 2007.

The popular Tiger Balm that Elder in-licenses from a Singaporean company and sells in India has been on a low key (in terms of local promotion) over the last five years, as it was fighting copies, he said.

"Flying, jumping, walking... .everything possible was there," he says, referring to the host of spurious products that tried to copy the Tiger Balm brand-name. "The bigger the brand, the bigger the problem," he laments, adding that copies initially eroded about 30 per cent of the brand's sales.

Though the company has got a handle on the problem, he says it still persists in parts. Nevertheless, its promotional spend on Tiger Balm this year was about Rs 6 crore, Dr Saxena said.

Recently, Elder brought in the white formulation of Tiger Balm into the country. And this segment is likely to see more action next year with back-rubs, joint-rubs and plasters being introduced next year. This segment is projected to grow from Rs 12 crore to about Rs 30 crore on the back of these products, he said.

The oral care segment also will see more activity, with AMPM being re-launched. The company would revive, refocus brands that have a strong equity and that did not receive too much attention in the past, he said.

The Rs 2.5-crore mouthwash brand has three versions: normal, smokers and junior. But on the cards are tooth-paste, brushes etc., that will help grow the brand to a Rs 12-crore brand by 2006-07. A major contender for AMPM in the mouthwash category is Listerine from Pfizer.

The company is also looking to extend its association with Shahnaz Hussain. It also plansto introduce shampoos in the hair-care segment. In line with the parent pharma company's philosophy of in-licensing products, this division too looks to bring in products available overseas. And a deal is in the offing with an Australian company in January, he said.

Besides in-licensing products, the division also looks to consolidate its portfolio with products developed by the company's own research department. And while the consumer division is yet to get a name or harbour plans of being spun-off into an independent unit, he said that the promotional spends on its products will continue to be "big time." About 35 per cent of the company's sales, he subsequently quantified.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 25, 2005)
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