Godrej steps into hair care with B:Blunt

Viveat Susan Pinto, Business Standard, 26 August 2014

A year after making a 30 per cent investment in salon chain B:Blunt, owned by siblings Adhuna Bhabani Akhtar, wife of Bollywood actor Farhan Akhtar, and Osh Bhabani, the Rs 7,583-crore Godrej Consumer (GCPL) has launched an exclusive range of hair care products under the B:Blunt name.

The range including shampoos, masques, gels and other styling and grooming products marks the first step of GCPL to shift from hair colour into hair care, Nisaba Godrej, executive director, GCPL said in a conversation with Business Standard. Currently available in B:Blunt salons, the products, priced at Rs 500 onwards, will be pushed online as well as into retail stores in the near future as GCPL looks to broaden its footprint. 

The move into hair care is critical since the $ 2.25-billion (or Rs 13,500 crore) Adi Godrej Group (or GILAC, that is, Godrej Industries and Associated Companies) proposes to grow revenues 10-fold in the next 10 years led by its largest group company GCPL. Nisaba, the younger daughter of industrialist Adi Godrej, says GCPL's strategy would be to expand its operations into adjacent categories in its bid to ramp up sales. "From personal wash (soaps) we have expanded into personal care (with Protekt and Cinthol). Similarly with B:Blunt, we move from hair colour into the larger hair care space," Godrej said. 

This category expansion will also see GCPL move into premium spaces largely organically as domestic acquisition targets remain few, Godrej said. "In the premium domestic space there are not many acquisition targets and they are over-valued," she said. "That gives us an opportunity to look at building our portfolio organically, which is what we have been doing over the last few years."

In the last two years alone, GCPL has launched a creme-based hair colour called Godrej Expert at Rs 30, a premium air freshener called aer, a paper-based mosquito repellent called Fast Card at Rs 1 as well as undertaken a relaunch of Cinthol and Godrej Protekt.

According to GCPL MD Vivek Gambhir a third of the company's incremental revenues today come from new launches alone, which is expected to grow in the future.

Nisaba Godrej spearheads a Global Innovation Council at GCPL working closely with company MD Gambhir, sales & marketing head Sunil Kataria, R&D head Sundar Mahadevan besides the country heads of Indonesia, UK, Latin America and Africa. 

Godrej also leads human capital and corporate strategy at the group level and says for the ten by ten strategy to work the group would have to grow at an annual clip of about 26 per cent. 

The group, which has an employee base of 15,000, is expected to increase its headcount to 18,000 in the next three years, half of which will be based in international markets. The 117-year-old group, which will be moving to a brand new office called Godrej One within its Vikhroli campus in Mumbai by the end of this calendar year, has also brought down the average age of its employees from 40 to about 36. "The average age of senior leaders is 45 today from 48-49 years three years ago," Sumit Mitra, group HR & corporate services, Godrej Industries said.