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Eveready eyes air purifiers as appliances find takers(hindu)

KOLKATA: Buoyed by the response to its test-marketing of appliances, battery major Eveready Industries India Ltd is now eyeing newer segments.

``We have already launched items like mixer grinder, juicers, ceiling fans, irons and recently winter appliances like geysers and room heaters and response has been positive”, company managing director Amritanshu Khaitan told The Hindu, adding that the test-marketing has been done in the North and East and `` the entry has been positive for the brand.”

Pointing out that the company was now eyeing the air-purifier segment in which it sees good traction in view of growing air pollution, he said that by 2017-18, EIIL is targetting a contribution of around six per cent from appliances.

Since appliances are mainly discretionary purchases they have been impacted by demonetisation . “Just when they had begun doing well came the demonetisation drive but the recovery is already evident” according to Mr Khaitan.

For some years now EIIL has been trying to diversify its portfolio beyond batteries, flashlights and packet teas. It now has a major presence in the lighting segment riding on the government’s thrust to get into environment-friendly lighting.

``Battery and flashlight business is a strong cash-cow for Eveready—being low investment-high return business and it allows us to diversify into other products for brad extension and greater visbility. This is necessary to make it more relevant to new -age customers and.. for keeping the heritage brand ahead.. “ Mr Khaitan said.

EIIL, which earmarks around five per cent of its sales for brand-promotion is not planning a separate budget for appliances as yet. “ We will do this as we scale up our small-appliances business”, he said adding that a supply-chain, 100 service centres and a distribution team is in place. The manufacturing is through the outsourced mode.

Stung by a rush of battery imports from neighbouring countries and a flashlight demand that fluctuates with the stater of the rural economy, over the last five years, the B M Khaitan group flagship has been trying to derisk its operations by entering other areas.

Mr Khaitan said that by this fiscal, he expected the sales contribution from batteries to decline to 61 per cent from 64 now. Packet-tea too also will see a drop from five per cent now to 4 per cent while lighting share is projected to increase from 21 per cent to 25 per cent . ``We also expect lighting to become a profitable activity from this year,” he said. EOM

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