Reckitt Benckiser leads Rs 45 crore investment in Bombay Shaving Company

Shantanu Deshpande, founder CEO of Visage Lines
Reckitt Benckiser, the British multinational consumer goods company, has led a strategic investment round of Rs 45 crore in Visage Lines Personal Care Pvt. Ltd., the owner of the personal care brand Bombay Shaving Company (BSC).

The round also saw participation from individual HNIs (high net-worth individuals) such as Rajesh Sud from Bharti Enterprises, Anjali Bansal founder of Avaana Capital, and Kuldeep Jain, managing director of CleanMax Energy. The investment demonstrates RB’s commitment to innovative, purpose-driven brands and is in line with its strategy to play in new spaces and places.

“Our investment represents a commitment to bring the best of two worlds together, BSC’s expertise in digital-first brands with strong e-commerce capabilities, and RB’s expertise in branding, manufacturing, and global scale,” said Arjun Purkayastha, RB’s senior vice president, e-commerce, digital, and Ventures, who will join the board of Visage Lines board. “Together, this combination of complementary skills sets us up for huge success.”

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the business for BSC, which plans to scale its operations and cross Rs 150 crore top line by the end of this year. “The pandemic has created a few tailwinds and our business now is almost three times what it was pre-Covid,” said Shantanu Deshpande, founder CEO of Visage Lines.

Launched in 2016, BSC has a portfolio of over 100 products across shaving, bath and body, skin, and beard care. RB’s investment will support the company’s plans to scale its operations and provide BSC with access to RB’s global scale, expertise, and mentorship, helping to grow the startup as the leader in personal care for men and women. 

“RB has an excellent record in building health and wellness brands over their 200-years heritage. Working in partnership, our young team is ambitious for what we can achieve together and scale our operations with an omnichannel presence,” said Deshpande.

Deshpande said that RB is known for scaling up small categories such as handwash through Dettol and home cleaning through Lysol and Harpic and made Cherry Blossom shoe polish into a global brand. The capital would also help BSC to expand rapidly in offline retail distribution as the post-Covid footfalls ramp up. BSC has increased its presence to about 14,000 offline stores.

“We realised that offline will still remain 98 per cent of Indian retail. Even if the online retail grows very fast, it still won’t be more than 15 per cent of the retail (in near future). The bulk of consumption would continue to happen offline,” said Deshpande, who is targeting to reach about 50,000 offline stores by the end of the year.

“As we build omnichannel revenue streams we are cognisant that brands will be scaled through strong digital and retail distribution,” said Deepak Gupta, chief business officer at Visage Lines. “Working with strategic partners over the long term will give us significant leverage in establishing ourselves in the Indian consumer ecosystem,” said Gupta.

The new investment in BSC is the fifth round of financing for the company that has been invested in by Sixth Sense Venture Partners, Colgate Palmolive, and noted industry veterans like S Ramadorai former vice-chairman of TCS along with 16 senior partners from McKinsey & Company since inception. In 2019, the company had also created Rs 20 crore of exit for early angels and employees.

The beauty and personal care (BPC) market in India, which stood at $16 billion in 2018, is expected to grow to $22.5 billion by 2022, according to the consulting firm RedSeer. According to experts, the increasing disposable income and a growing young working population are aiding the India men’s grooming products market. Besides traditional players such as Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), BSC is also competing with other startups like Beardo and Ustraa to tap this market.

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