Wipro Consumer Care cracks China code as business grows manifold

Vineet Agrawal
Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting has done what not many in this space have been able to crack so far – scaling the Great Wall of China, literally. Even though China is considered a difficult market for Indian brands, not just in consumer goods, but even in information technology (IT), the home-grown FMCG brand, is set to close this financial year with a revenue of $125 million (Rs  8 billion) alone from China, as it crosses the milestone of $1 billion (Rs  64 billion) in revenue.

In the last four quarters of the calendar 2017, Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting has already crossed a revenue of $1 billion with around half of it coming from foreign markets led by Malaysia and China.

While Malaysia used to be the stronghold of Wipro, China has become a strategic market for the Bengaluru-based company, especially after the acquisition of the Guangdong-based FMCG company Zhongshan Ma Er Daily Products in November 2016. The company has a strong presence in South China, especially in the Guangdong province.

“As far as China is concerned, we are perhaps the only Indian FMCG company that has gone there and acquired business in the country,” said Vineet Agrawal, chief executive officer of Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting. “All that we are doing in China is to focus on Guangdong district, and what is quite interesting is that the GDP of that single province is around $1 trillion, which is bigger than most countries. So, if we can dominate two or three provinces there, that will give us a sizeable market.”

Before the acquisition of Zhongshan Ma Er, Wipro Consumer Care was present in China through its acquisition of Unza in 2007 and L D Waxson in 2013. At the time of the Unza acquisition, which Wipro completed in 2007 for $246 million (around Rs 10.1 billion), China was contributing around $10-12 million to its revenues. 

While the Unza business in China has now grown to almost $75 million, the acquisition of Zhongshan Ma Er has given Wipro a strong foothold in bath and shower products, fabric care categories even though its range of personal care brands is Enear, Zici and Vcnic.

In Guangdong itself, Wipro ranks number three in most of the categories in which it operates, such as shower soaps, liquid detergent and roll-ons. “We are there in other districts as well, but 75-80 per cent of our business comes from this province. That gives us the strength to operate,” added Agrawal.

Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting now boasts of around 1,800 employees in China while its overall workforce is around 10,000.

Outside India, Malaysia is the second largest market for Wipro Consumer Care with a revenue of  around $150 million, followed by China, Vietnam (around $75 million), West Asia and Indonesia.

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