Bottled water major Bisleri International is making a foray into Bangladesh to expand its reach, and this will be the company’s first overseas expansion since this Italian brand was acquired in 1966.
“We are in the midst of starting a plant at Dhaka in Bangladesh. That is yet to start. This will be the first time that Bisleri will venture outside India,” Ramesh Chauhan, Chairman, Bisleri International, told The Hindu.
The timing of the opening of this factory is not known. It requires an investment of Rs.40 to Rs.45 crore to set up a bottled water plant, including the building.
Asked whether Bisleri would be interested to explore the Gulf market, Mr. Chauhan answered in the negative. “We don’t have any plans for the Gulf market, which is very developed (in terms of bottled water business) and we will be the 50th player to be there. It will be very difficult to build the brand. So, we will concentrate on the domestic market, where Bisleri is the category leader,” Mr. Chauhan said.
He said Bisleri had 60 per cent market share in the organised bottled water segment, and would grow 30 per cent year after year. The company is now eyeing a turnover of Rs.1,000 crore in 2004-15. After being acquired for Rs.4 lakh in 1966, the Bisleri brand remained dormant till 1995 when the Chauhans of Parle Group sold their soft drink brands Thums Up, Limca, Gold Sport and Maaza to Coca Cola for $60 million.
“Fortunately, Bisleri was not sold off in the deal. After exiting the soft drink business, I fully concentrated on Bisleri and now here we are. Being the first mover, Bisleri has become the generic name of bottled water,” Mr.Chauhan said.
Currently, Bisleri has 52 plants around the country, and plans to add one plant every month. “This is how we want to bring down the cost. The transportation cost is murderous,” Mr. Chauhan said.
Meanwhile, Chauhan is also popularising Vedica, a premium water brand from Bisleri.
“We started Vedica three years ago. It is pure spring water from the Himalayas. It will take some time for people to understand the value of natural spring water, and we are targeting premium outlets to sell this brand,” Mr. Chauhan added.