The growth has been gradual with a new entrant Patanjali raising the stakes in the business of Ayurveda. “Patanjali has shaken up the ecosystem. Indirectly, it led to the expansion of the market for ayurvedic products. Garnering even a share of 1 per cent would be significant,” notes Anoop.
Highlighting the pain points, he says, “Demonetisation and GST were hurdles. In June this year, sales plummeted by 40 per cent. Now, we are back to normal and have recouped the losses. This year, we do not expect a major jump but are comfortably placed to achieve our targets,” he adds.
Last year, the AVA Group had entered a 50:50 joint venture with Ambika Pillai, an established celebrity stylist. The partnership has progressed and now, “We have launched 5 products – 2 shampoos, 1 hair oil, 1 hair pack and 1 revitalising cream, under the ‘Kaytra’ brand. The products are available in retail outlets and online on Amazon,” Anoop says. The company has leaned on the social media for all markets except Kerala, where it has launched its new products in 700-odd outlets. It plans to ramp up this number to 2,000 by the end of this fiscal.
Anoop is also taking the Sanjeevanam brand into Kerala by setting up a firstof-its-kind full-fledged 70-bed ayurvedic hospital. “We find that our Sanjeevanam facilities (5 to 6 bed) in the city are doing well but when it comes to Ayurveda – the best destination is Kerala. We will launch it next year. This modern Ayurvedic hospital at Kochi, replete with allopathic and common diagnostics facilities, will be spread over an area of 74,000 sq ft. We have appointed consultants and invited practitioners of Ayurveda there,” he says, and adds that the scope for expansion exists.
Moving on to the subject of the company’s food segment, Anoop says, commencing international operations for brand Melam, based out of Dubai took time, owing to receipt of approvals for packaging and other formalities. “But, now things have stabilised and around 35 Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) of the original 60 SKUs have gotten approved. We started in UAE and are now in Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and have bagged orders from UK too,” he says.
Noting that food business was a tough market to break, he says, “Other brands are strong and competition is not only from Indian players. For instance, Pakistan brand ‘Shan’ has strong presence in Australia too, where I had gone for a market survey. But then, there is brand recall for our masalas. Local players are also competing in the international market. We have priced products at a premium owing to market fluctuations in prices of chillies, used in Melam masalas, which are sourced from AP.”
The group is also betting on a slew of new products, that includes perfumes, still in the research stage. “We have central certifications enabling us to keep innovating on products in the pipeline,” he says. The classic range of Medimix has been the major contributor but this year, the sandal soaps have seen a surge of 40 per cent. Out of a total offtake of 800 tonnes, sandal constitutes 60 tonnes, he adds.