One new geography launch every year; says Britannia MD
There is no shortage of challenges for a well established company looking to expand across the international stage, but a dedication to consumers and in-depth research on their needs has proven to be a key factor for success, said Varun Berry, managing director of Britannia Industries. Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Gulfood 2019 exhibition, Berry highlighted the company’s plans to evolve into a global total foods company. This will involve a strategic plan to enter one new geography every year for the next few years. “As a company, we are looking at a very different footprint. We used to be an India-based company, and our focus was on expanding our footprint within India. A couple of years ago, we decided that our vision is to be present in more countries around the world. About 11 years back, we made our investment in the Middle East – in Dubai and in Oman. We are happy with where we are at today; but, our objective now is to expand our footprint. Today, we are present in 72 countries, but in most of them, we cater predominantly to the Indian diaspora; we are looking to cater to the local populations as well.”
“Our next stop has been a $9 million factory in Nepal,” he added. “After this, we have five more countries that we have shortlisted for our global expansion. These include Bangladesh, Myanmar, Egypt, and Nigeria. We are looking to either set up production facilities in these countries, or we are looking for opportunities for any other form of partnership such as joint ventures, contract packing or technical collaborations. We estimate around $10 million to $12 million for investments in a factory when we set up in these countries. Our vision right now is getting into one new country every year. We have set such a target because if we don’t have such targets, then we will keep drifting. This year, we have Nepal; right now, the facility is already working on trial productions, and we expect to start commercial productions in another month.”
Asked if consumers can expect to see the launch of any new brands, he said: “There is definitely a sort of magic in brands that makes them connect with people. We are a 100 year company that has done reasonably well from a brand standpoint, so there won’t be any changes there. But, when it comes to products? Certainly, we want to explore ideas for products that will cater to that tastes of the local population. You have to pay very close attention and do your market research, because what is popular in one country might not be that popular in another. Some consumers prefer cracker type biscuits, while others favour a very rich cookie form.”
The future, he said, belongs to the sharing economy, and those companies that are very clear abut their own capabilities. A slow and steady approach is usually safer and will work over grand plans that invite lots of risk.