It’s not a phrase you will find on Google (we checked). But “socket needs of a home” is what Anil Rai Gupta says his company’s products fulfil and it’s a very apt descriptor. “We now cater to 76% of the socket needs of a home. The idea is to get even deeper into homes,” says the chairman and MD of Havells, one of India’s largest electrical equipment manufacturers. It’s a process that started a decade and a half ago when the Noida-based company, which had a humble beginning in the 1970s as a cable and switchgear maker, decided to transform into a consumer durables player. Over the next 10-12 years, Havells added switches and its portfolio now includes fans, lighting, home and kitchen appliances, personal grooming gadgets and, following the May 2017 acquisition of Lloyd’s consumer durables business, even large appliances such as air-conditioners, LED TVs and washing machines.
The Lloyd’s acquisition is striking for two reasons. One, it demonstrates Havells’ intent to become a significant player across all sections of the consumer durables market. Two, coupled with the divesting last year (sold 80% in December 2015, 20% this year) of global lighting major Sylvania (which it had acquired in March 2007 and turned around through the economic turmoil of 2008), it signals clearly that Havells has shunned its global ambition and is now focusing on India. “We have realised that India is a great market for the next 20-30 years and we would rather use our bandwidth here,” confirms Gupta. It has been quite a transformation but can this change in strategy help it maintain the same momentum going forward?
Even after the start of the new millennium, all that Havells sold was hidden behind walls (cables) or tucked away in dusty corners of commercial and residential buildings (switchgears); the end-customer almost never bought the company’s products themselves. “Our connect with the customer was through intermediaries until 2004,&r