Feature

Himalayan Target

The pharma-to-FMCG player is leveraging its herbal equity to gain market share in other categories. Can it win?

Vishal Koul

 

It is rare to find men like Philipe Haydon in India’s corporate world. The fact that he isn’t a promoter but has still put in 37 years with a company makes him one of a kind. He started off as a medical representative and moved up over three decades to become the company’s CEO in 2007. Go deeper and you will discover that within the pharma-to-FMCG herbal company, longevity isn’t the exception; it’s rather the rule. “Barring personal care, all other division heads are people who have spent decades in Himalaya. The biggest advantage is that there is no change in vision or value system,” says Haydon.

The founder family and also chairman Meraj Manal is known to believe that continuity brings progress. And, the company’s progress hasn’t skipped competition’s attention. “On a monthly basis, our chairman gets one or two offers from MNCs to buy Himalaya. But it is not up for sale, it will never be. It will always remain privately held,” Haydon disappoints the prospective buyers. 

Himalaya Drug Company was founded by M Manal in 1934 when he felt that converting the unfriendly powders, mixes, and herbs into tablets can help people take up Ayurveda. Later, when he validated Ayurveda with scientific research, the company also managed to convince medical practitioners to prescribe their medicines, which helped them build their credibility and improve their acceptability Haydon admits that the journey hasn’t been easy, but the legwork paid off. One of its flagship brands, Liv.52, hasbeen a true winner and has been on India’s top 10 OTC drugs’ list for a long time.

The diversification towards personal care and consumer products, seemed like a logical progression. “The transition has been smooth. Healthcare companies have found it easier to get into personal care/FMCG rather than vice versa,” says Haydon. 

Himalaya’s management decided to diversify towards the end of the last millennium. Haydon reminisces, “We were pretty much a pharmaceutical company till 2001 with 98% of our revenue coming from that sector.” Fifteen years later, things definitely look a lot different. Personal care now contributes 45% to overall revenue, pharma chips in 30%, its new divisions, baby care and wellness, bring in 17% and 4% respec

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