Dec 17, 2012, 03.10 PM | Source: CNBC-TV18

Reckitt Benckiser aims to launch 19 power brands world over

In an interview to CNBC-TV18’s Forbes India Show, Rakesh Kapoor, chief executive officer, Reckitt Benckiser explains the progress the company has made so far and how his journey has been till date.

Our purpose was having healthier lives and happier homes.

Rakesh Kapoor


Reckitt Benckiser

In an interview to CNBC-TV18’s Forbes India Show, Rakesh Kapoor, chief executive officer, Reckitt Benckiser explains the progress the company has made so far and how his journey has been till date. Kapoor started the company Reckitt Colman in India 25 years ago. Reckitt Benckiser is more commonly found in everybody’s homes as different brands like Dettol, Strepsils, Harpic, Cherry Blossom, which is now "Cherry" Charlie, Durex, Vanish, Airwick.

Q: You are having more and more Indians heading global companies, but when you joined Reckitt Colman, 25 years ago, did you think you will rise up to this?

A: You don’t think about your career in so many steps. You think about your career one step at a time and you can only do that provided, you do a great job at what you have been dealt with. So, I never thought about 10 steps in my life. I just thought of about the job I had at that time and tried to do it the best way I could. That took me to the next job and so on and so forth.

Q: You took over from Bart Becht, a man who is credited with really pushing Reckitt Benckiser into the big league with a number of acquisitions and that was the DNA. You took over Boots and Adams in which you are pretty closely involved. But is that time over? Is it consolidation time? Or are you still scouting out?

A: Although, we have some pretty interesting acquisitions over the last many years, but the whole story of Reckitt Benckiser is one of organic growth. If you strip out all the acquisitions the last decade has produced a growth rate on a compounded basis of 7 percent per annum. That puts us at the top of the league in our industry. So, I think acquisitions have played a role, but Reckitt continues to be an organic growth story first and foremost.

We bought some brands both in India with Paras and in North America with Schiff. All of these play a role, but by and large the story still will be an organic growth story.

Q: Your site says, by 2020 you would like to atleast double revenues and you would like to see your power brands driving this. In India other companies have tried, the concept of power brand, but haven’t quite succeeded. How do you define a power brand and can you have a set of power brands that will work across geographies, in a developing market as well as in developed markets?

A: Earlier this year, just a few months after I had taken over as CEO, we decided that we needed to reshape the strategy of this company to be successful in the next decade. I just talked about how successful we have been in the last decade. We were one of the best-performing stories in our industry and clearly it is important for us to think about how we want to be successful in the next decade. Apart from that- thinking through the strategy was to really go back to the basics and the basics of who we wanted to be as a company, what we wanted to stand for and the purpose of this company .

Our purpose was having healthier lives and happier homes and I would like to explain the whole thing about power brands in the context of healthier lives and happier homes. That’s the reason why we created three planks or three platforms for our portfolio- health, hygiene and home. Now they also are connected. They seem like three discrete platforms, but to my mind, they are all connected. They are connected because you do need good hygiene to have good health and a healthier home is a happier home. We can unite the whole portfolio of our power brands within the umbrella of health, hygiene and home. We have 19 power brands around the world. So, there are some brands that provide hygiene; Dettol is a great example of that. You can wash your hands and keep them hygienically clean. You can keep your surfaces clean and hygienically clean.

Q: However, these 19 power brands are equally powerful all over the world. Or do you decide that in a particular country you will focus on one brand and another country, you’ll focus on some other brand?

A: Our ultimate goal is to have 19 power brands in all the countries. Now it is true that at this stage we do not have 19 power brands in every country, certainly not in India, the United States or in the United Kingdom (UK). And that offers us a tremendous opportunity to expand our power brand portfolio over time. That is something we call white space opportunities.

Q: When you say expand, do you mean expanding your existing 19 brands in all geographies or expand into other power brands as well?

A: Our first objective, which is called the organic story, is to take these 19 power brands and make them successful everywhere in the world. For example, in India in the last couple of years, we have launched Mucinex. We have launched Gaviscon and ofcourse Vanish a couple of years before that. So, we do take our power brands and take them into different parts of the world. We have just launched Vanish in test markets in China. So, these are things that we want to do. We believe 19 power brands can be important and successful in every market that we operate in the world.

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