Hindustan Unilever (or HUL) is Unilever's main operating business in India. It dominates the local packaged goods sector with an unrivalled presence right across this vast country from urban centres to rural villages. The portfolio now houses 44 brands across a wide range of sectors, a broad mix of international brands and local jewels. The India business is in fact more diversified than any other regional subsidiary of Unilever. Local top-seller is Surf Excel laundry detergent, supported by Wheel and Rin. Combined sales are close to $1bn. Household cleaning products include Vim and Domex. However the group's biggest business overall is personal care, led by Lifebuoy soap and what was until recently the skincare brand known as Fair & Lovely. This was rebranded in 2020 as Glow & Lovely as part of the global backlash against racial stereotypes. Key supporting brands include India's top-selling cosmetics brand Lakme, Dove, Clinic Plus shampoo and Ponds skincare. In addition to FMCG products it is the country's biggest exporter of tea. The company's domestic portfolio is led by Brooke Bond and its sub-brands Taj Mahal, Taaza and 3 Roses. In 2018, the company agreed to acquire malted drink Horlicks - a huge brand in India - as well as other nutritional brands owned by GlaxoSmithKline. That deal completed in April 2020. Another key local jewel is Kissan, the market-leader in jams, ketchup, spreads and soft-drink squashes. Unilever's global ice cream business operates in India as Kwality Wall's. The group also markets water prurifier system Pureit in India. Hindustan Unilever is widely considered to be one of India's best-run businesses. Unlike rival multinationals who tend to target their products at wealthier urban customers, HUL has always made a point of marketing to rural communities with as much vigour as it targets the Indian middle classes. Among its several initiatives is the Shakti project which allows local women to earn their own livelihoods as re-sellers of its products. Another encourages better hygiene in rural villages, especially regular handwashing and good toilet habits. Unilever controls a 67% equity stake in the company, and the remaining shares are publicly quoted in India. Sanjiv Mehta is chairman & managing director. Revenues for the year to Mar 2020 (excluding any contribution from Horlicks) were approx €5.2bn. Beauty & personal care accounted for 44% of revenues and more than half of profits, while home care contributed just over a third of revenues.
Capsule checked 1st September 2020
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Adbrands Daily Update 3rd Dec 2018: Unilever secured the prize in a bidding war for malted drink Horlicks, Boost and other nutritional beverages owned by GlaxoSmithKline. It saw off a rival bid from Nestle. Though Horlicks has only a marginal presence nowadays in Europe, it remains a mammoth brand in India and neighbouring countries with annual sales of around €550m. Under the deal with GSK, Hindustan Unilever will acquire the former's publicly listed local subsidiary GSK Consumer Healthcare India as well as various other operations in India for a combined total consideration of €4.6bn, mostly to be paid in HUL shares.
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