Amritanshu Khaitan : Recharging EvereadyForbes India - July 07, 2017

Armed with a sound balance sheet, the MD is leveraging his company's strong brand and distribution network to grow its business beyond batteries

Amritanshu Khaitan, managing director of Eveready Industries India, believes in organic growth, even if it is at a slower pace

We haven't done justice to the Eveready brand over the last 110 years," says Amritanshu Khaitan, managing director of Eveready Industries India, famous for its dry cell batteries and flashlights.

Khaitan's candid yet curious admission is characteristic of the 33-year-old's straightforward and to-the-point manner of speaking, as well as his approach towards business. His statement is interesting because 700 million Indian consumers use Eveready products every year and the company is a leader in the organised market for batteries in India with a 50 percent-plus share. What's more, its extensive distribution network, through which it reaches 3.2 million outlets across India, is only marginally smaller than the 3.6 million outlets covered by fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) major Marico.

So how has justice not been done to the brand? We are sitting in the company's headquarters in south Kolkata's upscale neighbourhood of Rainey Park and Khaitan, a third-generation business leader from the Khaitan family-led by patriarch Brij Mohan Khaitan-explains. According to him, though Eveready has, for over a century, been a powerful and trustworthy consumer brand in India (promoted through iconic ad campaigns like ‘Give Me Red'), restricting itself largely to the Rs 1,500-crore dry cell battery market has meant that even after exploiting its maximum potential in this segment, the scope for future growth remained limited. For fiscal 2017, Eveready, a part of the Williamson Magor (WM) Group (whose businesses range from tea and engineering to consumer goods) reported net sales of Rs1,354 crore, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7 percent since fiscal 2013.

This lack of scale that is purportedly inhibiting the Eveready brand from realising its true potential is what Khaitan-son of Eveready's former chief Deepak Khaitan, who died in 2015-has set out to rectify since

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