Taking advantage of the absence of Nestlé’s Maggi noodles, Patanjali launched its own atta noodles last month.
When a debate about whether or not to allow 100 % FDI in multi-brand retail had cropped up some time ago, Ramdev had put his might behind kirana stores
Most know him as a yoga guru. In recent years, however, he has metamorphosed into a ‘baba’ with a cause — promoting all things swadeshi (domestic).
This drive to promote indigenous products has seen Baba Ramdev, who co-founded Patanjali Ayurved with Acharya Balkrishna in 1997, take to fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) like fish to water.
His motto is simple: Break into the bastion of multinational companies and push Indian products. In this, his firm has achieved success. For 2014-15, the unlisted Patanjali Ayurved recorded revenues of Rs 2,000 crore. And, it is looking to more than double its revenue to Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) this financial year.
Ramdev, who virtually carries the Patanjali brand on his shoulders, has no plans to rest on his laurels; he is brimming with ideas. In an exclusive conversation with Business Standard, Ramdev, 49, said he proposed to go beyond FMCG into textiles, notably khadi.
Ramdev says Patanjali is exploring options of manufacturing and marketing khadi. “We are a debt-free company and are considering diversifying into this area (khadi). This is only the start; there is much more we want to do,” he said.
Experts say Ramdev and his company have the wherewithal to leap into allied areas. They cite the manner in which Patanjali has diversified in the FMCG segment in the past few years to outdo ‘videshis’.
For instance, taking advantage of the absence of Nestlé’s Maggi noodles, Patanjali launched its own atta noodles last month, saying it would also get into health drinks for children with a brand called Powervita, which would compete with the likes of MNC products Bournvita, Complan and Horlicks.
This would be backed by packaged foods such as pasta, oats and cornflakes, all domains of foreign companies.
“Indians should consume Indian products. Why should we allow multinationals to profit at our expense?” he asks. “We want to create a situation in which multinationals are unable to sell anything in India despite their best efforts to do so. We are hoping to give them a headache.”
Investors and consumers are lapping this up. So are partners such as Kishore Biyani, chief executive of Future Group, which tied up with Patanjali on Friday. Ramdev says his decision to partner the Future Group was motivated by its swadeshi origins.
“A swadeshi retail chain is something that excites me in a market where there are videshi chains,” he says, taking a dig at international chains such as Walmart, which have set up shop in India. When a debate about whether or not to allow 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail had cropped up some time ago, Ramdev had put his might behind kirana stores.
His dream, or sadhu ka sapna, as Ramdev’s partner Balkrishna puts it, appears to be materialising.