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Cera takes to cricket to reinforce brand

Vinod Mathew

Ahmedabad , Feb. 5

THE Ahmedabad-based Cera Sanitaryware Ltd (CSL) has found salvation in sporting events to push its line of goods, bathroom fixtures. The company, which is looking to make an impact as a stand-alone unit after its makeover from its earlier avatar as Madhusudhan Industries Ltd about a year ago, has taken to cricket in a major way, to mark its presence. The company, in its efforts to build the Cera brand, has chosen to double its advertising spend for the current year which now stands at Rs 2.25 crore.

Meanwhile, Cera's focus on cricket has not led it to forget its core activity. It has roped in the services of Mr Hafeez Contractor, renowned architect, as its first brand ambassador. Cera's association with cricket began with the sponsorship of matches on the ESPN and Star Sports television channels. Cera began to use cricket to reinforce its brand with the highlights of the India-Australia-New Zealand tri-series in October last. While it continues to advertise during the current VB one-day internationals in Australia, it also associated itself with the Pakistan-New Zealand series as well. Mr Vikram Somany, Chairman, CSL, said the company has decided to stick to this gameplan for some more time. "Cera is likely to be a sponsor for the forthcoming India-Pakistan series as well. That does not mean that we as a group would not look at other options. We see the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections as a big chance to push our brand," Mr Somany said.

The sanitaryware company's decision to put itself in the limelight after a good three-four years of dormancy coincides with a conscious plan to step up its trade with China and Korea for bringing in costly bathroom accessories at cheaper rates. It is also looking to launch a higher end product line that includes jacuzzis and shower cubicles, but minus the exorbitant costs. "We are positioned to bring in higher end products mainly from China and trade them at relatively affordable rates in India. Towards this, we are soon posting our own quality control personnel in China to make sure that there will be a value for money quotient. The next one year will see as much as 30 per cent of our sales accruing from the trading route," Mr Somany said. Thus, upmarket bathroom accessories would come at rates from Rs 6,500 toRs 50,000. Similarly, the company is also coming out with shower cubicles beginning at Rs 20,000 and going as high as Rs 3 lakh, where one can look for fixtures such as shower panels and so on as part of the package. The ball has already been set rolling with the launch of bath tubs in January.

The company closed the first nine months with a sales of Rs 38.44 crore and is targeting a turnover of Rs 55 crore for the current fiscal. Coming at a time when the industry is growing at only 7 per cent, Cera is betting to grow three-fold and has its eyes on closing 2004-05 with a topline of Rs 70 crore. The strategy, it says, is in place as it expects almost Rs 25 crore to come from the trading route, with its high visibility campaign ensuring that extra push.

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