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Wipro Consumer Care to focus on topline growth

Our Bureau

Bangalore , April 19

WIPRO Consumer Care and Lighting expects to maintain its operating margins in the range of 14 per cent to 15 per cent, according to the company's President, Mr Vineet Agarwal. "Our main aim now is to grow top line," he said.

Santoor, Chandrika and Milk & Roses — the three soap brands are likely to drive growth in the consumer care segment and commercial institutional business in lighting would also help swell the revenue. Santoor grew by 26 per cent in the fourth quarter of last fiscal and toilet soaps grew by 32 per cent. Top-selling Santoor was also extended into face wash and fairness cream, apart from earlier extension of talcum powder.

Wipro, which has rolled out its Milk & Roses soap in the North, aims to restrict it in the `Hindi belt' for the time being, Mr Agarwal said. Chandrika, the ayurvedic soap brand that Wipro acquired a long-term lease right for use in India and SAARC region, is also seen as a major growth driver.

Scoring good growth rates for the last five straight quarters, Wipro's consumer goods business reported 22 per cent for the full year 2003-04 and 31 per cent for the March quarter.

Profit before tax and interest grew 26 per cent year on year and 27 per cent quarter on quarter. Return on capital employed topped 80 per cent for the last four quarters.

In lighting, the commercial and institutional lighting division reported a 40 per cent growth, marking its presence even in smaller towns, Mr Agarwal said. The spurt in commercial estate constructions in the information technology hubs and retail malls in metros is likely to help Wipro gather more business through internal luminous engagements.

The consumer care division, which is setting up a factory in Himachal Pradesh, expects the plant to go on stream in the second quarter of the current fiscal, Mr Agarwal said.

The plant is likely to be ready by then to produce "noodle to finished soaps," he added. However, he ruled out the possibility of the plant acting as contract manufacturing base for other players in that segment.

The baby care products are moving slowly since it is a "high-priced category," Mr Agarwal said. Among the offerings in that segment, diapers have outpaced other products, he added.

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