AP Tewari has a rich working experience as a professional in cosmetic, herbal, pharmaceutical and allied industries, with immense exposure in MNC’s and PSU’s like Galaxo, HLL etc. Being in the industry for more than two decades, he has strong leadership skills and a vision, which has made him the winner of the India Latexel award twice. Tewari, is today the Vice President of the Delhi based company - Valeda Herbal Private Limited, which has embarked on a consolidation-cum-expansion drive in an effort to transform itself into a Medical Holistic Wellness player rather than just a herbal products manufacturer. In an interview with Nation Next, AP Tewari speaks about the origin, growth and development of Valeda's business, the company's innovative approach for beauty salons, which made its products a global success and his vision for the company.
Excerpts: Valeda is a company, which already provides many products across various segments. You took over as the VP of the company in 2017. What is the company aiming for next?
We want Valeda to be known as Medical Holistic Wellness Company with our goal being to keep our consumers healthy from head to heel. Our aim is to spread medical wellness in every home through Valeda Holistic Wellness Plan, which is already functional on our portal as Valeda Wellness Product Plan and Valeda Wellness Procedure Plan. While the product plan is further divided into skin care, hair care and body care, the procedure plan has functional segments as constitutional diet/medicines, divine detoxification and relaxation as three essential pillars of holistic wellness. In the next ten years, we want to achieve $1 billion revenues (Rs 6110 crore), half of which will come from overseas and institutional sales and the remaining half from domestic and direct marketing sales.
What made Valeda shift its focus from being a herbal company to being a medical holistic wellness company?
Until 1988-89, Valeda was just a single division herbal company. Then, in 1990, we launched our personal care products under the brand name Valeda Herbal. The first few years were a struggle as there was a disconnect among the consumers about the image of Valeda Herbal. Some consumers perceived Valeda as herbal product based company only, while some perceived it as elite branded company. There were hardly any consumers who were aware of the fact that the formulations were being developed towards being a medical holistic wellness company by a team of doctors headed by Dr Seema Bali, MD, who herself is an authority on medical holistic wellness and is also one of the present directors of the company. We always had products like hair oils, shampoos, face packs, lotions and creams and distributed them among our own medical wellness centers internally with a prime objective of providing best possible skin and hair care. In the year 2004, we felt that it was the right time to take them to consumers and brought them under Valeda Herbal Private Limited, although the actual take off had already happened in the year 1990 only.
Being a wholesome medical holistic wellness company will need extraordinary transformation in production and distribution capacities. How is Valeda moving in that direction?
We are planning to increase our manpower strength to 600 within three months and around 1000 by the end of the financial year 2017-18. Today, we have 183 products across four main business verticals (such as International Business, Institutional Business, etc.) and we cater to around 5500 army CSD canteens, police canteens, saloons, personal care and baby care outlets and we are also involved in direct marketing. We are set to achieve a turnover of Rs 500 crores by the end of the financial year 2017-18 and we aim to achieve a turnover of Rs 6110 crores by 2027. Currently our brand value for 183 products is around Rs 2000 crores. The main strategy that we will be following to achieve this benchmark, is to further strengthen our international business, institutional business of our CSD and police canteens and augmenting the growth of our direct marketing. We will also be focusing on acquisitions, strategic alliances, floating of equity by means of both FDI and domestic investments.
What is the share of international and institutional business at Valeda?
International and institutional segments contribute 38% each to our total business currently. The other two divisions - salon and direct marketing - account for 8% and 4% respectively. The rest of the business comes from the digital marketing business. Today we sell our products in 22 countries like the USA, Switzerland, Cyprus, South Korea, countries in South East Asia, West Indies, UAE, Mauritius, Hong Kong, Nepal, etc. When it comes to digital marketing, we have strongly registered our presence in all the leading online retail portals like Amazon, Flipkart, Ebay, Indiamart, Alibaba Group, etc. However in the long run, we expect international and institutional business to account for about 50% of our total sales in next five years.
As of now, where does Valeda Herbal stand in the herbal, personal care or FMCG space?
Valeda Herbal is still a baby in the FMCG segment. But in a short time, some of our products have become very popular. One of our products - Neem Instant Skin Conditioner - is a market leader with a major share in the multipurpose skin pack category. We have sufficient share in the face packs and face scrubs market as well. We have recently entered the men's category by launching many new products. Overall, our FMCG products business is growing at a tremendous pace annually. We are planning to aggressively expand our business in salons across India by our innovative program called Valeda Beauty Consultant program.
What is the roadmap ahead to achieve this target?
We are embarking on consolidation and expansion program for every product segment. In the recent years, we have established market leadership in some of the product like women’s face wash and baby care products. As I said earlier, we have recently entered the men’s grooming products segment, which we wish to consolidate further and expand the product range. We are also expanding our offerings in the salon segment. To achieve this target, we need to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of many folds. We are currently growing at 85% annually and in some products the growth is even at 100%. Even if we don’t sustain this growth, we are sure of achieving 70-80% growth every year. In personal care products, we are growing at 120%. Internationally, in the institutional and salon segments we are growing at 115%, 145% and 130% respectively. We have recently created a new vertical for salon serviced by our expert Wellness Field Executives and backed up by a team of telesales executives and doctors under this segment.
How strong is Valeda's research and development division and what are the new products you are working on?
Research is one of our core strengths and we conduct at least five years of research before introducing any new product. Currently, we have many scientists and doctors under the leadership of Dr Peter Hug (a scientist from USA and an expert in Nanotechnology and Lipids) Dr. Anu Puri (scientist and an expert in Nanotechnology and Lipids at NIH USA), Alka Bhalla (manufacturing pharmacist in Canada), Rajesh Bali (an international cosmetologist, herbologist, biochemist, alcohol technologist and the recipient of Man of Millennium Award, Maniyar Award, Pride of the Country Award, Udyog Bhushan Award, International Ayurvedic Award, etc.) and Dr Seema Bali (an eminent skin and hair expert and recipient of Global Millennium Award, Bhartiya Ratna Award etc.) engaged in research and development and many new products are in the research pipeline. We are in advanced stages of developing new range of products in the skin and hair care segment. In personal care segment as well, we want to launch several new products in order to establish and distinguish our position in the skin and hair care business.
As a part of their mission to serve the humanity the group of Valeda scientista and technocrats have envisaged the thoughts of gifting the man kind with innovations par excellence, more particularly in skin and hair Care. Some of lines of our work are as under:
Diagnostics development of electrochemical nanobiosensor unit equipped with a gold nanolayered nanoporous membrane: This cost effective portable device shall rapidly detect the presence and type of pathogens on the clients seeking cosmetology procedures, thus providing required safety maneuverability to the cosmetologist working on the client. The invention shall be a boon for hypo-allergic skin types.
Further in the Diagnostics department, Valeda plans to develop new photosensitizing compounds used to identify skin pigments through medical imaging and treat the hyper and hypopigmentation in skin by a ‘see and treat’ approach. The inventions when complete will help to overcome the conventional diagnostics of ‘Woods Lamp’ and shall help deliver focused therapy at targeted sites.
Valeda is aware of trillion dollar industry of unwanted hair removal based on useless gadgets world wide. Nothing much has been innovated since 1995 when the world’s first LASER hair removal got marketing approval by US FDA. Today the industry thrives on ambiguous term of ‘permanent hair reduction’ attained by photo depilation. The scientists at Valeda see massive potential in developing fast devices aimed instead at ‘photo epilation’ by focused delivery of maneuvered energy to coagulate lower two third of hair follicle. Valeda is already practicing probe epilation by focused delivery of desired radio waves and electro chemical reactions by use of miniature electrodes.
The scientific workers at Valeda are already in process of seeking international contributions/ sharing IP on developmental issues, futuristic plans, Biotech Park and several other aspects of biotechnology thrust areas.
Valeda is committed to continue deploying, using, utilizing the biotechnology as an important mode for Skin and Hair Care by harping upon Indian bio resources. It has already invented unparalleled products like ‘Valeda Herbal Neem Instant Skin Conditioner’, Neem Beauty Grains, Face Packs, Hair Tonics just to name a few. The thrust continues for inventions in the line.