Ahmedabad: Personal care products maker Nivea India Pvt. Ltd on Tuesday opened its 850-crore plant at Sanand in Gujarat, its first in the country.

It will help the company raise the development and production capacity for India and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) markets, the Indian affiliate of German personal care major Beiersdorf AG said in a statement.

The 72,000 sq. m. land to build the plant at the Gujarat Industrial Development Corp. (GIDC) industrial park was acquired by the company last year.

While the company did not reveal latest sales figures, in 2013 Nivea India sold about 60-70 million units, importing nearly 60% of this. The company expects to reduce imports by half once the factory goes on stream, its company officials had said during the ground breaking ceremony in June 2014.

Currently, the factory has about 200 employees. The plant has a capacity to produce about 80 million units a year, including creams and lotions in tubes, jars, tins and bottles. The plant will make Nivea and Nivea Men brand products for India and neighbouring countries.

“German companies have been making in India for a long time. Beiersdorf is present since almost a century. And it is great that Beiersdorf now not only invests over 850 crore here in Sanand, but also teams up with authorities to boost skill development—a field where India and Germany are ‘natural partners’, as PM Modi has rightly put it," said Michael Steiner, German Ambassador to India.

The new unit also houses a regional development lab to focus on innovations especially for Indian consumer needs and for catering to neighbouring markets. “The idea is to get closer to the consumer and to respond faster to market needs. We can focus on local insights with greater flexibility and develop products that are suitable for Indian skin care needs. Our aim will be to provide products of the highest quality that are aspirational yet accessible for the growing Indian middle class consumer," said Stefan De Loecker, executive board member, Beiersdorf AG.

Beiersdorf had sales of €6.3 billion in 2014. Nivea is the flagship brand in its portfolio, which also includes brands such as Eucerin, La Prairie, Labello, and Hansaplast. “This is Nivea India’s contribution to the Make in India initiative", said Rakshit Hargave, managing director of Nivea India, highlighting the progress the company has made in India over the last few years.

The skincare and deodorants market in India is about 7,000-7,500 crore, according to the company.

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