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Business News/ Companies / News/  Colgate-Palmolive to launch brands beyond oral and skin care

Colgate-Palmolive to launch brands beyond oral and skin care

Globally, the company sells brands across categories such as personal care (soaps, deo sticks), home care (fabric softeners, dishwashing liquids), pet care and oral care.

Prabha Narasimhan, managing director & CEO, Colgate-Palmolive (India) Ltd. Premium
Prabha Narasimhan, managing director & CEO, Colgate-Palmolive (India) Ltd.

Mumbai: Colgate-Palmolive (India) Ltd is set to launch products from its global portfolio of personal and home care brands, as the consumer goods maker aims to expand its business beyond its core toothpaste and toothbrush categories, its top executive said.

Colgate is India’s largest oral care brand, selling toothpastes, mouth washes, and toothbrushes. The company also sells Palmolive-branded shower gels—a category it entered not too long ago. “We are doing a lot of work internally on other potential categories that we could get in from our global portfolio and over the next couple of quarters, you will see some of that come to fruition," Prabha Narasimhan, managing director and chief executive, Colgate-Palmolive (India), told Mint in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Mumbai.

To be sure, the company globally sells brands across categories such as personal care (soaps, deo sticks), home care (fabric softeners, dishwashing liquids), pet care and oral care. 

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“At this moment we can't comment on the brands, but it will be public domain in just a few months. There are a few things that are in the pipeline and we're considering them. We are looking over and above skin cleansing into the world of personal care and home care that the global company operates in," said Prabha. New launches will be beyond the Palmolive and Colgate brands that the company currently sells in India, she added.

Toothpaste and toothbrush

To be sure, Colgate draws a bulk of its India business from selling toothpastes and toothbrushes. It also has a relatively small but growing shower gel business under the Palmolive brand. In 2022, it launched face foams, gels, face scrubs and masks under Palmolive.

“The parent company has numerous brands, many of which have applicability in India. However, we needed the platform of our core business to be in a robust place to be able to add on new things on top of it. We now believe we're in a position where our core business is in a good place. We have now started with Palmolive and increased the impetus behind it," she said.

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Prabha declined to share Palmolive’s size in India—the business grew at twice the pace of the company’s overall business last year. The company plans to accelerate this pace of growth. "The expectation is that this year we will take it at least to 3x. The body wash category itself is growing at 30% to 40% CAGR; we are a relatively small player. Unlike oral care where it is our job to almost take the entire category with us, in Palmolive, our job is simply to gain share," she said.

Prabha took over the role of CEO and MD at the consumer goods company in 2022, joining from Hindustan Unilever Ltd.

Sales jump

On Tuesday, the company reported a 10.4% year-on-year jump in net sales for the quarter ended March 31, 2024. Net sales increased to 1,480.7 crore from 1,341.7 crore in the year-ago period. Net profit for the period increased 20.1% to 379.8 crore. For the full year ended March 31, 2024, net sales grew 8.8% to 5,644.2 crore from 5,187.9 crore in FY23.

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Meanwhile, Prabha said the company has no plans to launch its pet care business in India, citing lack of “synergies" with its current business. “We have an opportunity to first exploit categories and brands that have we have synergy with," she said.

No acquisitions

Unlike its peers, Colgate has made no acquisitions in India since its over eight-decade-long presence in the country. Prabha said the company is “always" in the market for acquisitions. “We are always in conversations with potential targets and it continues to be an area of focus," she said.

Meanwhile, commenting on demand, she said rural markets grew 200 basis points ahead of urban markets for the company in the March quarter. "The general feeling that things are getting better is rising. The sentiment is certainly getting more positive. A normal to a good monsoon forecast then also aids that sentiment. The second thing is that inflation is really beginning to taper. If you cycle back to maybe a year before, the level of inflation that we had across categories, and it's not just our category, was exceptionally high and therefore the incoming source of funds was not keeping pace with the rate of inflation. People were cutting and titrating and managing," she added.

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Additionally, the company is also reaping benefits from the re-launch of its Colgate Strong Teeth toothpaste brand, especially in rural markets.

On plans to expand capacity, Prabha said the company’s four existing plants in the country have "headroom capacity". “Having said that, the amount of cash and the bottomline that we generate is more than enough to fund any capacity expansion. It is factored into our plans and therefore not a huge concern," she added.

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Suneera Tandon
Suneera Tandon is a New Delhi based reporter covering consumer goods for Mint. Suneera reports on fast moving consumer goods makers, retailers as well as other consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and malls. She is deeply interested in what consumers across urban and rural India buy, wear and eat. Suneera holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi.
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Published: 15 May 2024, 08:31 PM IST
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