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Demand for health and hygiene products due to the pandemic is benefiting several brands, including ITC Ltd’s Savlon, which is expected to touch 1,000 crore in consumer spends this fiscal year, making it the largest brand in the company’s personal care products portfolio, a top company executive said on Wednesday.

“All in all, we would be disappointed if we don’t make it (Savlon) to at least a 1,000 crore consumer spends this year," Sameer Satpathy, chief executive, personal care products business division, ITC, said at a virtual press conference.

ITC’s acknowledgement of Savlon’s growth comes after a minority shareholder, Manu Rishi Guptha, in a 5 October blog post, questioned the company’s FMCG acquisitions, including Savlon, B-Natural and Sunrise (spices), and the amount spent on acquiring them.

The blog was circulated on social media earlier this week.

The company’s personal care portfolio comprises brands such as Vivel, Engage Deodorants, Nimyle (a herbal floor cleaner that it had acquired in 2018), Charmis cream and Dermafique.

If ITC achieves the sales forecast for Savlon, it will overtake Vivel as the largest brand under the personal care products portfolio. For the year ended 31 March, Vivel touched 500 crore in consumer spends.

While demand for personal care products has slowed since March as consumers remained indoors, the pandemic has put health and hygiene products in the spotlight. This has benefited the likes of Reckitt Benckiser-owned Dettol and ITC’s Savlon.

ITC acquired Savlon from Johnson & Johnson in 2015, marking its foray into the disinfectant and antiseptic products market. Last fiscal, it crossed 250 crore in consumer spends, and also later extended Savlon to the hand wash and sanitizer categories.

Savlon has so far remained a relatively small brand compared with Hindustan Unilever Ltd’s Lifebuoy and RB’s Dettol in the soaps category. Since April, Savlon introduced eight to nine products across surface disinfectant and wipes, and a new range of sanitizers to capture demand during the pandemic, but this could cool off eventually.

“Because we have been innovating and were the first to market with a lot of things, the margins are better. The acquisition has not only grown top line but also grown bottom line very well," said Satpathy.

ITC, which has picked up brands such as B-Natural, Nimyle and Sunrise brand of spices, says it remains open to mopping up more brands in the market. “We are looking at acquisitions, right. A large part of our (personal care) business is hygiene. So, it is natural that people who have brands to sell come and talk to us. So, on and off, there is something or the other going on. It should fit in and our long-term goal in the portfolio," he added.

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