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David of Charosa challenges Sula of Dindori

Posted: Thursday, 06 March 2014 11:07

David of Charosa challenges Goliath of Dindori

Mar 06: After successful entry in Mumbai in January and Goa a week ago, the Ajit Gulabchand promoted Charosa Winery launched their range of wines in Pune on Monday with a bold announcement that it is aggressively targeting to be the market leader in the super premium and premium wine segment in the country over the next three years, implicitly displacing Sula as the market leader.

The company’s vineyards are spread over approximately 230 acres at Charosa village in the Tahluka of Dindori in Nashik district whereas Sula has a major chunk of the vineyards in Dindori village. The company has introduced their range of Charosa Reserve Tempranillo, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Charosa Selections Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz and Viognier, Charosa Pleasures Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Shiraz. It plans a Pan-India presence and by October this year it plans to enter Delhi, Chandigarh, West Bengal, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

The new company, which has invested over Rs 100 crore (Rs.1 billion) in the Charosa Vineyards in the Nashik district in Maharashtra, is also a wholly owned subsidiary of Hindustan Construction Company, led by the affluent wine connoisseur Ajit Gulabchand.

“The wine industry is growing faster than any other alcoholic beverage in India and the wine market has emerged in the last 20 years. Keeping this in mind, our wines will cater to both the premium and semi-premium segment which will meet the consumer demand in the market,” said Parag Kamat, chief operating officer (COO), Charosa Wineries at the launch.

“With an international standard and quality, we are targeting to be India’s number one wine brand in the country over the next three years,” Kamat said. He said the company had an aggressive sales plan to go pan-India over the next five-six months.

The Charosa Wines are priced between Rs 500 and Rs1,500. According to Kamat, currently India consumes 1.2 million cases of the locally manufactured product annually, plus 200,000 cases of imported wine- considered a rather conservative estimate.

David vs.Goliath

In the ensuing battle between David and Goliath, opinions about who is David and who is Goliath would be divided. The owners of Charosa Wineries, the industry scion Ajit Gulabchand’s HCC group, is a large group with annual revenues of Rs.8157 crores (US $ 1.3 billion). Although he has been in the news for the last few years for his pet Lavasa township project being stalled due to environmental issues, HCC is in fact, truly the Goliath of the Indian industry and Sula which was barely a start-up and some even considered them perhaps as upstarts, would be the David. But managing the wine industry is not about corporate muscles and financial acumen, as the erstwhile leaders Indage Vintners found to their chagrin 4 years ago.

Charosa Winery of the HCC group would be classified as the David of the wine industry in which Sula is the Goliath.  As Rishi Vohra, our Mumbai correspondent surmised in his article in delWine on 24 January, 2014 after attending the Launch of Charosa Wines,  ‘Charosa seems to have got it right and their ten-year strategy could well propel them to the forefront of the Indian wine industry, purely on quality.’

That might happen, if the astute business man, Rajeev Samant, goofs up somewhere like Indage or sells off his shares at the ever increasing premium and loses control of the company and shifts to Goa! But it would be nice to see another competitor staking claim in the arena along with the likes of Grover, Four Seasons and Fratelli in ten-not three years as Kamat has so boldly and vocally declared.

For another related earlier article, please visit Charosa ready to churn out Wines from Charosa

Subhash Arora

Tags: Ajit Gulabchand, Charosa Winery, Charosa, Nashik, HCC, Sula


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