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Cover Story
As Shatter-Proof as Ever!
Women have broken a lot of Gender Barriers in Society, But The Glass ceiling is not Exactly in that List Yet
Issue Date - 17/03/2011
It’s Now Time for Africa!
It took her over two decades to develop India’s largest wellness brand. Now Vandana Luthra aspires to make vlcc a Rs.50 billion brand by 2012. will she be able to overcome the growth challenges?

Just like fitness and beauty, high aspirations have been synonymous with VLCC and its founder Vandana Luthra ever since the first centre was formed. Within a span of over two decades, the company has set up some 225 outlets across 90 cities in India and 15 outlets overseas, which contribute 65% to VLCC’s total turnover. Today, with a sturdy team of 7,000 people (of which 2/3rds are specialists), VLCC has already served over 10 million customers. Yet for Vandana, who calls herself an entrepreneur and an educator, the mission is anything but complete. Since the last three years, the company has been investing Rs.1 billion on an average every year for expansions. On the anvil are forays into more smaller and remote towns in India and global markets like Africa & even UK. Her express aim is to “make VLCC a Rs.50 billion brand by 2012.”

In fact, this passion provides her with a definite edge over arch rival Shahnaz Husain. She’s also increasingly tying up with institutional buyers. While Shahnaz and other FMCG behemoths like Marico have kept their beauty business limited to beauty salons and retail, her B2B initiative is exemplary.

Surely, when she plans her sojourn to new markets, she’ll have to take into account that her value proposition of a slimming venture is not as strong as Shahnaz Husain’s flank of Ayurveda, which counts as India’s unique offering. However, Vandana strictly denies being bogged down, “The demand for such products & services is always there. Everyone wants to remain in perfect shape and not every organisation can keep you in perfect shape.” She sticks by the perfection mantra even with her company. VLCC is the only organisation in the segment to get an annual audit done by Ernst & Young. She believes that such transparency can only be implemented when you have a woman as the managing authority. One point her detractors do make however, is that she has talked about launching an IPO for quite a while, but that has not yet materialised. Her rationale is that they are now focussing on the VC route at the moment (VLCC has raised Rs.1 billion recently from two investors). In essence, crossing that rubicon could still take a while, and VLCC would have to count on the options they have for now.

By : Angshuman Paul

Moving on The Fast Lane
22 Brands & 22 Entities across 9 specialised Functions, that’s how Madison world has grown so far. And now the aim is to become a Communication Conglomerate. A key character in its Future Plans, Lara balsara, BD & Diversification manager, shares her visions

Some say that it is easy for those who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. At 31, Lara Balsara, Business Development & Diversification Manager of Madison World can tell you how opposite the whole scenario is. Daughter of Sam Balsara, Chairman & Managing Director, Madison World, she started her career at Madison as a Management Trainee in 2004. Three years hence, she was promoted to the post of ‘Business Development & Diversification Manager’, the post that she has been heading for the past four years now. Starting 2007, the Marketing post graduate from UK, took up the task of expanding the ambit of Madison World, which literally meant converting an advertising company into a communication conglomerate.

Madison, then was seen more as a media company, but they already had some other businesses in creative side (Madison Communications) and PR (Madison PR) and outdoor, like Anugrah – their advertising venture in the rural sector. Shares the younger Balsara, “But our challenge was to project Madison as a communication company and not a media company. What we tried to do is position, and broaden the concept of Madison World, as a group brand, so that the other companies continue to be a part of it, like its sub brands.” Madison World emerged as the corporate group and everything under it like BMB Advertising, Madison Media, Madison PR, Mediacom, Anugrah Madison, Madison Retail, Outdoor, Platinum outdoor, and Moms (OOH Agency) continued to meet the communication needs of its clients.

Balsara clarifies at every point that the success of Madison in emerging as a single brand standing for all its sub brands, is a team effort and no single individual is solely responsible for Madison World’s success and growth. And there is not an iota of doubt that Madison has grown in leaps and bounds collectively as a brand. In 2008, Madison Media had won a sizeable business of Rs.3.25 billion and clients like Indian Oil, Max New York Life Insurance, Spice Jet, Bharti Retail and Bharti DTH.

In the same year, Sam Balsara acquired 51% stake in WPP’s Medicom, in its Indian Operations. By the end of the year, Madison World, which now employs over 500 communication personnels spread across seven cities in India, had established itself as one of the largest communication conglomerate in India with international operations in Sri Lanka and Thailand and a gross media billing of over Rs.20 billion. In fact, by the beginning of the current fiscal, Madison Media (media unit of Madison World) stood at a whopping Rs.23 billion with a bag full of big clients like ITC, Airtel, Britannia, Godrej, Cadbury and Coca Cola. For that matter, to handle ITC’s needs, Madison has set up a different organisation altogether called Crest. In addition to the growth and expansion, Madison World has recently launched BMB in India and have significant plans to leverage on that joint venture.


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