KOLKATA: Two years into his role as the global CEO of Philips' domestic appliances division, which is part of the company's consumer lifestyle business, Murali Sivaraman is making India a critical part of it, both in terms of revenue and innovation. His goal is to turn India into a global export hub for kitchen appliances and push it up the rankings of Philips' top markets.
However, he's got some challenges to overcome — including currency depreciation in India, which is pushing up product prices and shrinking disposable incomes of consumers. Sivaraman, however, says that's a situation which is not peculiar to India but the entire BRIC bloc (Brazil, Russia, India and China) where Philips' domestic appliances business, which includes kitchen appliances, garment care, air purifiers and floor care, has been growing at a healthy double-digit pace.
Sivaraman acknowledges the currency and economic challenges, but says they don't keep him up at night. "For the huge young consumer base and burgeoning middle-class, aspiration for a better lifestyle is growing. And since the business is to do with products of daily use, consumers will still buy a salad chopper or a rice cooker. Any impact will be short term," he says.
Today, Sivaraman is one of the few Indians who have made it big globally in the consumer electronics space. He's a key member of Philips' top team, with his division becoming the largest contributor to the Dutch major's consumer lifestyle business, after it shed the home entertainment business early this year.
Within months of taking this global role, the business made two acquisitions of kitchen appliance makers —Preethi in India and Povos in China. The division, which used to contribute some 15% to Philips' consumer lifestyle business revenue in 2000, now accounts for more than 45%. Philips under Sivaraman has quadrupled the number of new launches and has recently entered newer markets like Japan with a portfolio of kitchen appliances.
When Sivaraman took charge of Philips IndiaBSE -1.26 % in 2007 as its CEO and MD after spending two decades in ICI, the Dutch company was a troubled one. Sivaraman inducted a spate of senior professionals, undertook two successful acquisitions (Aplha X-Ray Technologies and Meditronics) in the healthcare space and also licensed the television business to VideoconBSE 0.79 %.