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Onida attempts to live up to its tagline 'neighbour's envy, owner's pride'

KOLKATA: Onida, once the second-largest television brand in the country, is making yet another attempt to live up to its iconic tagline 'neighbour's envy, owner's pride' - this time with former LG India director YV Verma at the helm. 

Mirc ElectronicsBSE 6.57 %, owner of Onida, has appointed Verma as its CEO and elevated former CEO G Sundar as director strategy. 

Gulu Mirchandani, chairman and managing director at Mirc, says the new management is mandated to completely revamp the brand's product portfolio to make it youthful and premium. "We would remain affordable," he adds. Trade insiders, however, say it will be difficult for 
OnidaBSE 0.00 % to compete with extremely competitive multinational rivals such as LG, Samsung, Sony, Whirlpool and Panasonic that control more than three-fourths of the country's Rs 40,000-crore electronics market. 

After being one of the top television brands along with BPL and Videocon in the 80s and 90s, Onida, like the other Indian brands, started losing ground to Korean rivals LG and Samsung. Since then Onida has made several attempts to stay relevant in the market and expanded its product portfolio to include air-conditioners, microwave ovens and mobile phones, but it could not make much gains. 

Last fiscal, the company's revenues slipped to Rs 1,292 crore from Rs 1,650 crore in 2011-12 and Rs 1,913 crore in 2010-11. It has posted losses in the last two fiscals. 

Mirchandani, however, is confident that Mirc's latest revival plan will succeed and help Onida grow its market share 2-3 times from its present 6-8% share in flat panel television, air-conditioners and washing machines. 

"The new management has been mandated to make the Onida brand youthful and premium with plans to completely revamp the product portfolio with products based on global design, technology and features suited for Indian consumers," he told ET. 

Mirchandani says Onida has started developing a completely new product portfolio, which would be launched in phases over the next few months. 

He expects Verma - who was among a small group of executives that built LG India from scratch to a Rs 16,000-crore company in 15 years - to revive Onida's fortune. "Verma is one of our biggest asset since he has good execution skill, which is what is required in Mirc," he says. 

Verma says he will focus on rebuilding connections with dealers, after-sales service network and below-the-line activities such as appoint in-store demonstrators and in-store branding. "The focus will be a lot on modern trade and word-of-mouth publicity," he says. 

Verma plans to ready a strategic plan and investment budget to revive Onida within 30-45 days. 

The CEO of a multinational electronics company says Onida's targets are extremely ambitious, considering Indian consumers prefer foreign brands when it comes to technology. "Moreover, the Koreans have retained their edge with Japanese firms like 
Sony and Panasonic becoming hyper-competitive. It's going to be a tough fight," the person says.