Apr 04 : After marketing on its own for a year, Nirvana Biosys, the Haryana based wine manufacturer located around 80 kms from Delhi has appointed the Delhi-based wine importers, Natures Bounty on an exclusive basis for domestic and export marketing according to a company release with a reported objective to quadruple their sales four-fold during the next fiscal year 2012-13.
The company manufacturers several variants of wine from the imported grape juice in collaboration with a Mauritius-based company EC Oxenham & Co owned by a French family settled there. It also makes fruit wines from lychees and is about to launch mango wines. Natures Bounty has been importing affordable wines from Australia, South Africa and Italy and Germany which includes the ubiquitous wine of yesteryear, Blue Nun.
The company has carved a niche for itself in the Delhi market where it came from the cold and secured the number two position within a year, taking advantage of the schism in the marketing set up of the runner-up, Grover Vineyards. Apparently taking a leaf out of the book of Indage Vintner’s aggressive marketing policies, Luca has been able to make inroads into the retail market, stand alone restaurants and banquets reaching a level of around 9500 cases sold in Delhi against the sale of 33,000 cases by the leader, Sula Vineyards.
The company achieved sales of around 20,000 cases last year resulting in a sales of around Rs.70 million. It plans to target Rs.400 million next year, by adding new wines including herbal wines and entering new territories pan India. Despite its enviable performance in Delhi, it is far from that of Grover, Four Seasons and Nine Hills which were way ahead of it on a national level and may not feel threatened to be overtaken by it for a while.
The agreement with Natures Bounty is expected to cross 100,000 cases a year, based on their projections released. The company deserves an E for Effort and A for Ambition. But targeting a 5-fold increase may not be feasible, even when they don’t have to worry about grape supply like the Nashik producers ; it imports grape juice at low import duties and sells with practically no excise duty. The company may have higher profitability at the selling price of Rs.250-800 a bottle, but it invests it back in market promotion to get the brand image stronger.
‘We are happy that we have built up an image where the customers now ask for the brand while buying or ordering in a restaurant,’ says M K Rustagi, Joint Managing Director of Nirvana. But the company is also realistic enough to realize that they could not compete with producers in other countries like Italy in grape wine so they decided to concentrate on research regarding Lychee wines which despite their high price of around Rs.800 a bottle, seem to have found a good enquiry in Japan. Recently in Canada where it was one of the wineries showcased for an event organized by the Indian High Commission in the Capital, Ottawa through IGPB, the fruit wines were well liked.
Their label Luca has already found shelf space in around 1100 stores in 11 states including Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Rajasthan, UP, Andhra and Karnataka, according to Rustagi. It plans to enter Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry soon. Internationally, it is already present in Japan, Dubai, Hong Kong and Nigeria with serious enquiries from Canada where the company claims the lychee wine has delighted the wine drinkers. A German importer has apparently shown interest in importing this wine in bulk to reduce costs.
‘With the support and reach of Natures Bounty, Nirvana is all set to become a leading wine company in India,’ claims Rustagi. This may not be as easy as being number two in Delhi. Grover is planning a sales of 120,000 cases a year after its proposed merger with Zampa goes through in a couple of months and should have not much difficulty in crossing at least 90,000-100,000 cases with their plans. The third and fourth in the ranking, Four Seasons and Nine Hills have their own dreams, making the job not so simple.
The management of Nirvana Biosys is quite pro-active, however and avid readers of delWine. Rustagi says, ‘our MD, Dr. J.P. Gupta and I read your delWine immediately as we receive it. After your article on ‘Bathinda may become Nashik of Wines from Punjab’, we contacted the Punjab government and hope to meet Mr. Sukhbir Badal in April to discuss the possibility of setting up a unit there. We also noticed from delWine that Grover Zampa merger is going through and they will become more formidable as competition. But our strength is the lychee and mango fruit wine the technology of which we have developed after 3 years of research and we are sure to reach the top one day.’
The record of collaborative efforts of Indian wine industry and importers have resulted in a divorce-the latest one being the Grover-Brindco marriage. Chateau d’Ori tried with FineWinesNmore and later with Amfora with no success and today it is languishing despite the initial promise of quality wines. Aspri collaborated with Indus without getting them increased market share. Fratelli started with FWM with a big bang as a distributor for Maharashtra but has reversed gear to keep it for logistics support only and that too in Mumbai.
Although Rustagi is unwilling to comment on it but there is a distinct policy that Natures Bounty may enter as an investor as a later date. Owned by Amit Burman, the Vice Chairman of Dabur group, the wine business so far has been a miniscule part of his burgeoning hospitality business. The annual sales of around 5000 cases a year* make them an insignificant player and that too in the low end wines. With India reported to be heading towards being the biggest economy in the world by 2050, wine industry is expected to enter the bull phase sooner or later and Burman could have the blue print for being a significant player one day and Nirvana could be a vehicle.
Watch this space for their annual performance after this collaboration between Nirvana and Natures Bounty and how they take on the coupling of Grover and Zampa, and the result of their efforts to set up another venture in Bathinda.
For an earlier article on Nirvana, read
Attain Sweet Nirvana with Lychee Wine
- * Based on an extensive Study carried out by the Indian Wine Academy, Top Ten Importers 2012, to be published soon in delWine