Chennai's Asian Health & Nutri Foods Limited has turned a new leaf… starting from its name, corporate strategies, product branding, its corporate office and its team of professionals.
Formerly known as Asian Dhall Industries Limited, the Rs106-crore turnover company recently changed its name to reflect its new focus... restaurants, snack foods and ready to cook-'n-eat products.
To start with the company in its new incarnation is repositioning its Jeyyam brand as Jeyyam Gold and will add urad and moong dals (pulses) to its current portfolio of fried and chutney and toor dal. The idea is to reverse the sales mix of 60-per cent bulk and 40-per cent branded dals.
Asian Health is also expanding its geographical presence to the four Southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala by setting up 17 plants and 500 procurement centers for pulses. This is expected to remove the five distribution layers between the farmer and the company resulting in economies. Presently Asian Health sources raw dal from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The company also plans to open around 250 Dhall Malls that would stock and sell various kinds of pulses.
"The idea behind all these is to take this company to Rs500-crore turnover by 2010," says K Saravanan, chairman and managing director.
But how does a restaurant chain fit in with the company's core business of selling branded pulses? Says joint managing director, R Jayaseelan, "What we are looking at is a fast food sort of a joint where snacks and side dishes are prepared using our pulses." This way he hopes there will be a positive rub off on the company's Jeyyam brands.
Though the corporate plan is to have 100 such eateries, the company will initially experiment the concept with up to five such eating-houses.
Speaking about value added products Jayaseelan says the company will be launching different variants of Bengal gram flour that are suitable for sweets and savouries.
On competition from other branded pulses and in-store brands of retail chains he says, "Some are present in certain pockets and some do not have their own processing plant resulting inconsistency in quality."
What is unique about Jeyyam toor dal is, that the pulse is whole, with no split pieces. The company has sourced the soft touch process technology from Central Food Technological Research Insitute, Mysore, to remove the skin and husk without affecting its nutritional value. The company claims that the quantity of toor dal required for cooking will be less compared to the quantity required for traditional broken dal.
The company is investing around Rs100 crore on its new plans. The company will be using the $8-million investment made by SB Asia Infrastructure Fund (SAIF) a private equity fund, apart from raising debt Rs15 crore and internal accruals of Rs50 crore. Its net profit is arounf 4-5 per cent of turnover.
"At the time of investing last year SAIF had valued the company at Rs100 crore and took 25-per cent stake," remarks Saravanan.
Meanwhile, Asian Health will be looking at the institutional segments-hotels, hostels, factory / company canteens and others to boost its sale. The company markets pulses and Pulse products (fried pulses, toor and Bengal gram flour) under the Jeyyam brand.
Though the company sold nearly 60 per cent of its product in bulk - the balance is branded - till date it didn't look at this segment in a serious manner.
According to Jayaseelan, institutions like hostels, hotels and canteens would provide a stable business, as their requirement would not fluctuate. "A separate team has been formed to look at this segment. From July this year we will be active in this market."
He also agrees that it is going to be a touch challenge to make the institutions switch immediately. "It will take some time. But once they understand our value proposition lower usage of pulse and quality product, they will surely make the move," he says.