By 22 January, 2010

Global brewing giant Carlsberg's India Managing Director Pradeep Gidwani is moving on to become an entrepreneur. Gidwani is leaving the company after a two-and-half year stint during which Carlsberg staked claim to be the fastest growing international beer maker in India.

"I have quit Carlsberg after a hectic stint, and I am evaluating an entrepreneurial venture. It is very early days to talk anything further. I have been an entrepreneur at heart and have developed businesses from almost scratch," Gidwani said.

Gidwani stabilized Carlsberg's Indian presence after he took charge of operations in its early days. The brewer appears to have closed 2009 with volume sales of 5.6 million cases, marking one of the fastest ramp-ups by any international beer-maker in India. The net value (read turnover) of the company's operations is estimated at over Rs 200 crore.

Earlier, he was involved with the development of Australian brewer Foster's in India, which was utimately sold to SABMiller. Gidwani's stint also included Red Bull Asia, United Distillers and Unilever.

Carlsberg India has four breweries in operation, with the fifth one under development in Andhra Pradesh.

Gidwani's entrepreneurial ambition is likely to play out in India's rapidly expanding consumption story, but need not neccesarily be limited to alcoholic beverage space. The industry has spawned quite a few entrepreneurs in the last decade such as Ravi Jain, former Shaw Wallace & Co MD, Deepak Roy, who spearheaded a management buyout of Diageo's local business and Siddarth Banerji, who took control of Kyndal India (formerly a part of Whyte & Mackay).

Serial entrepreneur Ramesh Vangal, who sold his stake in Pernod Ricard India, then went to float Mason & Summers.

But several of them have found the going tough as the alcoholic beverage market is dominated by Vijay Mallya's UB Group. His conglomerate controls around 55% share of the domestic spirits consumption, and about 50% share in beer sales. UB and its closed rival SABMiller togther account for 80% of the market.

The opportunity and challenge is in occupying and scaling up niche platforms in the sector as India emerges as the growth sweet spot for the global drinks industry.

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