A V Anoop needs no introduction. He’s the man who’s been with the Medimix brand for the last 35 years and has established its growth journey by ensuring the brand retains what it stands for : trust and quality. He has another side to him, the side where he puts on a mask and dons another role, that helps him manage and balance his entrepreneurial side and also learn new things. His passion for acting is well known and he has acted in more than 7 Malayalam and Tamil movies and has also produced more than 20. He has yet another side to him, a side that involves social and philanthropic activities. He shares his life’s learnings and talks about the future of A V A Cholayil Healthcare.
Ayurvedic handmade bath soap, Medimix, is synonymous in most households and has had a successful journey for more than 35 years now by steadily gaining the trust of its users. The man who’s responsible for taking this brand to every household in South India, A V Anoop, through A V A Cholayil Healthcare, has diverse interests and reaches consumers across the world with products and services with emphasis on quality. He has gained immense experience and knowledge in soap, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food industry and has led the company to become a Rs. 275 crore brand. To set the company on a growth path, Anoop recently acquired a popular household Kerala brand in spices and condiments, “Melam”, with a range of products that include spices, masalas, breakfast products, pickles, desserts, sauce and jams. Not just this. Amibika Pillai, the renowned hairstylist and makeup artist in the fashion industry has joined hands with the company to market products in hair care and skincare vertical under the brand name “Kaytra”.
While Anoop has grown the company steadily and with care to maintain the reputation of trust and quality, he also has another side to him, that of an actor. His passion for acting made him set up his own theatre group which is active and continues to stage shows regularly. Last year, the group delivered five different plays and is getting ready to stage more shows. Through this story, he shares insights on A V A Cholayil Healthcare’s growth story and the lessons he has learnt as an entrepreneur and as an actor.
The AVA Growth story
With the philosophy of making and selling personal products that are naturally made and not harmful to the society, AVA Cholayil Healthcare, is a leading handmade soap maker in the country. It which makes and sells about 800 tonnes of Medimix soaps in a month in south India and is in an endeavour to constantly upgrade its facility and improve its product quality.
The AVA group was formed in 2007 after the bifurcation of the family business to market the products in South India. In 2006, there was slump in sales in south India. During that period, the company transformed as a consumer product transforming itself from a skin-care soap. It launched hand wash and added more factories. Since then, it has been growing at a steady 10 per cent on a year-on-year basis and has registered a turnover of Rs. 275 crore in 2017-18 fiscal.
It now has a wide array of products in its basket and Anoop believes that in the next 5 years these products will take it to the next level. “Over the next three years, we are aiming to grow Melam and take it outside South India,” says Anoop. The company has recently made some changes to its packaging and expects the products to perform well going forward. As far as revenues go, while Kaytra is a recent addition, it gets almost 15 per cent of its revenue from Melam.
The actor also expects Medimix to continue its growth at its current pace. “One of the main reasons why we are growing at 10 per cent is that we don’t offer any credit. We take advance money and only then send the stock,” says the managing director. The company has not reached out for funds from outside and is operating on internal accruals.
Brand Medimix means trust and quality to me
The importance of the brand
The company believes that its brand signifies trust. “To get that trust you need to work hard and develop the brand. Once it is accepted, you have loyal customers. Just by advertising, you won’t run for a longer period,” opines Anoop. The company has built trust over a period of time and its users are confident that its products are vegetable based and signify what it stands for. According to the leader, one of the most important ways to build trust is to ensure customer satisfaction and attend to their complaints immediately. Another important aspect of the brand is quality.
With these two most important features, the company reaches directly to every retail outlets from an ordinary grocery store, medical shops, whole sale market to the hyper market groups. As far as digitisation goes, for brand Medimix, it is only a reminder. However, for Kaytra, the digitial medium plays an important role.
Where to from here..
The leader wants the company to grow at a steady pace of 10 per cent to 15 per cent annually. While he believes that the Medimix brand will continue to grow at its steady pace, he has big plans for Melam and Kaytra. “While we cannot sell Medimix abroad, we are aiming to take Melam and Kaytra internationally,” says Anoop. It is already marketing its product, Melam, in the Middle East and has an office in Dubai now. It aims to reach out to other countries like Singapore, Malaysia, European countries, Australia and the U.S. However, he believes that they need to package the products differently.
It also plans to enter the hyper markets. “They have their own policies and have a huge listing fee,” adds Anoop. With trust and quality as two important pillars of the success of its brand, Anoop aims to retain the current pace of growth and test the international shores through its food and personal care product.
Lessons learnt: Once the curtain raises, everything is in your hands and it is your responsibility to complete the task. You sense the pulse of the audience and when you successfully complete the show, there is a sense of fulfilment. In business also, it is the same thing. My acting passion, helped me to take risks, take on challenges and made me more confident.
There was a drastic change in my personality. I joined the business without any experience. I thought I had to be tough with people with whom I am dealing with. I used to give punishments to them. With time, I realised that I need to delegate and trust my team.
How do you allot time for acting? I consider drama and its rehearsals a relaxation. There are different types of people doing different characters in a drama which is completely different experience. You learn to keep your soul separately and move to another role. This has helped me learn a lot. All our rehearsals happen only after work hours. We stage our shows in the Malayalee club, Asan Memorial and Kerala Samajam.
Role as a social worker: Many of my institutions are socially committed. I spend a percentage of my earnings on CSR activities. I am also involved in social organisations and a part of educational institutions and college in Kerala. Even our group is doing a good project in Rajiv Gandhi memorial hospital’s trauma care where 24 hours my team is working in that ward. In fact, that ward is called the Medimix ward.
How do you propagate the natural form of treatment: We have conducted many international seminars in Delhi, Hyderabad and so on. Sanjeevanam is also an experimental place where all Indian systems of medicines are promoted. We are opening a multi-speciality modern Ayurveda hospital in Kerala.