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May 16, 2002 | 0710 IST
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Caprihan floats company to sell Chinese goods

Partha Ghosh

Just when one thought the threat of cheap Chinese imports had ceased, an old hand in the domestic consumer electronics industry has set up his own company and is launching a slew of Chinese home appliances and electronics products under a new brand name.

The man is R K Caprihan, former head of marketing at Kelvinator of India, Samsung India and LML Ltd. Caprihan, who had also joined the dot-com bandwagon and set up a B2C portal, says he is back to the brick-and-mortar business.

He has set up a new company called The Kelon Corporation, and is all set to take on the might of the unorganised sector players in the consumer electronics market.

In the long-run, Caprihan says, he may even hive-off Kelon as a joint venture, maybe even with a foreign company.

Caprihan, chief executive of the new firm, has chosen the northern India market as his target. "This is just the beginning," he said. But in the period between July and December this year, he aims at selling at least 30,000 units of colour televisions. Kelon Corporation will sell CTVs under the Kelon brand name.

The price positioning will be the key. A 14-inch CTV (in Uttar Pradesh) will cost Rs 5,000, a 21-inch CTV Rs 8,000 and a 29-inch for Rs 14,500, at least Rs 2,000-5,000 cheaper than existing competition from the organised market.

Kelon is sourcing its televisions from local original equipment manufacturers, who Caprihan claims also manufacture for Samsung, Videocon, Akai, Sansui and Onida.

"My costs are less because my overheads are extremely low. Multinationals operate with a 35 per cent overhead cost," he says.

For the white goods business, Caprihan has tied up with a host of Chinese manufacturers. He is importing DVD, VCD players and washers from China and will soon launch microwaves, washing machines, etc as well. The key will be the price position here too. Kelon will pass on the price benefits to the consumer.

The company is also planning to set up an assembly unit for VCDs in the country and hopes to sell around 20,000 units in the July-December period. The products are targeted at the masses and will not carry a premium tag.

Hence, the company is resorting to vernacular print advertising. "We have no plans to launch TV commercials," Caprihan says.

To support the launch, Caprihan and his team has appointed a strong dealer and retailer network across the northern market.

In Delhi, Kelon will have 75 retailers and in Punjab six distributors and 75-80 retailers. Kelon is also appointing three dealers in Himachal Pradesh who will supply to 25 retailers.

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