Elf India Unveils Ambitious Plans


MUMBAI, IndiaOn June 16, TotalFinaElf India Ltd., wholly owned subsidiary of Total, the fourth-largest oil major worldwide, announced its plan of doubling its market share by the year 2010 and unveiled the new Elf logo. With a turnover upwards of 2.75 billion rupees (U.S. $63.2 million) and sales of 40,000 metric tons last fiscal year, the Indian unit ranks sixth in the Total Groups worldwide lubricants revenue.

The companys avowed business strategy entails strengthening the distributor network, increasing investment in brand image, expanding relationships with fuel and gasoline stations and augmenting exports to neighboring countries. Towards this end it has earmarked an investment of 250 million rupees (U.S. $5.75 million) over the next five years, by which time it hopes to occupy the number four slot in the Group.

Speaking of the Elf brand that has been in India for over 10 years, Thierry Gautier, CEO and managing director explained, With the new logo we start a new era of strong development in India through innovation, dynamism, expertise and technology. Launched internationally at the beginning of this year, the new logo is in its fourth reincarnation since its debut in 1967, explained P.K. Mittal, senior vice president.

TotalFinaElfs recent tie-up with Reliance to sell its automotive lubes through the latters gasoline station network was also officially announced and is seen as a fresh move to deepen market penetration. The Indian fuel sector, deregulated in 2002, saw private players Reliance and Essar and transnational corporation Royal Dutch/Shell obtaining licenses to set up retail gasoline stations, hitherto the monopoly of state-owned corporations Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum. That private lube players can now have a shot at entering the service station business, albeit at a hefty premium, is seen as a moderately exciting proposition. However, the vibrant bazaar channel, a vast network of spare-part dealers, mechanic workshops and lube outlets, will remain the hot arena for serious action.

Over 450 Reliance service stations are currently in operation, mostly on highways, and the companys target of 2,000 such outlets by the year 2006 bodes well for TotalFinaElf. The alliance offers a huge potential for us to showcase our products and will help us gain an additional channel for retail sales, claimed Gautier. Our focus will be to make our entire range of products and services available to Indian customers through the rapidly growing Reliance network, thus strengthening our brand further, he added. Reliance which has elected to have a multi-brand approach to stocking lubricants, has an existing tie-up with Castrol.

TotalFinaElf will continue to focus on the niche areas of commercial vehicles, two-wheelers and tractors and, like most lube corporations, strive to acquire a greater number of OEM genuine oil partnerships. It already has a clutch of co-branded oils in its satchel: General Motors, Volvo, New Holland, Telcon, Punjab Tractors and Mahindra and Mahindra.

Gary Jones, Total Refining and Marketings senior vice president for Asia, pointed to the saturation of lubricant demand in Europe and the United States, and asserted that Asia is the major growth region. India is one of the key markets for the Groups growth, and we are committed to introduce the latest products and services, he said. Underscoring Totals long-term interests in the country, he added, Further to our existing investment in LNG, LPG, lubricants and other specialties, we are exploring other opportunities in refining and marketing to strengthen our position in India.

The new Elf logo:

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