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How a young leader revived the flagging fortunes of Srichand

After more than 60 years in business, firm now plans personalised new brand for high-end market; plan to list on SET

Only six years ago, Srichand United Dispensary did not even have a personal computer. Its over-60 years old brand had nearly vanished from the market.

However, thanks to a bold move to overhaul the entire company by its third-generation leader Rawit Hanutsaha, who quit his banking career to rescue the firm from the verge of collapse, Srichand Powder has resumed its glamorous days as a familiar cosmetics name among young consumers.

"If we had not made that major change, we might not have been able to survive into these modern days," admitted Rawit, now Srichand's managing director.

Srichand's turnaround owed much to Rawit's decision to enter the modern-trade channel about five years ago. After redesigning the products' packaging to look more modern, Rawit approached 7-Eleven to put his Srichand Powder to its shelves.

"At that time, we were a very small company. I told 7-Eleven that I would be pleased to pay all entrance fees if our sales volume did not pass the minimum amount in three weeks.

"Well, they would have taken our products off the shelves and I would have had to pay the entrance fee anyway, with or without my promise," said Rawit, laughing.

Thanks to 7-Eleven's nationwide network, the first orders from the convenience-store chain were three times Srichand's production capacity at that time. Rawit told every staff member to work around the clock and used every means to deliver the orders, including asking some of his customers to "loan" some products to meet 7-11's first orders.

Although now Srichand Powder is on the shelves of nearly all modern-trade stores and the company has boosted its sales more than tenfold from the levels about five to six years ago when the company launched its first TV commercials, Rawit said he would not yet call it a success.

"My goal is to list the company by 2020, before I turn 40," he said.

Rawit was speaking at the fourth "SCB SME Success" seminar held by Siam Commercial Bank last week. Srichand was one of the three small and medium-sized companies chosen to showcase their "secret to success" at the conference.

Dr Teerapun Lotongkum, a well-known marketing expert, told the seminar that Rawit had made a smart move to bind his almost disappeared brand with the giant 7-Eleven brand, which helped provide a short-cut return to the market.

"Nevertheless, it's not everyone who can simply go to 7-Eleven. Srichand must have been still remembered and craved by a group of consumers who prior to that did not know where to buy the products," he said.

Rawit said Srichand, which is now running its core enterprise system on SAP's sophisticated software, would rebrand all of its pharmaceutical and chemical product lines and put them online using SAP's cloud-computing platform. This will allow real-time inventory tracking and product ordering by its business-to-business customers. The online platform will also help pave the way for the company to expand its sales to other Asean Economic Community markets in the future.

On the consumer market, the company is rebranding its trademark from "Srichand Powder" to "Srichand" as it expands its product line-up. It will also launch a new brand, Sasi, to tap the high-end market in the fourth quarter, as well as introducing cosmetics for consumers with allergies.

Rawit said Sasi would be a "truly personalised cosmetic" that each individual customer could order, noting her requirements online, so the firm could supply the product specifically for that person. And unlike mass-market cosmetics that are stored on the shelves, Sasi will be produced and delivered fresh from the factory direct to consumers.


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