Born in Cuddalore, a small coastal town in Tamil Nadu; Chinni Krishnan Ranganathan is the Founder & Chairman of CavinKare Group. Coming from a middle-class background, he is considered to be one of the simplest and most humble human beings alive.
Under his inspirational leadership, the company has domestically and internationally expanded into almost every product of FMCG such as Personal Care, Food, Beverages, Dairy and Snacks etc along with a huge chain of salons across India.
Being the pioneer of novelty, C. K. Ranganathan has always felt the need to make a difference to the society and has done that by improving the lifestyle of consumers by shaping the company to create innovative products, combining the best of nature and technology.
He is one man that has shown the world that even after being standalone it is possible to beat the MNCs in the most difficult sector of fast moving consumer goods.
Other than that; Mr. Ranganathan has actively supported and been a part of philanthropy and has done so, mostly in the field of education. CavinKare under Mr. Ranganathan’s guidance patronizes some public charitable trusts that run schools and colleges.
Most prominent amongst them are ‘CK School of Practical Knowledge,’ an exceptional school that offers the much required practical education to students from pre-kg itself to the 12th standard; the ‘CK College of Engineering & Technology’ and an MBA institute in Cuddalore, which provide world class professional education to people majorly in the rural and coastal regions of Tamil Nadu.
Out of the four children of Chinni Krishnan; Ranganathan was poor in studies and unlike the rest, he went to Tamil medium school. And just as expected — two of his brothers became doctors and the third one became a lawyer.
Personally, he is known to be a reserved man with very few likings such as nurturing pets & had more than 500 pigeons, a lot of fishes and a large variety of birds; during his childhood.
Trivia: In June 2010, C.K. Ranganathan, had suffered a drug allergy which affected his immune system and he was advised a six-month rest in an isolated & sanitized environment to avoid infections.
Ranganathan’s entrepreneurial journey started from a small town of Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu where he first began working with his father – Chinni Krishnan, who was an agriculturist, and had started a small-scale pharmaceutical packaging unit.
Obviously, studies didn’t appeal to him much & because of his poor academics he always had only two options; either to do agriculture or start a business of his own.
And his entrepreneurial talent was first noticed during his childhood when he used to earn his own pocket money out of his pet business at that time.
The innovator that his father was had come out with the ‘sachet concept’! He felt liquid along with many other products could also be packed in sachets and used to follow that model way before any other brand even thought about it. He clearly targeted the lower-class like the coolies and the rickshaw-pullers who couldn’t afford the products otherwise.
Very rightly; he believed that sachets were the product of the future. But due to poor marking skills his father could not go long. Now just when Ranganathan entered college, his father passed away; soon after which, his brothers took charge of the family business.
Ranganathan in 1982, after completing his studies; decided to join the family business. During that time; his brothers had launched Velvette Shampoo. He continued for another eight to nine months and eventually left the business because of many clashes on point-of-views.
Now, all he knew was manufacturing and all he had was INR 15,000 that he had saved from his salary; no marketing, operations or finance! Confident about himself and his ideas; Ranganathan decided to move on without taking any stake in the property or business.
Eventually that turned out to be a blessing-in-disguise; a defining moment for him! For roughly a week; he brushed through all the businesses he could do, the things he was good at – which apparently were just making shampoo and rearing pets.
After a lot of brainstorming; he decided to go with Shampoo! He quickly rented a house-cum-office for INR 250/month & INR 1,000 advance, along with a factory for INR 300/month & INR 1,200 advance. And lastly, for INR 3,000 he bought a shampoo-packing machine.
And finally started his first brand – Chik Shampoo; after his father’s name!
At the age of just 24; when he started on his own, he clearly understood the ground reality, his strengths and his weaknesses. And because he lacked knowledge about the functioning of business & business as a whole, he began to do so by switching to reading The Hindu newspaper, management books and listening to cassettes on things like human resource management etc!
Now in the first month, they sold only 20,000 sachets, which although was not even close to covering the expenses but was indeed a good start. Because of its uniqueness, affordability & quality; from the second year itself the company started to make profits! In 1989, he moved to Chennai with aims of better prospects but continued the manufacturing unit in Cuddalore itself.
Now to grow the business more, he required hard cash which he didn’t have and surprisingly back then it took him around 3 whole years to get his first loan approved. Apparently because banks required collateral which he didn’t have!
One fine day; out of the zillions of banks he applied in, one agreed to give him a loan of INR 25,000 without the collateral, which eventually upgraded to INR 400,000, INR 15 lakhs (INR 1.5 million), and so on…
What was even more surprising was the fact that the bank manager had actually written on his loan application that – “this person does not have any collateral to offer but unlike others, this company pays income tax!”
And from here onwards there was no looking back for him!
Even with Velvette and other brands present in the market; Chik has always managed to maintain the edge due to their quality, cheap rates & unique endorsement strategies such as exchanging five sachets of any shampoo for a Chik Shampoo sachet for free, introduction of new and different fragrances like jasmine and rose, or giving one free Chik Shampoo sachet in lieu of five Chik Shampoo sachets, using actor Amala as their model and many like such. Resultant: Their sales drastically increased with every passing month and went up from INR 35,000, INR 30 lakh (INR 3 million), INR 12 lakhs (INR 1.2 million) to even INR 1 crore (INR 10 million).
And after 18 years, in 2011 CavinKare [renamed from Chik India in 1998] apart from being the number one in south India and many other states, had an estimated annual sale of INR 1,050 crore and by 2013 the company was valued at INR 3,500 crores.
During the course of his journey; apart from the many, the biggest and the most difficult challenge Ranganathan or CavinKare has faced so far was when Manmohan Singh the finance minister in 1993, withdrew concessions on excise duties for small companies. With this, CavinKare was brought into direct competition with MNCs. Due to this sudden change; there were two options in front of him: either sell off the company or become an MNC. He chose the latter and very smartly solved the problem by hiring top-class talent from the IIMs.
From here onwards some of the major milestones achieved by the company are mentioned below: -
- The company was renamed to “Beauty Cosmetics Pvt. Ltd” with an aim of producing world class products
- Launched “Meera Herbal Hair-wash Powder, to enter the hair care segment
- Setup a new enterprise – “Packaging India Pvt. Ltd” for supplying packaging laminates
- Introduced Spinz Perfume to consumer markets
- Renamed the company from “Beauty Cosmetics Pvt. Ltd” to “CavinKare Pvt. Ltd”
- Launched two premier CavinKare brands: -
- Indica Hair Dye
- Fairever Fairness Cream
- Created an online presence with SAP 4.0B
- Setup a division to focus exclusively on export initiatives
- CavinKare crossed a turnover of INR 200 Crores
- Created an in-house media buying outfit – “CavinKare Advertising Pvt. Ltd”
- Launched “Trends In Vogue” – with brands Limelite and Green Trends
- Acquired leading pickle manufacturer & distributor – Ruchi
- Inaugurated its new corporate office – CavinVille
- Divested its entire PIPL stake to Essel Propack Limited
- Launched Indica Herbal Hair Colors all over India
- Acquired a stake in Padhmam Herbal – a shampoo manufacturer
- Acquired Prakash Dairy and ventured into the dairy business
- Entered into the Coconut Oil category through their brand Meera
- Crossed the revenue of INR 500 crore
- Acquired “Garden Namkeens Pvt. Ltd” – a Mumbai based FMCG company engaged in the manufacture and sale of snacks, namkeens and sweets
- Entered into a distribution arrangement with Coty, to market their Adidas and Jovan range of personal care products
- Chik Shampoo brand achieved a turnover of INR 200 crores
- Launched Cavin’s milk, Curd and flavored milk
- Launched Cavin’s floured milk
- Initiated Chinnikrishnan Innovation Awards to encourage small entrepreneurs
- Launched UHT milk, Cavin’s milkshakes and Ghee via Cavin’s Dairy
- Entered into the Healthcare business by partnering with Haw Par Corporation Limited for their product – Tiger Balm
- Launched milkshakes & Buttermilk in Tetra packs
- Crossed 100 Salons mark across India for Green Trends
- Launched Cavin’s Paneer
- Launched Indica crème colors
- Received capital infusion of INR 250 crores from Chryscapital
- Crossed 200 Salons mark across India for Green Trends
- Launched Cavin’s Lassi
- Crossed the net worth of INR 1200+ crores
CavinKare started in 1983 as Chik India is an Indian multinational headquartered in Chennai, India! In 1990, Chik India was first renamed to Beauty Cosmetics Pvt. Ltd. and was subsequently changed to CavinKare Pvt. Ltd. in 1998.
The company has successfully changed its portfolio from just being a Personal care player to a full fledge FMCG Corporation with a diversified product line of Dairy, Foods, Snacks, and beverages.
CavinKare has strategically partnered with big brands like Coty Inc. for Adidas & Jovan brand products, Haw par International for Tiger Balm, etc!
In 1999, they setup their first International Business division and today the company has a strong presence in more than 21 countries including Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore & GCC countries and has a strong distribution trail across India which reaches to more than three million outlets via more than 6000 stockists.
Unlike its competitors; the company has continued the trend of bringing out new, significantly winning or highly differentiated products which has resulted into the launch of successful brands like India’s largest selling hair-wash powder – Meera Hair-wash Powder, Indica – 10 Minutes Herbal Hair Colour, Cavin’s Milkshake – with a delicious, ice-cream-like taste and many more!
CavinKare has their fully owned Research facility known as CavinKare Research Centre (CRC) located at Ekkaduthangal, Chennai and is also recognized by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Government of India.
Other than that; CavinKare owns another subsidy under its name known as ‘Trends In Vogue Private Limited,’ which came into existence in July 2002. Under this brand; CavinKare operates two salon chains – Limelite and Green Trends with branches across the country. Also, ‘Trends In Vogue’ runs a Trends academy which trains the candidates recruited by the salon.
TRIVIA: – In 2008, CavinKare had acquired a beverage company that made ‘maa’ brand of fruit drinks in Tamil Nadu for INR 30 crores and had expanded it to INR 85 crores too! but as soon as they merged the brand with their own distribution network, the brand lost its market share and sales. and it eventually had to be demerged again and was left to be standalone which then regained its original cycle.
ACHIEVEMENTS, AWARDS & RECOGNITION
- Awarded as the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ by the Economic Times (2004)
- Elected as the Chairman of ‘Confederation of Indian Industry’ (CII) for the Tamil Nadu State Council (2009-10)
- Former president of the ‘Madras Management Association’
- Founding member of the ‘Ability Foundation’ – an NGO working towards the rehabilitation of the physically challenged