Dabur India, the only Indian company to make it into this edition of WWD Beauty Inc’s Top 100, manufactures personal care products under brands including Vatika, Uveda and Gulabari. It began in 1884, when Dr. S.K. Burman set up a small Calcutta-based pharmacy specializing in ayurvedic products. Now based in Ghaziabad, it has become India’s fourth-largest fast-moving consumer-goods company. In its most recent fiscal year, ended March 31, it achieved record sales of 52.8 billion rupees—allowing it to crack the $1 billion mark for the first time—up 28.5% against the prior-year period.
Ayurveda, a Hindu system of alternative, holistic medicine, is still central to many of Dabur’s products. Its Amla hair oils are formulated with ingredients such as white flowers, coconut and almond, while its Uveda skin care line in- cludes red sandalwood and the herb neem. Dabur has an in-house nursery where it grows the active herb ingredients. The company says it aims to “offer the benefits of ayurveda in modern, ready-to-use formulations, a move that has been appreciated by consumers.”
Dabur’s activities also encompass health care, with prod- ucts such as digestive aids and medicated oils, home care and food. Now, the company is expanding further afield, partly through acquisitions. In 2010, Dabur purchased Turkey- based Hobi Kozmetik Group, whose brands include New Era skin care, and U.S.-based Namaste Laboratories, which manufactures hair care products targeting African-American consumers. It is also launching in additional markets, including the Middle East and Africa, and extending its reach to more remote Indian villages and further into Bangladesh.
The firm has a retail holding, too. In 2008, it opened New U, an Indian chain of beauty, health and wellness stores, which carries international brands including Neutrogena, Olay and Vichy alongside its own products. Members of the Burman family continue to sit on Dabur’s board of directors.