Air-cooler-maker Symphony Ltd is now the second indigenous consumer goods manufacturers whose international business accounts for more than 50% of its revenue. The only other company to achieve a similar feat is billionaire Azim Premji’s unlisted Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting, in fiscal 2018. For Godrej Consumer Products Limited, overseas sales account for 44% of its total revenue in fiscal 2021.

“Because we grew in the U.S. and Australia last year, 52% of our sales came from international markets,” said Achal Bakeri, the founder, chairman and managing director of Symphony Limited. As per the company’s latest annual report, revenue from India stood at 48%, while its Australia business accounted for 27%, 10% from the U.S., 8% from Mexico, and 7% from the rest of the world. In comparison, the company’s India business accounted for 59% of total revenue in fiscal 2020, while Australia and the U.S. was 20% and 5%, respectively.

“We sell in across 60 countries worldwide,” Bakeri said. “There is a fair bit of business that we do in South-East Asia and Africa—including South Africa—and Europe. We even have a presence in Brazil which is a very large air cooler market,” he added. The company’s international business has been bolstered over the years by a string of global acquisitions since 2009. In 2018, it acquired Climate Technologies, the leader of the Australian air-cooling market.

“Globally, our estimation is that the market (for air-cooling) is about Rs 18,000 to Rs 20,000 crore. Of that we still have a mere 6% or so market share,” Bakeri said. “And since we are the only pure-play air-cooler company, we are viewing the world as a market and not really looking at just India,” he added.

Till about 2003-04, Symphony was a multi-product company selling water heaters, washing machines, and air conditioners, among other consumer goods. And it was only focused on the Indian market. “Then in 2004 we changed our approach; focused on being a one product company in multiple markets. That strategy has done well for us,” Bakeri said.

Today—in the air-cooling space—Symphony boasts of eight patents, 49 registered designs, 108 trademarks and seven copyrights. The company is credited with having popularised air-coolers in the residential, commercial, and industrial segments—making it a brand synonymous with cooling.

“In our case, air-coolers are bought seasonally by the end consumer, but over the years Symphony has managed to flatten the seasonal variations through channel management,” Bakeri said. “Even as we speak it's the monsoon (season in India), and consumers are not buying air-coolers. But we are producing and selling air-coolers to our channel partners. We incentivise our channel partners to buy in the off-season from us,” he explained.

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