Reliance Retail to invest in Big Cola, Akash Namkeen

New Delhi After completing the acquisition of soft drink brand Campa, Reliance Retail is looking to add fast-growing consumer goods brands to its portfolio. The company is expected to sign a joint venture agreement with AJE India, the maker of carbonated beverage brand Big Cola, besides acquiring Indore-based Akash Namkeen Pvt Ltd. Ltd.

Two people aware of the company’s plans said it is also in talks with several regional and local brands to help it expand its operations into modern and general merchandise in India.

Peru-based AJE Group operates its India business from its local headquarters in Pune, and its portfolio includes Big Cola, Big Orange, energy drink Volt and beverage brand Seafruit. Reliance is looking to form a joint venture with the company to capitalize on the existing manufacturing and distribution capacity.

Emailed queries to the India and international offices of AJE Group and Akash Namkeen did not elicit any response till press time.

Meanwhile, Reliance Retail is also in talks with Akash Namkeen, which was founded in 1936, one of the two men, who sought anonymity. The company makes snacks like Ratlami Sev, Chivda and Bhel, and packs traditional sweets including Besan ke Laddu, Gulab Jamun and Sohan Papdi.

Mint had reported that Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd had taken a controlling stake in makeup and personal care brand Insight Cosmetics. People said it is also in the process of buying beverage brand Sosyo from Surat-based Hazuri Drinks.

At its 45th Annual General Meeting last month, Reliance Retail said it will create a larger FMCG business by expanding its existing private label and acquiring new brands. “I am happy to announce that this year we will launch our fast growing consumer goods business. The objective of this business is to develop and distribute products that meet the daily needs of every Indian, With high quality products at affordable prices,” Isha Ambani, Director, RRVL had said.

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A person familiar with the company’s plans said the company may be looking at different ways to partner with brands. “All of this is happening through acquisitions or joint ventures or a combination of licensing of brands,” he said on condition of anonymity.

However, a company spokesperson said: “As a policy, we do not comment on media speculation and rumours.” “The company is evaluating opportunities on an ongoing basis,” he added.

While the focus is on food and beverages, the company may also consider personal and home care brands. In the meantime, it is actively deploying distributors to grow its private label, and is launching specific pack sizes for general business outlets.

Reliance sells instant noodles and soups, biscuits, namkeens, sweets, pasta, vermicelli, ketchup and jams under the Snack Tack brand. Flour, edible oils, rice, pulses, dry fruits, spices and seasonings, salt, sugar are available under the Good Life brand, while olive oil is sold under the Seas brand. It also sells beverages under the name Bubbles & Yes! label.

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