TBY talks to Vaidyanathan Sundaresan, Director & CEO of The National Detergent Co., on the FMCG market in Oman, and regional competition.

Vaidyanathan Sundaresan
Vaidyanathan Sundaresan is a management professional with qualifications in B.Tech Engineering and an MBA from premier institutions in India, specialized in marketing, finance, and general management. He has worked in a number of multinational companies and has more than 40 years of experience in India and abroad in various functions and profit-center responsibilities. He has been working with National Detergent Co. in this current position for the last 18 years.

What has been the company's focus since its foundation in 1981?

We commenced manufacturing in 1982 with the objective of meeting the laundry products demand of the local market. It was widely observed that Omanis take pride in making use of their own country's products. There is a special pride in patronizing local brands and locally manufactured products as long as they meet the quality standards, are easily available, and have a competitive price. I believe this to be a significant factor that certainly enabled the company to grow right from the outset. We ensured the integrity of our quality control by employing technicians and managers from various multinational companies such as Unilever India, and some of the people who joined us 25 years ago are still working with us even today. We were one of the first among the detergent companies in the entire region to have ISO 9000 certification. Once we established our presence in detergent powder, we diversified into dishwashing liquid. We built a second manufacturing plant in Rusayl Industrial Estate for liquid products and a third plant after a few years, where we also began producing toilet soaps. And in 1998, we put up a new unit to manufacture sulphonic acid, which is a key raw material, as an input for our own consumption. Subsequently, we expanded our liquid product plant to produce other consumer products like home care items, and certain personal care products such as shampoo and hand wash liquid. We also have plans to eventually relocate operations to integrate our detergent powder factory under one roof with a higher capacity. In short, over a period of time the company has expanded in phases to become a multi-product firm. We are growing quite consistently in what is very much a competitive industry dominated by multinationals like Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and Henkel.