Business Today

'I believe a lot in luck and destiny and Officer's Choice has been very lucky'

Suman Layak        Print Edition: Dec 23, 2012

Who has had the maximum influence on you?
In business it has been my brother. I was with him off and on - in 1975-77 and then again from 1983 to 1992. Though he was nine years older, we were more like friends. He was a very methodical man. He would write down everything, and that is something I imbibed. In life it has been my uncle M.D. Chhabria, who had actually adopted me (not legally) when I was very young as he was childless.

How do you view the Indian liquor industry?
There is too much regulation. Each state is like a different country and there are lots of regional players. It is too fragmented.

Are you looking for overseas markets for your brands?
We have a strong presence in Dubai and in many African countries. Now we are trying to open up the US market. There are a lot of entry barriers but we hope to take both brands Officer's Choice and Officer's Choice Blue there.

What are the factors that enabled Officer's Choice to emerge the highest selling whisky in the world by volume?
A lot of luck. But a lot of effort has also gone into it. I believe a lot in luck and destiny and this brand has been very lucky. There are three more reasons why this company has worked well. It is professionally managed. The management team led by Deepak Roy has full freedom and a lot of money has been invested over the last four to five years.

You are looking to raise money. How do you intend to do it?
I would do an IPO today if the market was right. This company's profile will change in the next one to two years. We have launched a lot of new brands. We are looking for quality investors. We do not want a strategic investor, who will come in like a Trojan horse. Rather we would look at private equity. We have been talking to a lot of people over the last six to eight months.

How do you spend your time now that you have professionals managing everything at your company?
This is the first time I am totally detached from operations. It gives me a lot of time to think, relax, hibernate. I like to travel as a tourist - I want to go to quiet places where there is not much traffic. Back of beyond places. We went to the United States, Montana and there are stretches on the highway where there is no one for hundreds of miles. We stayed on a ranch, it was quite an experience.

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