BPL, India’s former favorite TV brand is making a comeback. Thanks to Reliance

Illustration: Manisha Yadav | The imprint

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New Delhi: Before delicate plasma and flatscreen TVs made their way to the walls of most average Indian homes, bulky TVs were rife in living rooms across the country. At the time, one of the most popular TV brands in India was BPL – the logo had the brand’s name in a simple silver typeface.

While the company has lost to the competition over the years, it appears poised to climb the ladder of success again in the consumer durables and electronics market and regain the popularity it once enjoyed. In the 90s.

In August of this year, it was reported that Reliance had acquired the license to manufacture and market durable consumer products under the BPL and Kelvinator brands. “This is a joint partnership, while Reliance plans how to grow the business, we are still dealing with product innovation and quality assurance. It has proven to be beneficial for us. BPL TVs are already among the top five best-selling TVs, ”BPL CEO Sunil Khurana told ThePrint.

Consumers who remember the brand’s earlier products are happy to bring back a BPL TV. “As a child, BPL was a very respected brand that we all knew. I still remember the big old TV in my living room that we threw away not because it was dying, but because the technology became obsolete. I was not aware of the return of BPL. If available, I will fill my house with BPL products without a second thought! said Vijay Lalwani, a Delhi-based marketer.

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Trust is not the first partnership

The partnership with Reliance is not the first time the company has attempted to rebound in the sustainable electronics segment. In 2015, BPL partnered with Flipkart to sell products such as TVs, washing machines and air conditioners exclusively through the e-commerce portal. The deal with Flipkart was canceled in 2017 and the brand subsequently entered into a partnership with Amazon.

“Our partnership with Flipkart and Amazon has been successful, but you know people don’t want to buy durable electronics online. When it comes to television, people want to see what its picture quality looks like, and when it comes to a refrigerator, they have to look inside and understand if it meets their family’s needs. Khurana explained. “Also, physical stores are important for us to get into Tier 2 cities or smaller metro markets, which has certainly worked for us. “

“There is immense confidence in BPL, a company known for the durability of its products… Now that the country is focused on Indian products and is proud of Make in India, we are sure Indians will be very happy to buy. our products, ”said Khurana.

Speaking of the partnership with Reliance, a spokesperson for Reliance said, “Reliance Retail continues to bring unique customer value propositions through exclusive brands and products to the Indian consumer. BPL, an iconic Indian brand, is one such proposition. Various products in categories such as small and large electronic devices, and electrical appliances are launched under this brand. “

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It all started with panel meters for the defense forces

Acronym for British Physical Laboratories, BPL was started in 1963 by TPG Nambiar in the Palakkad district of Kerala and is currently headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The company is now run by TPG’s son Ajit Nambiar.

The first product BPL set out to manufacture were panel meters for the defense forces. They slowly branched out into the manufacture of electrocardiographs and patient monitoring systems. After its demise from the consumer electronics market, it was medical electronics that kept the company going.

BPL is still one of the most respected ECG manufacturers in the country. They also manufacture other health equipment, such as portable x-ray machines, non-contact thermometers, oximeters and oxygen concentrators, which were completely depleted in the second wave of Covid, according to the chief executive. Ajit Nambiar.

“We anticipated the demand for patient monitoring systems in advance and actually imported parts well in advance. As supply lines were disrupted, we brought in equipment on chartered planes to increase our production capacity, ”Nambiar told ThePrint.

According to reports, BPL began manufacturing televisions after the introduction of color televisions in India with the Asian Games in 1982. At its peak, BPL sold over one million televisions in India per month and dominated the Indian market for televisions. Durable consumer goods and electronics in the 90s. It reported a record annual turnover of Rs 4,300 crore in the late 1990s and was then among the top 10 brands in India.

It also sold refrigerators, medical equipment, music systems and home theaters, even vacuum cleaners and gas stoves.

The company also claims to be the first to introduce widescreen TVs, 3D TVs and frost-free refrigerators and the first company to introduce VCRs, portable CD players and alkaline batteries to Indian households.

In 2004, the company began to feel the competition from the market and could not cope with it. The damage caused by an earthquake to the Japanese company Sanyo in 2004 – with which BPL was linked – also impacted the company. Sanyo was eventually acquired by Panasonic in 2009 and BPL is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the competition created by the entry of Korean companies like Samsung and LG into the Indian electronics market.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

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