HARIDWAR, India (Reuters) – Three years ago, Indian yoga guru and entrepreneur Baba Ramdev was riding high.
FILE PHOTO: A worker arranges consumable goods inside a Patanjali store in Ahmedabad, India, March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave
The consumer goods empire he co-founded had tapped into a wave of Hindu nationalism after the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Customers were snapping up Patanjali Ayurved’s affordable, Indian-made products such as coconut oil and ayurvedic remedies, in a mounting threat to foreign companies that had bet big on India.
“Turnover figures will force multinational companies to go for kapalbhati,” saffron-robed Ramdev declared in 2017, in reference to a yoga breathing exercise, vowing sales would more than double to 200 billion rupees ($2.84 billion) in the year to March 2018.
But instead Patanjali’s sales plunged 10% to 81 billion rupees, according to its annual financial report.
And in the last fiscal year, it likely deteriorated further, say company sources and analysts. Provisional data indicated sales of just 47 billion rupees in the nine months to Dec. 31, CARE Ratings said in April, based on information from Patanjali.
(Graphic: Patanjali yearly sales link: tmsnrt.rs/2WZ0MiW)
According to interviews with current and former employees, suppliers, distributors, store managers, and consumers, Patanjali’s ambitions have been hobbled by missteps.
In particular, they highlight inconsistent quality as Patanjali expanded very quickly.
The company says its rapid expansion did bring some teething problems, but that they had been overcome.
Patanjali also suffered, like many others, from Modi’s 2016 ban on high-denomination banknotes and 2017 introduction of a new goods and services