Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Biz of Fizz

The Biz of Fizz

- Melchiades Dias

Co-habiting the uneasy local soft drinks space in Goa are at least 30 players. Sitting somewhere at the top of this heap is Cortalim-located Dusk Aerated Waters, registering a turnover of a little under Rs 1 crore for the fiscal 2007-08. James L Correia, proprietor of the firm has lived to see many a fight for survival since he launched his operations 20 years ago with a start-up investment of Rs 2 lakh. He says of the future, “We are confident of holding our own in the face of stiff competition, not just from MNCs but also from other local players.”

When asked the reasons for his optimistic outlook, Correia says, “I have strived to move with the times. In addition to technology which we upgrade from time to time like automating the plant we installed at a cost of Rs 70 lakh, I have been particular about treating the water used through filtration and also treating the CO2 gas used. Care is also taken to source quality flavouring for our products. Our imported carboniser-chiller does both carbonation and chilling simultaneously, ensuring a better product.”

Reminiscing about Dusk’s early days, Correia says, “At that time most of the process was manual and we started from a rented premises at Betalbatim, moving later to a rented premises at Nuvem. We also had another manufacturing unit at Loutulim producing Wepps which I later shut down to bring the entire production under one roof at Cortalim. The brand Wepps was retained because, besides the goodwill it earned in the market, the bottles already bore the brand name.”

Correia adds, “I always wanted to run my own business. I was working for the Air Traffic Control at Dabolim airport. During the latter part of my stint there, I picked up a distribution agency with Goa Bottling, got myself familiarised with the soft-drinks business and began my foray into the beverage space.”

Wepps and Fizz’s carbonated beverages come in five flavours – orange, cola, lime, clear lime and ice-cream soda besides a soda sold directly to end-consumers.

Correia says, “Whereas the soda is sold for Rs 45 per crate of 24 bottles, the flavours go for Rs 75 per crate. We have an automatic filling machine with a capacity of 240 bottles per minute (bpm) and installed an automatic washing machine last year with a 120 bpm capacity. We bought what was available as even though we have a machine with a 240 bpm capacity - it can be fed just 120 washed bottles a minute,” explains Correia.

He adds, “My daughter Louella presently assists me with the running of the business and will be shortly take over the company. Another of daughter Yshana heads our marketing team. Our products are distributed mainly in South Goa and on an average we sell about 1600 crates daily to our end-customers – 600 crates of soda and roughly 200 each of the five flavours.”

Asked why they do not venture North, Correia said, “First of all, there is the problem of going all the way via Ponda. Secondly, my own feeling is it is profitable to sell in an area where your product enjoys brand loyalty. Also, we have to take into account the fact that apart from the MNCs, there are also local players to cope with and it’s not that easy.”

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