As promised, here's some more on Johnson & Johnson’s operations in India courtesy of my friend and colleague Anil – who was a terrific host, showing off the sites and flavors of Mumbai and introducing me to the wonderful spectacle of Bollywood. (I saw Om Shanti Om – and still can’t get the title song out of my head.)
We’ve all heard about how American companies are moving or beefing up operations in India as they aim to take advantage of India’s strong economic growth, rising incomes and favorable demographics. For some businesses, it is their first experience with sizable operations there.
But this isn’t the case for Johnson & Johnson – which can trace its roots in India back to 1947. Since then, the company’s operations have grown and broadened, encompassing not only consumer products, but prescription medicines, medical devices and diagnostic tools. In total, these businesses employ close to 2,000 people.
I don’t want to steal any thunder from Margaret’s Kilmer House blog, but to give some sense of the history of the Indian operations, here are a few key dates:
1948 – The company started marketing Johnson’s Baby Powder, which was manufactured by a local company, British Drug House, in Mumbai.
1957 -- A new company, Johnson & Johnson (India) Limited was created and registered – starting with just 12 employees on its rolls – and was licensed to manufacture a broad range of consumer and hospital products.
1959 -- Production began at the Mulund plant in Mumbai.
1966 – Production began at the Bhandup plant in Mumbai to make personal products.
1970 – Ortho Diagnostics set up a manufacturing unit
1975 –Ethnor Ltd set up a plant for manufacturing pharmaceutical and ethical products of Ortho McNeil Laboratories and Cilag Chemie. A second manufacturing plant for personal products soon started in Bhandup in Mumbai.
Recently, the company opened a new manufacturing facility in North India - Baddi in Himachal Pradesh -- which caters to both Medical and Consumer sectors.
Globalization has been a major part of Johnson & Johnson's strategy ever since the company opened its first international business in Canada in 1919 –and the expanding Indian market continues to be important.
To those who have been following Johnson & Johnson, this shouldn't come as much of a surprise. For instance, during the 2007 shareholders meeting, Colleen Goggins, the Worldwide Chairman of the Consumer Group, explained that almost 80 percent of the sales of Johnson’s brand products are now outside the US – and that the brand is growing at double-digit rates, more often than not, in China, India and Brazil. Earlier this year, BabyCenter India was launched.
Fifty years in India has its advantages. Speaking to people in Mumbai and on my ferry to Elephanta Island, I found that the Johnson & Johnson name was fairly well known – at least for its consumer products – and I noticed a few products on the shelves of a local chemist (who I visited for a refill of throat sweets to alleviate my persistent and annoying cough – remember I’ve been pretty sick.)