Yoga Guru's Ambition to Beat Unilever in India Just Got Tougher

(Bloomberg) -- Hindustan Unilever Ltd.’s revenue climbed 4.1 percent in the third quarter as India’s largest consumer-goods company widened the gap with competition including from yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved Ltd.

Revenue at the Indian unit of Unilever rose to 87.4 billion rupees ($1.4 billion) in the three months through December, the Mumbai-based company said in a statement Wednesday. That exceeded the 84.3 billion-rupee average estimate of 14 analysts compiled by Bloomberg. Net income increased to 13.3 billion rupees, beating analyst estimates.

Ramdev on Tuesday predicted Patanjali will overtake Unilever in India next year. While Unilever has faced intense competition across its segments from detergents to skincreams from local companies building their brands using yoga and spiritual leaders and offering natural and ayurveda-based products, the latest quarterly results show the multinational will not easily sacrifice its lead.

Hindustan Unilever responded to the local competition by taking its Lever Ayush brand of ayurveda-based products, which includes soaps, toothpastes and skincare creams, national last year.

Patanjali, which on Tuesday said it’s partnering with e-commerce companies including Inc. and Flipkart Online Services Pvt to sell its products online, expects to double revenue to about 200 billion rupees in the year ending March 31, according to Bloomberg Quint. Hindustan Unilever is estimated by analysts to post a revenue of 361 billion rupees in the same period.

Over the past few years, Patanjali has expanded its portfolio of products to include almost all the segments Hindustan Unilever operates in the country. Ramdev has said earlier he’s an “unpaid ambassador” at Patanjali.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.