80-Year-Old Lalit Khaitan Becomes India's Newest Billionaire
Read how Lalit Khaitan, at 80, ascends to billionaire status with his successful liquor brand, Radico Khaitan, amidst India's growing liquor market.
At 80 years old, Lalit Khaitan has achieved the status of billionaire in India, a significant milestone in the country's fast-growing alcohol industry. Serving as the chairman of Radico Khaitan, a company based in Delhi and boasting revenues of $380 million, Khaitan has been instrumental in the company's impressive growth. Radico Khaitan is celebrated for its diverse portfolio of alcoholic beverages, such as 8 PM whisky, Old Admiral brandy, Magic Moments vodka, and Rampur single malt, all of which are produced in the Himalayan foothills.
Khaitan's journey to billionaire status was fueled by a 60% jump in the shares of Radico Khaitan this year, driven by rising sales and the launch of new drinks like Happiness in a Bottle gin. This surge in stock value increased Khaitan's net worth to an estimated $1 billion, based on his 40% stake in the company.
Radico Khaitan, which was founded in 1943, initially started as a bottler and later ventured into producing bulk alcohol. The company's significant turn towards branded beverages came in 1997, with the addition of Khaitan's marketing-savvy son Abhishek to the business. This strategic shift has proven to be highly successful, with Radico Khaitan becoming one of the largest producers of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), a category encompassing all spirits not classified as local alcoholic concoctions like toddy or arrack. Remarkably, 80% of the company's revenue now comes from this segment.
The company's growth is also reflective of broader trends in the Indian liquor market. With increasing urbanization and a growing working population, alcohol volumes in India are expected to grow at a compounded rate of 4% between 2022 and 2027, which is four times higher than the global average. By 2027, sales of alcoholic beverages in India are projected to reach $64 billion, up from $52 billion in 2021.
However, Radico Khaitan does face stiff competition. Its biggest competitor is United Spirits, a listed subsidiary of Diageo, previously controlled by Vijay Mallya. Other competitors include Mumbai-based Allied Blenders & Distillers, makers of Officer’s Choice whisky, and niche producers like Goa-based Stilldistilling Spirits India and Third Eye Distillery Holdings.
Lalit Khaitan's story is not just about personal wealth but also a testament to the evolving dynamics of the Indian liquor market and its potential for growth in the coming years.