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.

80-Year-Old Lalit Khaitan Becomes India's Newest Billionaire

Thursday December 14, 2023,

2 min Read

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.