The rise of Rs 1,000 Cr Lohia Group and how it launched a health vertical amid COVID-19

Started in 1982, Lohia Group is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of machinery and equipment for the plastic woven sack industry in terms of quantum. The manufacturing giant launched Lohia Health in March 2020 to play a role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity for businesses to reevaluate, reassess, and most importantly to reboot. This holds true for both small and large companies.

Here’s a story of the rise of one of India’s largest manufacturing companies, and how it rose to the occasion to play a role in mitigating the impact of COVID-19.

Saumya Lohia Agarwal, Head of Strategy, Lohia Health

Lohia Group was founded by Raj Kumar Lohia in 1982 in Kanpur. His aim was to venture into the machine engineering segment in India in a big way. 

Raj started the company with the manufacturing of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic machinery and later moved on to producing plastic woven bags and industrial sewing threads. 

Today, the Lohia Group, which is a market leader in the textiles and packaging space, has seven companies under it - Lohia Corp, Lohia Global Solution, Threads India Limited, Lohia Aerospace, Injectoplast, TTRC, and Lohia Health. 

It is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of machinery and equipment for the plastic woven sack industry in terms of quantum and has a wide presence across the world, especially in Europe. The group has a turnover of more than Rs 1,000 crore and employs over 2,000 people. 

A new-age company

Lohia Group recently made moves to venture into the aerospace and healthcare sectors too. 

The conglomerate recently acquired Israel-based Light and Strong Ltd which specialises in aerospace and military carbon fibre and glass fibre composite components production.

Despite being a traditional manufacturing business, Lohia Group has always tried to acquire the spirit of new-age companies that is to constantly innovate and change according to times, says Raj Kumar Lohia’s cousin niece, Saumya Lohia Agarwal.

She says that service to community is at the core of the group.

New-generation entrepreneur

Currently leading Lohia Health along with her mother Shradha Lohia, Saumya comes from a finance and economics background. She graduated from Claremont McKenna College in California and worked with Goldman Sachs as an investment banker for a few years. She returned to India in 2014.

Saumya also worked with the VC fund of The Times of India Group, Springboard. She also came on board as an independent director for two publicly listed companies.

Saumya then ventured into the heritage luxury space in 2016. She founded Shree Sharda Associates Private Limited that brings global luxury Indian heritage brands to India. Some of the well-known brands that the company deals with include Portugal-based Bordallo Pinheiro and Vista Alegre. 

A SilverPRO mask

Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic brought businesses across the world to a standstill. It has also triggered a huge rise in the demand for face masks.

“N95 masks are safe but not breathable whereas cotton masks are breathable but not safe,” she points out.

The thought of people who wear masks not being able to breathe safely compelled Saumya to come up with a solution.

Saumya and her mother Shradha started researching and found a European formulation company that makes the mask antiviral and antibacterial. This led to the launch of Lohia Health in March 2020.

USP of the products

“We make four-ply cotton masks that are coated with nano silver formulation to kill viruses and bacteria on touch,” Saumya explains. 

She claims SilverPRO masks are breathable as well as safe. They are made from antibacterial and antiviral threads supplied by the group’s Threads India Ltd subsidiary. These threads are also used in making hospital beds, wheelchairs, etc. Masks by SilverPRO are completely made in India.

Ssumya says if you touch a normal N95 mask from the outer surface it can be extremely dangerous because a virus can get stuck. But it is safe to touch the outer covering of the SilverPRO mask because the technology used enables the virus to self-destruct when it comes in contact with the outer covering of the mask. 

The company has also donated 500 masks to Garbage Free India. It donates one mask to a corona warrior for every 10 masks sold.

Many companies have started producing masks and sanitisers after the pandemic broke out. But Saumya says Lohia Health is betting on five USPs of its masks to make a mark in the market. The five USPs are self-sanitising feature, breathability, 99.9 percent virus free, can be washed up to 30 times, and that they are biodegradable.

The masks come in a pack of three costing Rs 333 each. The brand plans to get listed on Amazon and Tata Cliq Luxury and also sell on its own website, riding the wave of D2C models. 

Lohia Health is also planning to diversify into the sanitiser manufacturing space. They want to make sanitisers which have moisturising properties. 
Edited by Javed Gaihlot


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