24 Jul 2020 16:30 IST

Blue Star keeps cool despite hurdles

India's leading AC company offers a variety of contemporary and energy-efficient products

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted businesses across the spectrum, but none so much as the air conditioner industry. Health authorities are reportedly advising all businesses to switch from centralised air conditioners to fans to prevent the spread of the virus.

In this scenario, Blue Star Ltd, the first ever air conditioning and refrigeration company to be listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange in 1969, said, it is bravely soldiering on despite facing hurdles. Its call centre is still operational and it has a small team ready to offer its services to places such as hospitals, pharmacies, food supply chains, perishable item warehouses, and such. It has also made available deep freezers for critical applications on its e-commerce portals.

Tracing origins

Blue Star was started by Mohan T Advani in 1943 with just two employees and ₹2,000. It began by reconditioning refrigerators and air conditioners, and within just a few years of inception, it entered into partnerships with internationally-recognised firms to manufacture ice candy machines, bottle coolers and water coolers. Design and execution of central air conditioning projects followed. In 1954, it was chosen as a distributor for Honeywell, marking its entry into the professional electronics business. As its expertise in central air conditioning grew, other prestigious projects came its way. By 1960, its total income had crossed one crore already.

The next decade saw some extremely successful ventures. Blue Star became a distributor for Hewlett Packard and also bagged the air conditioning contracts for Air India Building, Express Towers and Hotel Oberoi at Nariman Point, Mumbai.

Over the following years, several other fruitful job ventures including Yokogawa, Copeland, and Motorola, came about. It also forayed into new categories like IT and software. Blue Star exited from some projects in the 1990s and early 2000s.

By 2001, it was exporting air conditioners. The company soon entered the business of electrical contracting, plumbing and firefighting segments, as they were crucial to its central business, by acquiring Naseer Electricals in 2008 and DS Gupta Construction in 2010.

Central air conditioning and room air conditioners are the two categories that make up majority of the air conditioning industry. Another segment that emerged later was the commercial refrigeration space that included cold storage chains. Blue Star had become a renowned brand name in the centralised air conditioning category, making its presence felt in hotels, shopping malls, airports, hospitals, theatres, banks, and so on. It is claimed that every third commercial building in India has a Blue Star product installed in it!

Diversity and range

In 2011, when it ventured into the residential air conditioning segment, the company positioned itself as ‘Experts in Cooling’ with the irresistible offer ‘Get office-like cooling at home’. Customers saw it as a welcome entrant into the residential space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, Blue Star has entered the fields of professional kitchen equipment and healthcare refrigeration. But air conditioners still remains as its flagship category.

The company has seven manufacturing facilities, all of which are ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 9001:2015 certified. Its research and development department is certified by the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR). Its chiller test labs have the AHRI certification and the psychometric labs have accreditation from NABL. Blue Star also has the NEBB certification for testing, adjusting and balancing of environmental systems.

Its product range covers room air conditioners, air purifiers, air coolers— Cassette, Mega Split and Verticool air conditioners, water purifiers, water coolers, central air conditioning systems, cold storages, commercial refrigeration, and speciality products such as mortuary chambers.

Blue Star’s innovative and energy-efficient product range is available through a robust network of about 2,900 channel partners and 765 service associates, servicing customers in 5,000 stores across more than 800 towns. It also has a trusted after-sales workforce to follow-up on production, marketing and sales; this has cemented its position as one of the marker leaders in its segment.

Steady growth

The company’s client list reads like a who’s who of blue chip companies in India. Blue Star has executed several important and complex air-conditioning and cooling projects at airports, metro stations and government installations in Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan and South Block.

It also exports its products to markets in the Saarc, Asean regions and North Africa. Its annual revenue is said to be over ₹5,400 crore.

Blue Star’s advertising and promotional strategy involves television, print media, hoardings and the internet for a targeted approach. Cricketer Virat Kohli became its brand ambassador in 2019. It also invests in customer meets, sponsors trade events and participates in exhibitions.

Socially conscious

Blue Star’s CSR activities have been focussed in and around the areas where its plants are located. It has been offering vocational training to school drop-outs in Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP). It has built sanitation facilities and water purification systems in Zilla Parishad schools as a part of its ‘Swachch Bharat Swachch Vidyalaya’ initiative. It was an active participant in the ‘Let’s Read’ programme that encouraged reading habits among underprivileged children by providing them with reading material. It has also contributed generously to disaster relief activities.

Blue Star has been rated at the highest level among energy service companies by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). To complete its ‘green’ look, Blue Star offers complete consultancy for Green Building Certification.

Recently, it introduced solar air conditioning solutions that save up to 85 per cent power compared to conventional air conditioning systems. The new premium-yet-affordable ACs are also highly energy-efficient and run on eco-friendly refrigerants.

Blue Star has been awarded both the Business Superbrand and the Consumer Superbrand status in India. It was one of the 20 Indian companies featured in Forbes Asia's 200 ‘Best Under a Billion’ list in 2008. It won the Golden Peacock award for Excellence in Corporate Governance in 2019 and 2020, and The Best Governed Company award at the 19th ICSI National Awards.

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