Business

Spice Group aims to invest
$40m to power Nexian back
to glory

Indian conglomerate the Spice Group, which acquired local brand Nexian in 2011, aims to invest between US$30 million and $40 million to strengthen and expand its business in the country.

Spice Group cofounder and CEO Dilip Modi said in a limited interview on Friday that his firm would spend the multi-year investment particularly on brand building, distribution channels, services and new digital opportunities in Indonesia.

“For us, in Southeast Asia, Indonesia will be the main investment market. We are looking to grow in terms of mobile data as Indonesia is the digital capital of the world, reflected from the duration of its population’s screen time,” he said, adding that the $40 million investment was the biggest his firm would spend in Asia.

Modi said one thing his firm would do with the investment was to better compete in the country’s vast smartphone market by launching low-cost Nexian smartphones targeting Indonesia’s young consumers.

“As of July, you will see a lot of Nexian-branded smartphones with a price range of between $50 and $100,” he said, adding that his firm would also launch tablets.

Modi said the launch of new Android-based devices would be a way for Nexian to strike back in the country’s vibrant phone market, adding that he targeted to hold 10 percent of the market share next year.

“We’re targeting to sell 500,000 units of smartphones per month,” he said, adding the country’s phone market size reached around 60 million units per year.

He said that Nexian, which was previously owned by local business tycoon Martono Jayakusuma,
had held more than 15 percent of the country’s feature phone market for years since its first launch in 2006.

The brand, however, began sinking when many local as well as global brands, such as Advan, Mito, Asus and Samsung, started launching their budget smartphones and tablets to serve the country’s growing demand for mobile data.

Modi said although competition was tight, he was upbeat that sub-$100 smartphones would win the hearts of Indonesian youngsters seeking cheap phones that could connect them to the Internet.

“Nearly 50 percent of Indonesia’s population are under 30 years old and 45 percent are less than 25 years old. So, I believe that a lot of them want smartphones in their hands,” he said, adding that his firm would also launch Firefox- and Windows-based phones soon.

According to a recent survey by market research firm Nielsen, Indonesia’s smartphone penetration hit 23 percent, lower than that of Thailand and Malaysia, with 49 percent and 80 percent, respectively.

Modi said his firm would also invest in technology, looking at opportunities to work with some entrepreneurs to develop e-commerce, e-education and e-health applications.

He said the Spice Group also planned to develop IT solutions for enterprises next year as well as healthcare technology in Indonesia in the future.

The Spice Group, which is owned by the Modi family and based in Singapore, operates worldwide with various business lines ranging from telecommunications to health care.

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