There would hardly be any person who hasn’t heard about Boroline. The antispetic lotion cream packed in a familiar moss green tube has become synonymous with every Indian household. Launched in 1929, as an alternative to imported creams, it’s been 87 years since then, but Boroline is still going strong. And if that was not enough the Make In India company doesn’t have a debt of a single rupee on the Government.
The Indian struggle for Independence against the British was multifaceted. While some Indians took the route of protest and agitation. Some sought out to strengthen the country economically. Gour Mohon Dutta falls in the latter category.
In 1929, Gour Mohon Dutta, an affluent member of the merchant community in Kolkata established GD Pharmaceuticals, a company which aimed to manufacture medicinal products. It should be noted that at this time India was ruled by the British and we were striving for Independence. A persistent campaigner, Gourmohon worked tirelessly to realise his vision of an economically self-sufficient India. Of the range of products which the company produced, one left a lasting mark on the consumer – Boroline.
When the company brought Boroline in the market, the Britishers were astonished. They tried to stop the production of the cream, but they failed and the cream managed to reach the households. From young people who used the thick, fragrant cream on pimpled or dry skin to mothers who rubbed it generously on the wounds of their young children, Boroline, a dependable antiseptic, is still an integral part of first-aid kits.
When India gained independence, the company distributed free Boroline cream to the people. Soon its popularity among the masses skyrocketed. Not only this, rumour has it that the cream got so famous it had Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, actor Rajkumar as customers.
The Bond which united India
Boroline soon became a bond which united pre-independent India. While the Kashmiris used it to counter frostbite and chapped skin (a result of their sub-zero temperatures), the residents of southern India used it to protect their sink against the harsh sun.
A simple formulation containing boric powder, zinc oxide, essential oils and paraffin. This enriching formula was suitable for all skin types and for users of all ages. Boroline has not changed over time. Its formula is hardly a secret. Still, several attempts to copy it have failed, although counterfeiters remain an irritant.
For many years, the company had only one product—Boroline. After years of consolidation, GD Pharma started to diversify again in the late 1990s with the launch of Eleen hair oil, a product designed to cater to the West Bengal market. But it was Suthol, an antiseptic skin liquid launched in 2003, which proved to be the gamechanger. With sales now growing at 20% year-on-year, Suthol contributed about 30% of GD Pharma’s Rs150 crore revenue in 2015-16. The company earned Rs28 crore in net profit, up from Rs25 crore the previous year.
Boroline still accounts for about 60% of GD Pharma’s revenue, but Suthol is growing faster. Both are produced at GD Pharma’s 25-acre factory at Joka on the outskirts of Kolkata.