Forbes India
A Hint Of An Encore Image Credit: Forbes India
A Hint Of An Encore Image Credit: Forbes India

A Hint Of An Encore

A tremor in Japan, the onslaught of foreign brands in India, and a discord within the Nambiar family knocked down consumer electronics giant BPL. Now, scion Ajit Nambiar is plotting a quiet revival.

Harichandan Arakali

LifePhone+, a health and fitness monitoring device manufactured by BPL Medical Technologies, is just about the size and weight of a smartphone. Its uses range from monitoring cardiovascular health to recording blood sugar levels. A companion smartphone app, also built by the company, stores the medical records on the cloud, enabling a panel of doctors to keep round-the-clock watch on patients and arrange for medical aid if required.

The instrument is one of a carefully chosen, tightly integrated set of medical devices that Ajit Nambiar, chairman and managing director of BPL Ltd, is betting on to resurrect the glory of his family business, started by father TP Gopalan Nambiar, or TPG as he is popularly known.

Those old enough to have memories of life in the 1990s can quickly recall the brand name BPL. Most middle-class homes had at least one BPL consumer device—a television set, a stereo or a refrigerator—that the company built in partnership with Japan’s Sanyo Electric.

Once among India’s largest consumer electronics players, BPL started life as a small supplier of precision panels to the armed forces in 1963 from Kerala’s Palakkad district. Over the next few decades, the group diversified into medical devices, consumer electronics and eventually telecom.

At its peak, in the late ’90s, TPG presided over a group that garnered annual revenues of Rs 4,300 crore, owned 25 factories in India and abroad, and was se

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