In a top-deck reshuffle, PepsiCo hand Pratik Pota has taken over as chief executive officer of NourishCo Beverages from incumbent Punita Lal, who has proceeded on a sabbatical. NourishCo is the 50:50 joint venture between Tata Global Beverages (TGB) and PepsiCo. Notably, Pota's appointment comes at a time when the JV has just launched two products — Tata Water Plus and Tata Gluco Plus — in Tamil Nadu.
At the launch earlier this month, Lal was conspicuous by her absence sparking off rumours that she was no more officially associated with the JV. While she took over as the CEO of NourishCo in August 2010 from PepsiCo, where she was heading the marketing department, the slow pace with which the JV has moved in the last two years did make many wonder about the future of the venture.
Tata Gluco Plus was piloted last year in Maharashtra under the brandname Lehar Gluco Plus. But the JV opted to drop the Lehar name for the more "recognisable" Tata name.
Pota, say market experts, will not only have the the task of overseeing operations at the JV, but will also have to demonstrate that NourishCo is indeed a serious player in the good-for-you beverage space. Among other things, NourishCo has plans to step into foods in the next few years. While the company has not spelt out its food plans yet, persons in the know say products will include fortified snacks and biscuits.
At present, NourishCo will move in a phased manner in beverages, going from Tamil Nadu to Andhra Pradesh and then Maharashtra. An all-India rollout will follow next. Besides Tata Water Plus, which is a fortified packaged water product, and Tata Gluco Plus, which is an energy drink, NourishCo will also push Himalayan for which it has a brand licence from the Tata Group.
Pota is expected to leverage his 20-year-experience in fast moving consumer goods and telecom as he takes on his new role. The IIM-Calcutta and BITS-Pilani alumnus has worked with Unilever and Airtel before joining PepsiCo in 2005 as category marketing director, flavours. At PepsiCo, Pota was instrumental in managing brands such as Nimbooz and Mountain Dew. Nimbooz was conceptualised and developed by Pota, while Moutain Dew was given a new lease of life under him with campaigns such as Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai, featuring Salman Khan.
"Pratik’s rich experience across marketing, sales and general management makes him an ideal choice for leading NourishCo," said Manu Anand, chairman, PepsiCo India.
Krishna Kumar, chairman, Tata Global Beverages and NourishCo Beverages, added, “I have worked with Pratik in the past, and am delighted that we have found a leader of his calibre."