The 350-year-old French glassmaker is stepping into the Tier-III and -IV cities

When Saint-Gobain entered the market two decades ago it knew that it had a tough trek ahead. India was never going to be an easy market to break into.

But, nothing had prepared the French glassmaker for this: Being mistaken for an education conglomerate! Everywhere it went, Saint was shortened to St and people, more familiar with missionary-run educational institutions, assumed that it was another school in the making.It took years for the company to reclaim its identity and establish its base in the glass business. No surprise then that it considers the instant recall that the name now has, to be a greater achievement than the Rs 5,000-crore business that it has built in India. It wasn't an easy journey, recalls B Santhanam, president, (flat glass) South Asia, Malaysia and Egypt.

"It was a very big challenge to create a brand in India." Especially since the company has existed for nearly three centuries and in many parts of the world is a household name, he said. Not only was it struggling with an identity crisis, the company was also trapped in a market dominated by unorganised players.

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