BW Businessworld

Radhika Piramal: The Real VIP

An MBA from Harvard Business School, she is known for infusing fresh blood into the aging luggage maker, VIP Industries, & giving it a new direction

Radhika piramal, daughter of Dilip of VIP industries, is fondly called the luggage queen.

A graduate from Oxford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, she is known for infusing fresh blood into the aging luggage maker, VIP Industries, and giving it a new direction. She is behind the brand’s new youthful and aspirational look.

Radhika started her career as a business analyst with management consultancy firm Mitchell Madison Group in June 2000. A year later, she moved to VIP Industries, where she worked as brand manager and director for European sales and operations after VIP acquired the UK-based Carlton Travel Goods company in 2004. Radhika, who soon left to pursue an MBA, was responsible for the re-launch of the brand.

On completion of her studies, she joined consultancy firm Bain & Company in New York. She also worked as a consultant with Future Brands, an international brand consultancy, for a brief while before returning to her family business.

The Piramal family bought Aristo Plast VIP Industries in 1973. When Radhika’s grandfather, Gopikrishna, passed away, her father Dilip took over the luggage business, while brother Ajay Piramal went on to create Piramal Healthcare. Dilip ran the luggage business until Radhika joined as managing director in 2009.

When she took over the reins, VIP Industries was battling the brunt of multinationals who were poaching the company’s top management. Many leading players including, Samsonite, the global leader in luggage, had entered India by then. But Radhika was determined to bring back the company’s lost glory.

Under her leadership, VIP Industries launched women’s handbag brand Caprese in 2012. A master in brand launch and make-over, Radhika chose Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt as a brand endorser. In 2011, she also successfully re-launched Skybags, a mid-segment brand of backpacks and duffle-bags that VIP Industries had introduced in the 1980s. To reflect the youthful spirit of brand Skybags, the company signed up actor Varun Dhawan in 2015. With its quirky colours and graphic prints, Skybags is the best performing brand in VIP’s kitty, growing at 70 per cent year-on-year for the last three years, according to a HDFC Securities report.

Radhika has also roped in actor Hrithik Roshan to endorse the newly designed suitcases by VIP. In one of its television commercials, Roshan takes on gun-wielding goons while guarding a cool blue suitcase.

Apart from being a successful entrepreneur, Radhika is an affable personality.

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