Gionee signs up Virat Kohli as brand ambassador

NEW DELHI: Chinese smartphone maker Gionee clocked $1.4 billion (`9,500 crore) of revenue in India last year, closing in on rival Micromax Informatics, and expects sales to grow 2.5 times this year.

The company, which entered India in 2012 and competes with Chinese rivals, including Xiaomi and Lenovo, besides market leader Samsung Electronics, has signed on Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli as a brand ambassador after bringing in Alia Bhatt last year. “2017 will be the second chapter of our aggression,” Arvind Vohra, managing director of Gionee India, told ET. He didn’t share details of the contract with Kohli.

Vohra said revenue will rise by 2.5 times by the year end. “Leaving aside (investments in manufacturing), we would be profitable,” he added.

Micromax, India’s largest phone manufacturer and the country’s third-largest smartphone maker, reported revenues of close to .`10,000 crore in FY15-16. Xiaomi recently said it crossed $1 billion in revenue in 2016, two years after entering India.

Gionee plans to make all phones sold in India locally by April, Vohra said. The company makes about 600,000 phones a month in the price band of.`7,000 to .`30,000 through contract manufacturers Foxconn & Dixon.

The capacity would more than double this year.

The company has acquired 50 acres of land for its own manufacturing unit in Faridabad, Haryana, which will take around 18-24 months to come up. The plant will have a capacity of 30 million units with an investment of `500 crore.

Gionee is banking on branding and targeted distribution to increase its share of the smartphone market. Vohra expects the `7,000- 30,000 price segment to grow by 25-30%.

The Shenzhen-headquartered company will increase its marketing spend in the world’s fastest growing smartphone market to `500 crore this year, up by 40% from last year.