MUMBAI L'Oreal(OREP.PA), the world's biggest cosmetics group, plans to quadruple sales over the next seven years in India, the fastest-growing beauty market in the world.
The company, which opened a research centre in Mumbai on Thursday to develop products specifically for Indian consumers, aims to grow sales to 70 billion rupees by 2020, its chief executive Jean-Paul Agon said.
Rising demand for quality and high-end beauty products among India's emerging middle class is expected to help L'Oreal grow by more than 20 percent every year in the country.
The French company, which sells shampoos and cosmetics under brands such as L'Oreal Paris, Garnier and Maybelline New York, had earlier said it planned to invest 9.7 billion rupees in India from 2011 through 2016.
"Out of the 66 shades of skin colour found in this world, more than 40 are found in India. That's an example of how varied and complex the requirements of this market are," Jochen Zaumseil, executive vice-president, Asia-Pacific, told Reuters.
L'Oreal, which has only 8 percent market share in India and faces tough competition from the likes of Hindustan Unilever and Procter and Gamble, said it is open to acquiring strong regional brands but is focusing on growing the business organically.
India contributes between 1 and 2 percent of the company's global revenue but is strategically one of its top five markets, Agon said.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose; Editing by David Holmes)