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Duckhams - the iconic British oil brand - was launched in 1899 by Alexander Duckham, a chemist and businessman. The brand is innovative, authentic, and has an entrepreneurial spirit. This quality engine oil was introduced in Nepal two years ago by Otech Trade Pvt Ltd. Though the COVID-19 pandemic affected the brand’s launch, Otech Trade Pvt Ltd over the years has built a strong network with suppliers and the necessary channels. Otech Trade Pvt Ltd held a launch event in Kathmandu on August 19. In an interview with New Business Age, KR Ventkataraman, the Global CEO of Duckhams, talked about the brand’s re-entry into the Nepali market, marketing strategies and future plans for Nepal. Excerpts:

What made Duckhams re-enter the Nepali market?
Duckhams Oil has been operating since 1899. After an absence of 10 years, we have entered the market again and already have operations in various countries. We thought of operating in Nepal due to many reasons. Personally, I have travelled to many countries but amongst all of them I have found great passion and equity in Nepal apart from the United Kingdom. The representative of Duckhams in Nepal is passionate and that drives us to move even further. I have met many competitors, suppliers who have received excellent feedback for the products. Additionally, the mechanics have also shared their love for the product and have mentioned that in the streets of Kathmandu they did not think of any brand other than Duckhams. The welcoming nature of the Nepalis drove us back to the Nepali market.

Moreover, Nepal’s demography is evidence of the prevalence of a vast number of youth in Nepal. Similarly, we have also noticed a growing concern among youth for green oil and the need for environmental preservation. We are here to deliver excellent lubricant oils with our latest resources and technologies.

Could you please tell us something more about Duckhams Oil?
Duckhams Oil has been in the market for over 120 years. The company was founded by Alexander Duckham who established this oil company in Phoenix Wharf, London. In 1914, Duckham received a letter from Winston Churchill appointing him to high office in government for supplying lubricants in the First World War. In 1931, Duckhams was recommended by 90% of car manufacturers like Morris, Wolseley, Austin, Bentley, Invicta, Rolls-Royce, Hummer and Land Rover. Duckhams has a rich heritage and takes pride in introducing iconic green oil that transformed lubrication technology.

The history of Duckhams also includes pioneering engineering developments in aviation, breaking land speed records and a prestigious motorsport heritage. Over the years, some of the greatest names in motorsports like Graham Hill, David Coulthard, Eddie Irvine, Nigel Mansell, Martin Brundle, James Hunt and Ayrton Senna have relied on Duckhams. On two wheels, Paul Smart, John Cooper, Ray Pickerell and Dave Crockford trusted Duckhams for their success. In 2017, the company relaunched itself and entered the UAE, European market, and various other countries. Now, the company is back in Nepal.

What is the purpose of your visit?
A proper launch of Duckhams was planned for March 14, 2020. We had properly planned to execute this launch. However, the plans changed due to COVID-19. Despite the situation that prevailed, Otech Trade Pvt Ltd, the distributor of Duckhams Oils in Nepal, carried on with its work. It has successfully built a good customer base and a proper network with all distributing channels in Nepal. I must appreciate the works of Binayash Neupane, Barna Neupane and all the members of Otech Trade.

Now, as the COVID-19 restrictions have been reduced, we planned on launching Duckhams Oils in Nepal once again. We now think this is a perfect opportunity to meet our extended Duckhams family, and discuss the plans and strategies for the future. I would like to call this event an opportunity to engage with our customers, and hear about their feedback.

There are many lubricant brands in the market. What makes Duckhams stand out from its competitors?
First and foremost, our brand is from 1899. That makes it unique in a country where the automobile industry started. The brand’s history in the 1900s, endorsement of Duckhams by big brands like Bentley and Aston Martin etc, innovation and our products like first multi grade oil to be exported to 60 countries are something we are very proud of. The brand is innovative, obsessed with quality and ahead of its time are all differentiating factors for Duckhams. Most importantly, the brand has built strong connections with suppliers, consumers and channel partners. Despite the absence of 10 years, they are all happy to welcome the brand back. That shows there is something that has touched the hearts of people.

What are your marketing strategies?
Duckhams is a brand that has a rich heritage. In Nepal, we want to focus our marketing strategies primarily on targeting the Nepalis, especially the 25-30 age group. We aim to make our brand relevant for the next 120 years and this can be possible by focusing on the youths. We have made huge investment on social media marketing and have worked to digitally connect with our customers. To wrap up, I would like to say that expanding our social media presence is the key marketing strategy of Duckhams in Nepal.

Can you reveal your future plans in Nepal?
Nepal has already welcomed Duckhams with wide arms. The Nepalis support our brand and we feel greatly overwhelmed by this gratitude. As it has been many years that Duckhams has been operating, our main objective is to reach that position once again. We plan on connecting more with our customers, and work with youths. 

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