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'We have never achieved such market share': Acer's Harish Kohli

Acer India President and MD Harish Kohli on the company's lockdown success, enjoying its best performance in 19 years

Rajiv Singh
Published: Sep 3, 2020 01:30:11 PM IST
Updated: Sep 3, 2020 02:18:10 PM IST

Harish Kohli, president and managing director of Acer India

Taiwanese personal computer (PC) maker Acer has posted its best half-yearly sales in India, thanks to prolonged work-from-home and the switch to online education. The PC maker is happy with its booming commercial (B2B) business. “This (commercial) gets you more profit,” says Harish Kohli, president and managing director of Acer India in an interview to Forbes India. Edited excerpts:   

Q. Is it a blessing not be perceived as a Chinese company?
If we are not a company originating out of China and that happens to be good, then yes, that's how it is to be. We believe that the law of the land is supreme and that's something which anyone and everyone has to accept as far as business is concerned. 

Q. You are the fourth biggest PC maker in India by market share, but a predominantly B2B company, which gets over 61 percent of its revenue from B2B…
Commercial business gets you more profit… that’s how Acer would like to look at it. And there is a background or context to it. When Acer India came into existence in 1999, we started as a joint venture with Wipro. The name Wipro Acer explains that the company at that time was fairly focussed on the commercial line of business. When we started our solo journey, we obviously got into our lap customers who were largely commercial. So, we needed to start in India as a commercial company, and not as a consumer company.

Q. How has your performance been post the lockdowns? Has it seen a spike as the country shifted to work-from-home and schools went online?
In the commercial desktop category, we used to have under 20 percent share. But for the first half of this year, our market share has jumped to 28.7 percent. If I combine both commercial and consumer desktops, then it is 22.2 percent. So, this is a spectacular performance in our 19 years of existence. We have never achieved such market share.

Q. Are consumers downtrading and moving to cheaper laptops and PCs?
The average selling price at our store still happens to be ₹70,000… that hasn’t changed. What it means is that consumers are looking for products which are complete in nature. Today, because there's a combination of work-from-home, learn from home and gaming, consumers are willing to invest in products which could be highly priced.

Q. You have been a No 4 for quite some time. Would you like to improve your ranking?
Ranking is something which is not an area that the top management looks forward to. The way I look at it is chasing numbers becomes a losing proposition from a profitability point of view. We are a profitable company in India. We have our strong rankings. If you look at the education vertical, we have been No 1 over the last 14 to 15 years. The same holds true for banking and financial institutions, where we have been the leader for 10 years. We entered into gaming four years back, and have maintained the No 1 position over the last 15 quarters. What matters most to us is customer experience.

(This story appears in the 11 September, 2020 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)