Blue Star has announced collaboration with Eureka Forbes to launch a range of storage water coolers with in-built Aquaguard water purifiers. Blue Star is a leader in the water cooling segment with over seven decades of experience. Eureka Forbes, operational for over 30 years, is a major player in the water purification segment with its flagship brand Aquaguard, a recipient of several awards. Blue Star and Eureka Forbes will leverage the core expertise in their respective areas to offer an integrated solution for chilled and purified drinking water. The market for pure drinking water has been on the rise with enhanced awareness about water-borne illnesses and the need for safe drinking water. Most water cooler customers have been combining their water coolers with external water purification systems. However, this solution has limitations, compromising the safety of water. The new integrated offering will address the limitations. The market for storage water coolers with in-built purification is in its nascent stage and is estimated at a total of 11,000 units in FY15, translating to a value of Rs.90 crores. The market is expected to grow, with more and more consumers shifting to in-built purification, to around 30,000 units in FY18 with a total expected market value of about Rs.300 crores. While this product category may witness enhanced competition, it is not imported into India, as it requires significant investments and an established sales-and-service network, deterring most large multinational companies from exploring the market. On the other hand, a few unorganised regional manufacturers and assemblers have been selling integrated water coolers with in-built purification, but they lack an after-sales service network as well as brand image to reassure the end customers about the purity of water. The combination of Blue Star and Eureka Forbes, given their strong brand equity and wide sales and service infrastructure, is likely to be a differentiator in this segment. The product range comprises four models – three models with UV purification and one with RO purification technology. UV purification is preferred in markets with low TDS (total dissolved solids), while RO purification is suitable for high-TDS water markets to remove the dissolved impurities. There is a 3-stage purification system in the UV models and a 7-stage purification system in the RO model. The product is suitable for educational institutes, hostels, canteens, commercial establishments, factories, hotels and the hospitality industry. The range will be available in select locations across the country via a network of exclusive and multi-brand sales-andservice commercial refrigeration dealers. The company has an installation and service franchise network to support the dealers. The expansion of the company’s presence in Tier 3, 4 and 5 markets has contributed to its water cooler growth, and around 50% of its sales are from smaller towns.