For decades, Asian Paints has led the pack in the Rs 60,000-crore plus paint industry. But with Grasim Industries, part of the Aditya Birla Group setting its sights higher, the competition will intensify. Grasim has chalked up a Rs 5000-crore investment plan in the decorative segment which is growing at 11% per annum. This announcement by Grasim which has heft and gravitas to disrupt the market made competitors like Asian Paints, Berger Paints, Kansai Nerolac and Akzo Nobel sit up and take notice. Grasim’s foray into the segment will be backed by their existing leadership in cement, white cement and putty business. Paint is a high growth market and the pie is large enough for everyone to share, industry observers say. There is no denying that leaders like Asian Paints will not find the going easy anymore. Sajjan Jindal group’s JSW has also entered the space, so cut-throat competition is bound to see ad spends growing with margins coming under pressure. In fact, Asian Paints read the writing on the wall and made public that it was looking beyond paints. Recently, the company picked up 49% stake in White Teak Company selling lighting and fans and will increase its stake based on the response. Time will tell which company remains in the black and which moves into the red.