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Over-leveraged companies will find it hard to recover from the Covid pandemic

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, Director, spoke to Indiaretailing about the impact of the pandemic on food brands and manufacturers, and his company’s plans and strategies to navigate the bottlenecks wrought by the dislocations and the country-wide shutdown in the wake of the pandemic.

Over-leveraged companies will find it hard to recover from the Covid pandemic

On the business impact of the pandemic and the : The impact has been negative in absolute terms. At this time in rural India, it is typically the period when the marriage season is in play, during which the consumption volumes of staples is at its peak. We have invested in many modern retail chain brands and in HoReCa and hope to see good response from these channels in the seasons ahead. However, for now, we are seeing sales of our high value SKUs to have almost shifted to the basic SKUs, which are essential items. With people staying at home and the concomitant curtailing of the going-out culture, there has been a decrease in the consumption of many non-essential products.

On time it will take to recover and recoup the losses during the lockdown: There is still no certain or definitive answer to this question. It all depends for how long the lockdown is in place and the kind of consumer spending and lifestyle changes that will be engendered in the wake of this crisis. The new “normal”, as they say, has to be seen in terms of how close and different it is to the conditions that existed prior to the lockdown. It all depends on the time by when we get the vaccine and in what quantities. Until then, the norms of social distancing will have to be followed and the toll in terms of loss of lives, livelihoods and business has to be borne with patience and fortitude. Of course, in the business sphere, the damage will be more to institutions and corporates that are saddled with too much leverage, and how they recover will be watched closely. The supplies of raw materials are another big challenge, apart from quite a few other uncertainties right now.

On ensuring that the safety and hygiene ball is not dropped during and after the lockdown: We are following all the SOPs as prescribed by the ministry and WHO. Thankfully, we were in the middle of commissioning a state-of-the-art plant and hence the best practices around hygiene are already being enforced and are in place with the adoption of strict norms for social distancing, use of sanitisers, handwashes, gloves, masks, foot covers, hair covers, etc. Also, we are ensuring that such practices are being followed by our vendors too.

On keeping the supply chain and the nuts and bolts of business well oiled: The trade and channel partners are well aligned with us thanks to our deft use of technology and its deployment across functions in our organisation. The MOQs, logistics, etc, are managed by mobile apps, ERP, SFM portals, and a lot of video conferencing are being done to address individual and the pending issues at large. We have created a special operations teams to address different issues and, over the past few days, this routine has become a habit or a new normal, if you would call it.

On fresh ideas or innovation that can help reach customers more effectively and win their confidence: We have tied up with the delivery players like , , and others in the home delivery space to make our products more readily accessible to the consumers. We have also launched a new flavour in noodles and are directly contacting many retailers and consumers for providing an on-ground experience. The package sizes that we intend to produce more have been researched on and we are engaging in social media activity to generate positivity for the move.