Though localised lockdowns and its sales force members contracting the COVID-19 virus has caused disruptions, Hindustan Unilever (HUL) Chairman and MD Sanjiv Mehta said the company has put in place a robust crisis management system to ensure that disruptions are minimal. "All our factories are operational and the supply lines are running. While our people have contracted the virus, we have a back-up plan for not just our salesforce, but for the entire company, including the management committee."
Over 90 per cent of HUL employees eligible for vaccination have got their jabs, and the next move would be to get its entire ecosystem of 3 lakh people vaccinated. This would include not just the company's 18,000-strong workforce, but also its suppliers and distributors.
Speaking during the company's virtual press meet after the declaration of January-March results, Mehta said the disruption is not as severe this time round as it was in last April. "Even in places where there are localised lockdowns, the stores are open. So, the business is still running."
"The first two weeks of April had strong momentum, consumption did slowdown in the last two weeks, but we need to watch. The good news, however, is that over 86 per cent of our portfolio comprises health and nutrition products which are essentials," added Srinivas Pathak, CFO of HUL. The management committee said that despite the pandemic spreading to smaller towns and rural areas, rural growth has not stalled.
Mehta said that in the past year, HUL has built lot of resilience to combat unforeseen events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. "If there is a fluctuation in demand we can cope with it," he said.
The pandemic has also made retailers resilient, and this is evident from the fact that close to 5 lakh retailers have started ordering HUL products through its Shikhar app. "Pre-Covid, we had to make lot of effort to drive adoption of the Shikar app. In the past year, not only has adoption increased, the quantum of orders through the app has also gone up substantially," he said.
For FY21, HUL reported a 18 per cent year-on-year growth in revenue at Rs 45,311 crore and 18 per cent increase in net profit at Rs 7,954 crore.