We have to fight COVID-19 aggressively for 3 months: CavinKare chairman

Virus will have long-term impact, says CavinKare CMD

FMCG major CavinKare has started offering hand sanitisers in sachets. It was developed within 15 days as it was the need of the hour, says C.K. Ranganathan, chairman and managing director, CavinKare. Edited excerpts:

What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the FMCG sector?

You have already you seen a significant impact in first 15 days of the month. In fact, it is almost a washout for the companies. Very few firms were able to supply things and others were not able to reach the destination as transportation was blocked.

We are not seeing light at the end of the tunnel immediately. Everybody will be performing sub-optimal to the potential. Customers are not coming out. So, anyway, April is a washout. Customers are buying only essential items and we are seeing this trends since the lockdown.

In my view point, the first quarter will be very warm and majority of the companies will de-grow in the second quarter, in the third quarter they might find their feet in terms of coming to some better level than the first quarter.

What is the solution?

Our only hope that this COVID-19 issue is resolved faster and it is left behind us. For that, a miracle has to happen.

The vaccine is one solution. Otherwise, the way currently it is going, it looks like its going to be a long haul which means we have to fight for three months aggressively and may be six to nine months in a phased manner.

In every setback, we have a capability to convert it into an opportunity. So from that angle, I believe some scientists across the world will come and give us an early solution.

Will there be a temporary or a long-term impact?

I wish it is a temporary one, but my hunch says it will be longer. When you are making the customers poorer by giving less money in their hands, I think it will have a long-term impact. In my view point, I think the world will go through a year or two tough period.

So what steps are FMCG firms taking to mitigate this?

We are working with the government as far as possible, as it is a national problem and not as just a business problem.

What are the expectations from the governments?

Our expectation is to ensure that the jobs and rural agriculture are protected. And the economy is protected. But it is a tough game and that’s why as a industry we all decided what we need to support the government.

Has COVID-19 imparted any lessons to the corporates?

Lessons learned are that you can be as productive as you are. Much more work can be done from home is one big lesson. The other thing is that you need to be extremely agile and nimble because the situation has changed certainly. The customer is locked down and the habit is going to change forever as we go forward. One has to adapt himself to the new emergence of customer expectation and the new world.

The best thing is testing ourselves to see what works for us. We were able to adapt ourselves to survive in this kind of a situation. Being a FMCG company, we decided to produce hand sanitisers within 15 days. It was a revelation to us and we are in the right direction.

What made you to go in for producing hand sanitisers?

We have a very strong R&D and we always keep a lot of products ready on the shelves. In the sense, close to about 300 products are up and readily available. But, we can’t launch all these things. However, some of them will be rolled out after modifying it to the current needs.

In the case of sanitisers, we decided on March 5 and on March 20, we billed our first invoice.

This demonstrates our agile, nimble-footed character and the speed of execution, team’s capability and the overall adaptation to the situation.

Are you planning to expand your product portfolio?

We are in personal care, professional care, dairy, food, snacks and beverages. But we always keep our eyes and ears open including adjacent sectors and keep those things ready. This is one way of equipping ourselves and future when we see a breakthrough product. We will be launching a slew of about seven eight topical products from our stable in the next couple of months that are relevant in the changing environment.

Is sachet offering a winning strategy for you?

I think sachet has been always our saviour. When we look at that what we can offer to the ‘common man,whose pocket is empty most of the time, we adopt ourselves to their budget. That is very important. So that is the idea of coming out in sachet. We can give a high quality product at his price points of what he can afford.

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