The FY20 product launches, however, were in a testing environment. ITC's annual report mentioned that it turned out to be one of the most challenging years for the Indian economy with GDP growth at an 11-year low despite a low base. But just as the economy started showing signs of a recovery in the fourth quarter, Covid-19 changed things dramatically.
said in the annual report that in the initial stages, the contagion had a significant impact on the hotels and education and stationery products businesses as it coincided with the peak season and the onset of the school session, respectively.
"Operations of all businesses were impacted towards the close of the year as the pandemic gained momentum," the annual report mentioned.
It also said that actions of the government and the RBI had supported confidence building measures but further measures might be warranted to improve demand, drive consumption and revive the Indian economy.
ITC's non-cigarette FMCG
segment, particularly the essentials portfolio, however, reaped the benefits of increased in-home consumption. Some of the brands have seen growth as high as 50 per cent.
From pre-Covid levels, Yippee! noodles, for instance, has seen a growth of 50 per cent, Sunfeast Marie, too, clocked in a similar growth. Overall, Sunfeast biscuits has seen a growth of more than 20 per cent. Demand for branded packaged food products like Aashirvaad atta has also seen an unprecedented surge.
"We have also witnessed encouraging consumer franchise for ITC Master Chef frozen snacks which was expanded to 70 cities during this time. Our range of hygiene products under the Savlon and Nimyle brands also witnessed robust growth led by product innovation in record time," ITC's executive director, B Sumant, said.
The Savlon portfolio has been significantly augmented since the pandemic with five-fold growth compared to last year. In keeping with the times, a slew of products were launched: Savlon Surface Disinfectant Spray, Savlon Hexa hand sanitising liquid, Savlon Germ Protection Wipes, Savlon hand sanitizer sachet, Savlon Hexa advanced soap. Nimwash -– a solution to clean vegetable and fruits -- was also launched.
Sumant said, "The newly set up perfume manufacturing plant at Manpura, Himachal Pradesh was re-purposed in quick time to manufacture hand sanitizers and service increased demand. Given the large scale continuing demand for hand sanitizers, we are currently manufacturing them at the Manpura unit."
To meet the demand, ITC has scaled up manufacture of branded packaged food as well as personal care products. "As on date, all factories manufacturing FMCG
products are operational and are able to completely service the emerging consumer and customer demand scenario," Sumant said.
The only dampener now is localised lockdowns. "The temporary lockdowns which is required to contain the increasing spread of the pandemic, can cause temporary and localised disruptions to manufacturing and the supply chain," Sumant said.
However, he added that given ITC's distributed capacity, efforts had been made to ensure adequate stock availability of its FMCG products in the market across these states. "ITC is well prepared to face anticipated challenges and cater to the emerging needs of its consumers, customers and guests," he said.
Distributed capacity had helped ITC navigate through the nationwide lockdown as inter-state movement was under curbs. The company has around 180 manufacturing plants spread across the country.
Total for fiscal ending March 2020: over Rs 19,700 crore
Aashirvaad: nearly Rs 6,000 crore
Sunfeast: over Rs 4,000 crore
Bingo! : nearly Rs 2,700 crore
Classmate: nearly Rs 1,400 crore
Yippee! : nearly Rs 1,300 crore
Mangaldeep: over Rs 800 crore
Vivel: Rs 500 crore
(Source: ITC annual report)
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