Product Availability Amid Lockdown Is Biggest Priority, Not Pricing: Marico
A worker organizes packages of Marico Ltd. products at a department store in Mumbai, India (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg News)

Product Availability Amid Lockdown Is Biggest Priority, Not Pricing: Marico

Marico Ltd.’s biggest concern right now is to make essential commodities available to consumers amid a nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our biggest priority right now is to make the products available and not pricing,” Vivek Karve, chief financial officer at the maker of Parachute and Saffola, said. “We are operating plants that manufacture food—edible oils, oats, etc.—and prioritising this portfolio,” he told BloombergQuint. “The production in our personal care factory has been suspended till they we get regulatory approval.”

The novel virus outbreak—that has so far killed 17 and infected more than 700 people in India—forced the government to announce a 21-day lockdown to combat the spreading of infection, shutting businesses temporarily in Asia’s third-largest economy. Only sale of essential commodities, such as food and medicines, is allowed.

“ We are hoping modern trade and e-commerce will get necessary approvals to operate and this could be one channel where we can see better traction in terms of moving of goods,” Karve said.

To be sure, online retailers and grocers either shut operations or curtailed them, citing lack of clarity and inadequate safety of employees, hours after the India lockdown was announced. Police in many states, districts and cities are refusing to allow delivery staff to pass.

The e-commerce retailers were, however, expected to resume services from Thursday following assurances from both state and central governments on the safety of their employees and allowing them to operate seamlessly.

Lockdown Impact

Karve said this lockdown would have medium- to long-term implications on capital creation, jobs and overall consumption. “It’s necessary to weigh that properly before assessing the impact on business.”

“We find comfort in the fact that our product portfolio is essential in nature from a consumer point of view, which will provide us some shield against possible slowdown,” Karve said.

About be company’s approach over the next six months, Karve said the entire focus was to ensure there is enough liquidity in the system, people are safe and prioritise and reallocate the resources where prospects are better than some other portfolio where short- and medium-term prospects don’t look so rosy.

WATCH | Marico CFO On Tackling The India Lockdown

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