Mumbai: We are in the midst of competitive battles,” says Harish Manwani, chairman of the Rs17,523 crore Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) and president (Asia, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe) of Unilever Plc. Using a cricketing analogy, he says Unilever will switch between attack and defence as the situation demands across the 55 countries that he’s in charge of.
The Indian arm of Unilever is defending market leadership in eight out of 11 categories such as the consumer goods space, where it’s fending off Procter and Gamble Home Products Ltd, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd and ITC Ltd. In China, it is fighting a battle for market share against leader Procter and Gamble Co. of the US.
“It is the entire might and scale of Unilever that we bring together,” he says of the multiple product launches and relaunches across emerging markets, aimed at giving the competition little chance to react. “We are in the right part of the world where the economic centre of gravity is shifting.”
Closer home, advertising and promotions gnawed away a lot of cash, with analysts referring to volumes growing at the cost of profitability. Manwani says HUL will “unblinkingly” defend leadership, and that its skills and experience will pay off.