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Business News/ Companies / Returning Maggi to shelves Nestle India chief’s top priority

Returning Maggi to shelves Nestle India chief’s top priority

Nestle, however, is unsure about how soon Maggi noodles could come back to shelves after it gets regulatory approval

Nestle India’s new chief Suresh Narayanan sought to strike a conciliatory note with authorities. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/MintPremium
Nestle India’s new chief Suresh Narayanan sought to strike a conciliatory note with authorities. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

New Delhi: As uncertainty over Maggi instant noodles continues, Nestle India’s new managing director Suresh Narayanan—who formally took charge on 1 August to turnaround the Swiss multinational’s fortunes in India—on Saturday said the “priority is to bring Maggi noodles back to the market" besides tapping opportunities across existing product categories.

“The Maggi fiasco has obviously impacted sales of other brands of Nestle in India. We have to bring Maggi back to shelves. The matter is sub judice, and we don’t want to speculate. Let’s wait for the Court outcome, and see," said Narayanan.

The $97.5-billion Swiss multinational’s local unit has, first time in 15 years reported a quarterly loss for April-June 2015 as an aftermath of the Maggi ban—a product that accounted for about a 30% of the company’s sales in India before ban. Nestle India reported a loss of 64.40 crore for the quarter ended on 30 June 2015, as compared with a net profit of 287.86 crore in April-June quarter previous fiscal year.

“We’ll spend more in advertising, marketing and promotions across categories to counter impact on sales caused by the Maggi ban. However, we can’t quantify that at the moment," Narayanan said.

Narayanan, 55, who believes in “aage dekho", is also looking at enhancing offering in other existing product categories—dairy, coffee, chocolates and confectioneries to push growth, while the company is working on a “couple of new products" under the Maggi brand—most likely in the alternative snacks category. “Maggi is a big part, I am not diluting that fact. But what for me is going to be key is to grow other categories as well: dairy, coffee, confectionery," said Narayanan.

“It is my endeavour and those of my colleagues that we come to with respect, with cooperation, with support from the authorities, I am not in a confrontational frame," said Narayanan, who replaced Etienne Benet who stepped down on 25 July.

“...Nestle is a part of this country. We will be a part of this country as we have been for the last 100 years respecting the laws of the land and also respecting all the authorities," said the new MD who returned to the home country just five days back.

However, Nestle is unsure about how soon Maggi instant noodles could come back to shelves after it gets a regulatory approval. “A whole business segment has been dismantled" and “the whole system (of supply chain, manufacturing and distribution) is on freeze," said Narayanan. He added there’s a lot of work on the anvil. When Maggi comes back, there could be changes in formulation and ingredients, packaging and even communications and marketing.

Narayan, who said he loves challenges, said the company will overcome the challenges associated with the Maggi ban. “As a consequence of what has happened we will be having a process of introspection as an organisation, in terms of learning what was the thing happened, what was the thing that was right what was the thing which we have done was not right," he added.

Nestle India is also working on a few different products across categories, and some of the fresh launches may happen if the company finds them “commercially viable".

Does having an Indian as the chief helps multinationals? Narayanan said: “My being an Indian, as my boss says, is icing on the cake. Being an Indian makes me familiar."

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Updated: 02 Aug 2015, 12:25 AM IST
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