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The appointment comes at a time when Britannia is planning to expand its dairy portfolio and improve the distribution of those products.
The appointment comes at a time when Britannia is planning to expand its dairy portfolio and improve the distribution of those products.

Britannia picks new chief for dairy unit

Company veteran Anindya Dutta replaces Ashok Namboodiri who left earlier this month

New Delhi: Britannia Industries Ltd has appointed company veteran Anindya Dutta as its new dairy business head, replacing Ashok Namboodiri, who left earlier this month.

The maker of Good Day biscuits and Daily Fresh Dahi reported lower profit margins in its dairy business last year due to higher milk costs. Dutta, who is currently heading the company’s bread business, will now head both businesses as part of the new structure.

Dutta, who joined the company in 2000, took over as the head of the bread business in 2013 and turned it around in a span of two years, expanding both revenue and profitability.

The appointment comes at a time when the company is planning to expand its dairy portfolio and improve the distribution of those products.

“The dairy business will be a key part of the company’s growth plan as it expands the dairy portfolio over the next 12-14 months on the back of the better distribution," a company spokesperson said by email.

The company’s dairy portfolio comprises cheese, curd, flavoured yogurt, ghee and packaged milk.

Profit at the company’s dairy business, which comprises less than 5% of total sales, plummeted 69.5% from 35 crore in 2013 to 10.67 crore for the year ended 31 March 2014. The business registered a turnover of 299.32 crore, down 3.2% from 309.19 crore in the year-ago period. The dairy business was hurt by a 30% rise in milk prices in that period, the company pointed out in its annual report.

The internal hiring also reflects the company’s latest move to increasingly promote existing talent.

Three months ago, Britannia promoted Gunjan Shah to head its international arm. He was previously the general manager of its replenishment business.

In the middle of last year, Ali Harris Shere was elevated to the post marketing director, replacing Anuradha Narasimhan, who quit the company to join a packaged food start-up.

Innovation in Britannia’s dairy portfolio has been mediocre when compared to its aggression in the biscuits category, in which it has actively launched higher-priced products such as NutriChoice Heavens and GoodDay Chunkies, which helped boost margins, industry experts said.

“Over the past two years, the company was really trying to gain market share in its biscuits portfolio and it’s very visible now," said Abneesh Roy, associate director, institutional equities, research at Mumbai-based brokerage Edelweiss Securities. Britannia has not spent much on advertising its dairy products, he added.

“Now, with the core business (biscuits) on track, they can easily focus on dairy," Roy said.

For the quarter ended 31 December, the company reported a 36.5% jump in net profit to 137.22 crore from a year ago, as moderating ingredient costs and higher sales of premium biscuits boosted margins.

Britannia’s renewed focus on its dairy business comes at a time when regional dairy firms are flooding the market with more nuanced and innovative dairy products at compelling prices.

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