Hindustan Unilever Ltd, the country’s largest consumer packaged goods company by sales has implemented a transformational programme —Connected 4 Growth (C4G) — in the organisation as it looks to harness opportunities in a changing world, according to its 2017-18 annual report released on Thursday.

“In a rapidly changing world, leveraging technology and data-led decision-making continue to be a big thrust for your company," HUL said in its report.

The C4G programme has led to faster decision-making, localised and swifter innovation and increased speed to market, which is driving business performance, it added.

Thrust on technology and use of intelligent analytics at the backend has helped the company deliver better on-shelf availability in stores to its universe of seven million stores. During the year, on-shelf quality was improved by 20% over the previous year. The service delivery standards improved steadily upwards of 95%, while inventory holding was brought down by two days. As the company focused on bringing down costs, its factories started delivering over 10% cost savings, HUL said.

The maker of Dove soaps and Kissan jams is also making significant investments in e-commerce channel. A specialised team is working closely with all key e-commerce partners to create competitive advantage for the business and is scaling up at a rapid pace, the company said.

The Indian unit of Anglo-Dutch Unilever Plc was found to be on the back foot as the Indian consumer started to show affinity to natural brands. The company has outlined a comprehensive ‘naturals’ strategy to ensure it is able to leverage this growing trend. “The company is building a master brand Lever Ayush across multiple categories like oral care, haircare, skin care and more," the company said.

Additionally, it is also building specialist ‘naturals’ brands like Indulekha and Citra. The third leg of the ‘naturals’ strategy involves launching various natural variants within its existing portfolio of products like TRESemmé Botanique, Clinic Plus Ayurveda, FAL Ayurvedic care, Closeup Nature Boost and Nature Rush.

In the year under review, HUL’s domestic consumer business grew by 12% with an underlying volume growth of 6%. Operating profit margin on a comparable basis, expanded by 155 basis points. One basis point is 0.01%. Profit after tax before exceptional items grew by 21% to Rs5,135 crore and net profit at Rs5,237 crore was up 17% over a year-ago.

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