Pivot or Perish: The real estate sector44 min read . Updated: 29 Oct 2020, 06:50 PM IST
This edition of Mint's Pivot or Perish webinar will focus on how resilient Indian markets are to withstand difficult business cycles and emerge stronger post Covid
As India’s real estate sector continues to feel the impact of the ongoing pandemic, green shoots of housing demand are already visible. Global companies hit a pause to expand workspaces, it may take some time for the commercial office sector to fully recover. However, low-interest rates, pressure on property prices and need for homes may see the sector inching towards a gradual recovery.
To know more about the key issues faced by the real estate sector amidst a pandemic, we will talk to experts Abhishek Lodha, MD and CEO, Lodha Group; Vivek Singhal, CEO, M3M; Juggy Marwaha, CEO, Prestige Office Ventures; Rajeev Talwar, CEO, DLF Ltd and Chairman, Naredco and Karan Virwani, CEO, WeWork India.
Future of co-working space
“We want to partner a lot more with landlords as landlords have also started to realize how relevant the need for flexibility is for their tenant. They need a small incubation space for growth before moving into a consolidated space. That’s the kind of demand where these companies coming up in the next two or three years need an immediate space right now and don’t want to sign a long term lease," said Karan Virwani, CEO, WeWork India.
India's growth story is still intact
"Commercial realty is right now the shining star of India, primarily because the growth story of India is still very intact. India is still the cheapest outsourcing destination in the world. India has the highest skill labour with regard to the arbitrage of the cost and a huge population of about 2.5 million people who keep pumping capital in the country together," said Juggy Marwaha, CEO, Prestige Office Ventures
Credibility is Key in Real Estate
“Things started changing after RERA was implemented. Prior to RERA there was no obligation on the developers to deliver on time, to deliver a quality product so there were many challenges customers were facing. Credibility is key. People who have credibility have flourished and people who didn’t have credibility have vanished and that’s the hard reality of the real estate today," said Mr Vivek Singhal, CEO, M3M
Global and Indian housing market
“There has been an upsurge in sentiments towards housing across the globe. The US is having its strongest ever housing sales, you’re getting very strong housing numbers out of China, the UK housing prices are at an all-time high. Similarly, in Indian cities definitely in Mumbai and I also understand in Banglore, you’re seeing a lot of demand for good quality housing especially for one that is ready," said Abhishek Lodha, MD and CEO, Lodha Group.
We are too young a nation to use the word perish
We are too young a nation to say Perish or use the word perish. We’ve had every advantage. We’ve had some path-breaking reforms in the past six years and even before so there is no reason to say that an economy that is moving towards a $5-$10-$15 trillion will in any manner not flourish, said Rajeev Talwar, CEO, DLF Ltd and Chairman, Naredco
Cloud adoption has gone up significantly: Sumeet Pathak
"The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of cloud technology," says Sumeet Pathak, Digital Workforce Evangelist, IMEA, Automation Anywhere. "The adoption of cloud services, which is resilient, will help companies to undertake more and more digital transformational initiatives," he added.
Expect strong flows into emerging markets: Andrew Holland
"The countries that have managed to put the virus on check are showing V-shaped recovery. I expect strong flows into emerging markets. The long term theme is that money will come into Asia. India has more than 300 million millennials. And you know where the growth is coming from," says Andrew Holland, CEO, Avendus Capital Alternate Strategies
Operating efficiencies have improved: Kalpen Parekh
"Companies have cut down on costs and there are seeing margin improvement despite slower revenue growth due to lockdown. Good business will sustain as operating efficiencies have improved," says Kalpen Parekh
President, DSP Investment Managers.
People have learnt to live with covid and this is reflected in market: Nischal Maheswari, CEO, Institutional Equities, Centrum Broking
"We have to watch out for the demand situation post the festive season'
We have come a long way off from the situation in April. But still there is a lot of uncertainty. People have learnt to live with covid and this is reflected in markets," said Nischal Maheswari, CEO, Institutional Equities, Centrum Broking
Way ahead for markets
"The biggest learning from the way stock market has bounced back is never be over-optimistic or never panic", adds Karwa.
Digital has helped improve efficiency: MD, Emkay Global Financial Services
‘Digital has helped improve efficiency. The whole dynamics of running a business has changed. The learnings will also help post-covid,' Krishna Kumar Karwa, MD, Emkay Global Financial Services
Indian companies can benefit from China plus one strategy: Aditi Kare Panandikar
“Many US companies are adopting a 'China Plus One' strategy as they shift away from an over-reliance on a single country. This opens a new opportunity for Indian companies to be part of the supply-chain of US companies," said Aditi Kare Panandikar, MD, Indoco Remedies.
Indian manufacturing can hugely benefit from new digital technologies: Rajkumar Ravuri
“India has been one of the biggest talent pools. Manufacturing sector in India can immensely benefit from new technologies like AI, IOT robotics and digitalization," said Rajkumar Ravuri, director, Industry Strategy - Manufacturing, Salesforce.
Digital can be a game changer: Deepak Shetty
“New technologies like robotics and digitalisation can be a game-changer for Indian manufacturing," said Deepak Shetty, Deputy CEO, JCB India. The digital infra structure companies create will not only help them during the times of pandemic but also in the future, he added.
It has been remarkable turnaround: JCB India
“We have come back very strongly since the lockdown. The way our suppliers have come back is phenomenal. It has been a remarkable turnaround," said Deepak Shetty, deputy CEO, JCB India, adding that the company has seen a revival in sales of construction equipment over the past three months.
We are seeing a U shaped recovery: Bombay Dyeing
“Demand and production has been picking up. But it is not back to normal. We are seeing a U shaped recovery," Suresh Khurana, CEO - Polyester, The Bombay Dyeing & Mfg. Co.
Changes in the regulatory environment for fintech
“Regulatory framework is the engine that drives FinTech. On the demand side, the two key elements from a regulatory perspective are KYC and data protection. KYC has been a battle that Fintech has been dealing with after the Supreme Court Aadhaar decision which withdrew e-KYC and that hugely changed the dynamic of on-boarding new customers," said Shilpa Mankar Ahluwalia, partner (FinTech), Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas
How has covid-19 impacted business plans of Fintech companies
“For this industry, more than a challenge it is about having people take cues figuring out those small white spaces or gaps and bridging them to ensure people are starting to make those transactions," said Srinivas Nidugondi, Sr. VP & COO, Mobile Financial Solutions at Comviva
Future of monetisation
“Consumers are modifying their in-store behaviour now that they are coming out of lockdown across the region including in India. That’s where we see trends like contactless growing significantly as a preferred method of payment," said Tobias Puehse, Vice President, Head of Innovation & Customer Solutions, Asia Pacific, Mastercard
Initial impact of Covid
“Demonetisation and Covid, both have been accelerants in terms of new users adopting digital payments for the first time. With the first lockdown, we saw a very large spike in organic consumer adoption," said Sameer Nigam, founder and CEO, PhonePe
New Education Policy in focus
"NEP is about changing the way the students would learn and developing skills for future in all aspects of education. For this, there are three important pillars to focus on. One is to provide scalable platform, second would be for getting internet access and affordable pricing for teachers and students. The third pillar would be content. For that, vocational skills as well as social media platforms like Youtube as a platform for leaning, coding, project-based learning etc is also important," said Bani Paintal Dhawan, Head of Education, India & South Asia, Google Cloud India.
Covid has accelerated the milestones for us: GlobalShala CEO
"Covid has accelerated the milestones for us. We aim to become global and serve global students by upskilling workshops for educators for skill-building at a global level by the end of this year. However, because of the pandemic, our business has significantly gone up and we are able to reach out to students for more than 108 countries till date. We are launching workshops for educators worldwide as well," said Anushika Jain, Founder and CEO, GlobalShala.
Reassessing business models in education sector
"The kind of changes in skills for the working professional that we were expecting in a five-six years' period has happened in just five-six months' time due to the pandemic. Some of this is driven by free courses available online and some by the need for digital and data skills by most of the companies during this time," said Raghav Gupta, Managing Director, India & APAC, Coursera.
Digital and data skills
"Businesses are massively investing in digital and data skills. Most companies do not have those skills. That's where a lot of the education is being focussed on," said Raghav Gupta, Managing Director, India & APAC, Coursera.
Has the pandemic accelerated growth?
"It has been a brilliant time for ed-tech and education in general. The whole online boom during the pandemic where we need student-centred learning model is fabulous and great for the education sector. We need to make sure that we are investing in equity and access across the board," said Bani Paintal Dhawan, Head of Education, India & South Asia.
Challenges in Ed-Tech due to Covid-19
There are three big changes post-Covid outbreak in the education sector, points out Sarvesh Kanodia, Principal, Investments, Omidyar Network India. "One is investing and business modelling in order to get to know the team better in evaluation process in an online context. The other is the business model itself which is largely online and Ed-tech is a good example of that. The third being portfolio management, which has impacted several sectors and businesses due to the pandemic," Kanodia said.
AI’s role in drug discovery:
"AI plays a big role in drug discovery. Foundational to using AI is adopting automation. If you have a person entering data from one place to the other and then that data is being run through machine learning algorithm to predict XYZ. You have lost the purpose of using technology. In the pharmaceutical industry automation and AI can not only be used in drug discovery but also in clinical trials, monitoring supply chain and more. All this can be automated and then humans can really concentrate on ensuring that the time to market for the drug can be accelerated," said Swapna Bapat, Senior Director, Sales Engineering, Automation Anywhere
Impact on digital health ecosystem
“What happened pre-covid was that for a lot of people or for a bunch of the ecosystem digital health was on the periphery, it was a good to have, it was a service for convenience and cost benefit but not necessarily mainstream and that structurally changed with Covid," said Prashant Tandon, 1mg Founder and CEO.
What got us through tough times?
It's been stressful but it has been very exciting and at the end it is the spirit of humanity and the spirit of people working with their heart that’s truly come on top for me in this entire pandemic," said Umang Vohra, Cipla MD & global CEO.
Overcoming operational disruption
"What this taught us really was, two words come to mind, one was uncertainty and how to deal with that and the second was constant evolution," Anil Vinayak, Group Chief Operating Officer, Fortis Healthcare
A new playbook for humanity
“One of the important aspects of this entire scenario is that we are beginning to realize that healthcare is not just the responsibility of the hospital, or the doctor, or the government but it is the society as a whole," said Dr Sangeeta Reddy, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd joint MD.
“I always believed that when the water goes down, the ones that are swimming naked will be found naked. But the water is not going to go down. Most companies that are operating in the long term also want to deliver in the short term. These companies also want a correction. We think the glut of capital is so huge that companies that do not deliver in 5 or 7 years are still able to raise a huge amount of capital. That is what bothers me and people like me," said Yashish Dahiya, CEO & Co-Founder, PolicyBazaar.com.
What consumers want
"In the B2C segment as well, it is actually a good time to build an intimate relationship with the customer. There will be some depression or compression in the spending but what that actually translates to is that I as a customer will become much more specific about the right platform or company that I want to spend my money on," said Navneet Chahal, Partner at Bain & Company.
The new normal for startups
“Two big shifts that we are observing when we are talking to our customer base is while the past we had a weekly or bi-monthly connect with the customers, of late the frequency of connect has gone up, sometimes even once a day. It is almost as if we are walking the shoes of our customers," said Shanthi Padmanabhan VP, Customer Success, Salesforce India
Opportunities in a crisis
"It is a really difficult process but a lot of businesses have corrected their cost structures and have come out leaner, meaner and better, which I think is a great way to come out of this crisis. You are going to have much more sustainable companies come through the other side," said GV Ravishankar, MD, Sequoia Capital India.
The road to recovery
"On the payments front travel and food will have a slow comeback but thankfully our business is diversified in 5-6 large areas. We expect our revenue to recover to pre-covid levels by at least October. We have seen an increase in in-store payments as well, as people in stores don’t want to give their cards to be used on POS machines," Upasana Taku, Co-founder & COO, MobiKwik.
Survival strategy of startups
"This business has gone thorough all roller coasters possible. Almost all of our 500 cities were shut and later 200 were allowed to open. We had to play the game one day at a time. We basically delivered anything that was allowed and we had to onboard Kirana guys virtually," said Vivek Sunder, COO, Swiggy.
Insurance sector surge in claims
“Life Insurance is a bit luckier than health insurance because it is about life. While the instances are very high, you must understand that a large part of our customers are younger in age so we are better handling that. We haven’t as an industry seen a surge in claims," said Prashant Tripathy, MD and CEO, Max Life Insurance Co. Ltd.
Changes in what the customer wants
"In the beginning of the year, any discussion regarding health insurance people were concerned with the cost of what they were paying out of pocket, the complexity of the insurance product, claim related issues. Now, the priorities have completely changed. Consumers are concerned about job loss, recession and they are concerned about coverage, therefore," said Prasun Sikdar Managing Director and CEO ManipalCigna Health Insurance.
Role of Digital in this journey
"Digital was anyway a way to look into the future and the past. Consumers would want different products and services and different ways of consuming services. Health insurance in India, traditionally was that a person gets hospitalized and then gets paid. A customer who doesn't need to rush to a hospital, he/she is avoiding that but that doesn't mean that the person doesn't need treatment. In such cases we have introduced home care. We tied up with partners to provide it on a cashless basis," said Bhargav Dasgupta, MD and CEO, ICICI LOMBARD General Insurance Co. Ltd.
Immediate challenges after lockdown
"It was immediate with some of our stakeholders starting from our employees. Ring-fencing them was the first thing that we did immediately followed by our immediate customers. How we don't get into a panic situation with them. March was a crucial month that's when we started ramping up our digital offerings", said Vibha Padalkar MD and CEO, HDFC Life Insurance Co. Ltd.
Risk-mitigation as a key strategy
"India along with all other countries will index towards building resilience rather than efficiency in a post-Covid world. This would mean build up of local supply chains, local innovation, local eco-system and that would also include innovators combining automation with real-world challenges and coming out with interesting solutions for almost every sector in the country," said Mallya.
One of the challenges that India is dealing with in terms of implementation of AI is the access and availability of data, especially in sectors like agriculture, healthcare and education etc, said Gupta
On AI-based start-ups
"Proper implementation of AI in India on scale will take us a while to reach in the country, albeit there are over 400 AI-based start-ups, said Sangita Gupta, VP and Chief strategy officer, Nasscom.
AI and its future
"You want to use AI to solve complex problems. AI can further be enhanced in future to predict better predict a disease, diagnose cancer or even prevent pandemics from happening much ahead than the situation that we are in today," said Krishnan
Business and digital transformation
Automation usage is shifting towards providing unique solution to a sector than providing high volume and repetitive work solutions, for example, the healthcare, said Singhani, Managing partner, IBM India.
Artificial Intelligence: How far away in future?
Concept that automation will become all pervasive and take on all the jobs is not really true because future belongs to a complimentary world where automation can do repetitive work but imagination will come from human beings, said Mallya. Healthcare and education can be enhanced with automation and AI.
Demand of automation faced
Automation helps in adding newer ways to create communities and how the consumers are getting engaged, said Dulles Krishnan, Area Vice President- Salesforce.
Will more sectors turn to automation?
Technology will play a pivotal role in this crisis. The level of automation in SMEs is not high but automation with cloud and cloud-kind solutions will help, said Mallya
Automation and decision-making
Financial services such as banking etc have adopted quite a significant automation in their business processes already but now, they are looking at embedding automation in decision-making, said Kamal Singhani, Managing partner, IBM India.
On workplace automation
Entire focus of enterprises has shifted from cost reduction in the automation to business continuity and residency and that is what is impacting the demand, said Kamal Singhani, Managing partner, IBM India.
Road to recovery
Online education is only way forward amid Covid-19, said Prakash Mallya, Vice President & Managing Director – Sales, Marketing and Communications, Intel India. Demand for cloud services has become strong, he added.
Decoding the role of technology in economic recovery
Technology and automation during Covid-19 crisis has accelerated digital transmission and adoption of digital technologies and sector. The opportunity for technology-led automation has not been better, said Sangita Gupta, VP and Chief strategy officer, Nasscom.
Renewables cannot be any country's base power: Vandana Hari
"Unlike oil, world's electricity consumption is going to rise at quite a steep pace for the years to come. Renewables are growing faster but the double digit growth we see mentioned in media is coming from a very small base. It cannot be any country's base power when there's no sun or wind," says Vandana Hari. "I don't think in our lifetimes we'll move from high dependence on coal, hydroelectricity or nuclear to wind or solar," she adds.
India's energy basket has to be diversified: Vandana Hari
"India's energy basket has to be diversified and the more renewables you have the more better off you are and it's no longer a debate that renewables have to be in the basket," says Vandana Hari when asked if renewables are the new form of enery.
On the other side of post-covid, we'll have a new order: Nayara CEO
"This is a century-old industry and comes with its own set of norms and on the other side of post covid we'll have a new order and we have to embrace the opportunities and the latest technology," says B. Anand, CEO, Nayara Energy
10% of global oil demand is yet to return: Vandana Hari
"10% of global oil demand is yet to return due to the virus and that gave lot of power over prices and market rebalancing to Opec," says Vandana Hari
Recent fuel hike in India is a complex matter: Vanda Insights CEO
"Price at the pump is made of different components. Various duties and taxes are of a higher proportion in India. It is a complex matter," says Vandana Hari, Founder & CEO, Vanda Insights Pte Ltd, on recent fuel hike.
Core industries are struggling to return to full capacity: Nayara Energy CEO
"Even as we see more and more industries opening up, core industries are struggling to return to full capacity and once that happens we should hit the pre-covid levels of demand. Course correction will happen in next 3-4 months," says B. Anand, CEO, Nayara Energy
Moratorium doesn't solve any solvency issues of any enterprise: Naushad Forbes
"Moratorium doesn't solve any underlying solvency issues of any kind of enterprise, it only solves short-term liquidity issues. Moratorium is not a huge benefit being provided because it levies interest upon interest," says Naushad Forbes.
Access to capital is critical over next 12 months: Kinara Capital CEO
"Access to capital is critical for NBFCs and MFIs and MSMEs over the next 12 months in order to not have any broken supply chains," says Hardika Shah, Founder and CEO, Kinara Capital.
Lending to MSMEs involves lot of hand holding unlike retail loans: SBI MD
"Lending to MSMEs involves lot of hand holding unlike retail loans like housing loan, car loan, which are easier to take of. In June, SBI has put 80 officers across India who will be the single point of access for MSMEs to get loans" says SBI MD.
Only 2 mn Indian MSMEs have a website today: Salesforce India Regional V-P
"16 mn of India's 75 mn have web presence, which is on social media. Only 2 mn MSMEs have a website today. In the last 4 months MSMEs have suddenly realised the need for tech and that's where Salesforce helps them find the right channels to find the customers," says Kamal Kanth, Regional V-P, Salesforce India
Our government has to focus on demand creation: ACMA President
"Auto component industry is currently grappling with three challenges: cash, labour and raw material. Our government has to focus on demand creation," says ACMA President.
There have been 13 rate cut reductions by SBI since April 2019: SBI MD
"There have been 13 rate cut reductions by SBI since April 2019. SBI has reduced interest rates in tandem with repo. From July 1, all commercial banks will impose 7.5% interest rate for MSME loans under Self-Reliant India programme," says Challa Sreenivasulu Setty, Managing Director , State Bank of India
Govt's MSME loan programme has two fundamental problems: Naushad Forbes
"The MSME loan programmed announced by the government is sensible but it has two fundamental problems that need to be dealt with. Speed of disbursement of these loans is not so fast and the rate cut transmission hasn't yet happened for small industries. If government is guaranteeing the loans, the banks shouldn't charge MSMEs any risk premium," says Naushad Forbes.
Have to balance economy and emotions: ACMA President
"We have to balance economy and emotions. WE have no manufacturing competence for the auto components we import from China. Kneejerk reactions will lead to collapse of the industry," says Deepak Jain, President, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA) on China situation.
China is our second largest trading partner: Naushad Forbes
"We see this as an act of great aggression, which needs to be pushed back. China is our second largest trading partner. Our exports to China are worth $15 bn a year and imports are worth $75 bn a year. Most of these imports are manufactured goods, including consumer goods. Yesterday and today we saw delay in consignments, extra inspections on these imports. What will this achieve? Will it achieve anything substantial apart from making us feel good. India can't wean away from Chinese imports overnight, maybe it can happen over the next two years," says Naushad Forbes, Co-chairman, Forbes Marshall on the impact of China faceoff on MSMEs.
Cheaper power can help MSMEs stay competitive: VR Sharma
With micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) struggling to get back on their feet after a prolonged coronavirus-induced nationwide lockdown, both the government and financial sector should work in tandem to help them pull through, V.R. Sharma, managing director, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd told Mint. Read the full interview here.
Labour shortage at MSMEs has to be addressed: Sunjay Kapur
The Centre’s decision to change the definition of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and address solvency issues, will help many companies stay afloat during this current economic slowdown, said Sunjay Kapur, chairman, Sona Comstar, and vice-president, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India.
Read full interview here
Bad bank works really well, says Zarin Daruwala, CEO Standard Chartered Bank, India
"Bad bank worked really well in US post Lehman crisis and it worked well in Malaysia. It works really well in my view," says Daruwala.
"Unless Covid-19 scare goes away, it'll be difficult to get more than 30-40% workforce at offices," adds Daruwala.
SBI MD on Covid-19 and Indian economy
"Covid-19 cannot change the direction Indian economy should have because of its demands, young population," says SBI MD.
SBI MD on NPAs
"Over the last three years, most banks have cleaned up their NPAs," says Basu.
Growth of SME economy
"Our theory is that consumption will start first and when demand comes through consumption that will lead to growth of SME economy," says Vaidyanathan.
60% of our customers paid during Moratorium 1.0: Vaidyanathan
"Rural economy hasn't been much affected due to Covid-19. 60% of our customers paid during Moratorium 1.0. The ability of Rural India to go digital will be a defining point for India," said Vaidyanathan.
What banks' balance sheets will look like after March 2021
"Unlike demonetisation, banks don't have a timeline of when the pandemic will end but India is resilient because of its demography. There are lot of people and there will be lot of demand," says Bhattacharya when asked what banks' balance sheets will look like after March 2021.
Milan Sheth of Automation Anywhere on digital adoption by Indian banks
"Some of the biggest global banks run their operations from India and they do it at a 90-95% resiliency rate because of their digital adoption, which will finally be accelerated among Indian banks now because of the pandemic," says Milan Sheth- EVP, India, Middle East and Africa East, Automation Anywhere.
"Straight through processing hasn't been happening at legacy banks, the documents weren't digitised enough," adds Sheth.
There will be opportunities after 12 months: MD & CEO, IDFC FIRST Bank
"We are not going back to Stone Age due to pandemic. There will be opportunities after 12 months," says V Vaidyanathan, Managing Director and CEO, IDFC FIRST Bank on lending opportunities in post-virus world.
"We'll have an inclusive India and inclusive banking because of the Covid-19 crisis," adds Vaidyanathan.
SBI's MD on the perception of banks being 'credit averse'
"Bankers are ready to lend but there have been no takers in the last 1-2 years when the Indian economy has been growing at a lower rate," says Arijit Basu, MD, SBI on the perception of banks being 'credit averse'.
"There will be negative growth in first two quarters of FY21 but third quarter onwards, positivity may return to the Indian economy,", added Basu.
The road ahead
"In next 12 months, how customer behaves will dictate the way we perform," says Zarin Daruwala, CEO Standard Chartered Bank, India.
What banks need to do now, as per Chairperson and CEO, Salesforce India
"Banks have a lot of decisions to make in the wake of pandemic. Whether they want to be distribution heavy or branch light, asset light or transaction heavy. All banks will have to be more data driven and digital. Disruptions keep occurring but you have to keep you business going," says Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson and CEO, Salesforce India.
Bankers working remotely face security issues: Bandhan Bank CEO
In the latest interview of Mint’s Pivot or Perish series, Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, chief executive, Bandhan Bank, discusses the strategies to navigate its way around the situation. Read the full interview here.
Job losses will affect consumption: Mediratta
"I live in Bangalore and there have been massive layoffs among startups, which is a lesson for all the companies to have a sight on profitability. Job losses will affect consumption," says Mediratta.
Migrants may consumer branded products even in rural areas: Adani Wilmar Deputy CEO
"Migrants might be in the rural areas until July-August and they may consume the branded products they have been consuming in urban cities," says Adani Wilmar Deputy CEO.
The road ahead
"There has been a bumper crop this year. So there will be money in the hands of the farmer. With people migrating to their home states and taking up jobs under MNREGA, there will be an uptick in rural consumption," says Suresh Narayanan.
Shift of larger oil packs to smaller ones: Deputy CEO, Adani Wilmar
"During lockdown people in the rural areas moved from larger oil packs to smaller oil packs, even 200 ml packs because they didn't want to pay so much at once," says Angshu Mallick, Deputy CEO, Adani Wilmar.
The digital transformation
"Kirana customers are very digital savvy and they didn't have any problem navigating our newly launched app. The digital transformation that should have taken nine months happened within sixty days," says Mediratta. He also said, "Yes, e-commerce industry will get a boost in the food/grocery delivery sector but kirana stores have been savvy as well and are taking orders on phone or WhatsApp. So writing off kirana stores will be premature."
The Kirana factor
"During the pandemic most people got their groceries from neighbourhood kirana stores instead of e-commerce firms, and we cater to 10 lakh kirana customers in 17 cities," says Arvind Mediratta, MD&CEO, METRO Cash and Carry. "Our business with kirana customers rose by 40-50% during the lockdown, which compensated for our losses incurred in the hospitality sector," added Mediratta.
"There has also been mortality rate among kirana stores. At least 6-7 lakh stores have shut during the last sixty days for reasons like lack of revenue, lack of manpower," said Mediratta.
"Companies with direct rural distribution network will be at an advantage than the wholesale ones," says Marico MD&CEO.
The right product mix
"Due to Covid-19 lot of transformation took place among FMCG firms within a few months which would have happened anyway in the next 3-4 years," says Saugata Gupta, MD and CEO of Marico when asked about tying up with Swiggy to deliver Saffola oil during lockdown.
"Rural consumption will be far less impacted than urban consumption," says Saugata Gupta.
"Along with e-commerce, the whole digital transformation will get accelerated in the FCMG sector," says Gupta. He also added, "E-commerce's contribution has been 4-5% so far for us and can even be 7-8% for the whole year."
Post covid world offers many opportunities for FMCG firms
"If company spend more amount of money on improving their cultural aspects than on capex, we'll have even better run companies," said Narayanan.
"Post covid world offers many opportunities for FMCG firms but it demands agility and anticipation ability and also speed," he added.
Keeping the business going
"In the age of pandemic FMCG firms need to look at six 'R's to become successful. These are: Relevance, Resonant, Renewing, Recalibration, Reconstructing, Resurgence," says Suresh Narayanan, CMD, Nestle India.
'From a beauty to a beauty technology company'
"Globally, our CEO set out a mission for us, saying L’Oreal is going to evolve from a beauty to a beauty technology company. We are working with platforms to get consumers to interact with our brands in what’s going to be a low-touch economy. You make sure that they get a similar experience of virtual trials. The low-touch part of it is going to be about VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) experiences for consumers that will pick up," told Amit Jain, managing director of L’Oreal India to Mint
Amul's immediate challenges
"Growth-wise, during the lockdown, our best-selling products were cheese, Tetra Pak milk and ghee. But I do not see our product mix changing. People’s choice for pack sizes may change but there won’t be major change in food. Of course, consumers will go for healthier options," told Amul's managing director R S Sodhi to Mint. Read the full interview here.
The era of the big reboot is now here
The lockdown is not a mere pause in our economic participation, it is an inflection point. There will be no return to normalcy, just a facsimile of it. The paralytic effects of corona anxiety may persist. Even if a vaccine emerges by year-end, the virus will be able to resist eradication for longer than firms can stay solvent.
Read the full article here.
In-home use of beverages will open up new avenues, says Nadia Chauhan of Parle Agro
For India’s top beverage makers, the sweltering summer accounts for a chunk of sales marked by the launch of new campaigns and products. As the country went into a strict lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus on 25 March, bringing to halt the movement of people, travel and eating out, beverage companies saw demand shrink overnight. Parle Agro, which sells Frooti and Appy Fizz brand of beverages, says the closure of retail stores, airlines and eateries broke its links with several trade channels.
In an interview for Mint’s Pivot or Perish series, Nadia Chauhan, joint managing director and chief marketing officer, Parle Agro, said the company is mending those links and seeking emerging opportunities in ‘in-home’ consumption of its brands.
Lessons that GCMMF learned from COVID-19 crisis: R.S. Sodhi
That it is important to have a multi-site production (plants all over India), a multi-product base (milk, dahi, cheese etc) servicing multi segments (hotels, restaurants and households) and a multi-channel (general trade, modern trade and e-commerce) strategy.
The other lesson was building relationships—with supply chain partners, transporters, farmers, dealers and consumers. In the hour of crisis, we advertised more. It was the right time to build the brand.
Trusted and affordable products will see a surge in demand: R.S. Sodhi
Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), the maker of the Amul brand of milk and dairy products, does not feel that it will have to pivot too much in what people are calling the new normal. Managing director R.S. Sodhi said Amul had the advantage of being a multi-product company with a multi-channel strategy. In an interview for Mint’s Pivot or Perish series, he said despite challenges, the co-operative will meet its growth targets.
No food category will decline. There may be changes in pack sizes or brands, but with or without covid-19, food will be consumed.
Stores will be the back-end for online orders: Shashwat Goenka
Spencer’s and Nature’s Basket, with 200 hypermarkets and supermarkets in the country, are the responsibility of Shashwat Goenka, sector head, retail and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) at the RP-Sanjiv Goenka group. When the lockdown began on 25 March, Spencer’s, which sells packaged and fresh foods, apart from apparel and electronics, swifty put its entire focus on essential items. Over the course of the lockdown, the retailer forged tie-ups with Flipkart, Uber and Rapido for last-mile delivery of essentials. Now, as the lockdown eases, Goenka tells Mint that omni-channel delivery of groceries is here is to stay. Shashwat Goenka said in an interview for Mint’s Pivot or Perish series.
VR, AR will turn us into a beauty tech firm: Amit Jain
The protracted lockdown may have posed many challenges, but the pandemic has given the world’s largest beauty company an opportunity to pick cues from evolving consumer trends and quickly build solutions around them. In the long run, L’Oreal India expects the beauty industry to be relatively stable amid the disruption caused to the consumer goods market. Amit Jain, managing director of L’Oreal India said in an interview for Mint’s Pivot or Perish series.
People are talking about a ‘U’ shaped and ‘V’ recovery, I see it as a ‘W’ shaped recovery, depending on what happens in wave one, two, or even three.
Nowadays there's a new need for fashion essentials: Nagaram
"We swung into action in March by asking all our vendors to deliver the PPE and masks. Also nowadays there's a new need for fashion essentials," says Nagaram.
“We reached out to our partners who gave us work from home essentials and fashion essentials and we stayed relevant for the customer," he added.
Red the full interview here.
The supply chain challenge
"During first phase of lockdown, 91% of our employees said they'll wait for the order when we said they are free to cancel their orders," says Amar Nagaram, CEO, Myntra.
"In post Covid world, digital businesses have bigger role to play and we are well positioned to play that role," Nagaram added.
The uncertain times
"During April, we were the only logistics company operating across the country," says Mohit Tandon, co-founder, Delhivery.
"Most of April was consumed by pharma and FMCG essentials deliveries," he added.
Tandon also said that hyperlocal delivery is becoming bigger part of our business now. Read more here.
Changing consumer behaviour
"Between 23-25 March, we lost 80% of our workforce and we had 25,000 orders as against peak of 150,000 orders and that was scary," says Hari Menon, CEO, Big Basket.
"One communication I have been giving my employees since March is that their safety is more important than the business," says Menon.
"Customers understand we are going through a crazy situation. They don't expect urgent deliveries anymore. All they want is a good delivery, which is just make sure you deliver what we ordered," he adds.
“We were down to just 20% of our workforce, and we were down to delivering 25,000 orders a day, from a peak of around 150,000 orders (daily) that we used to deliver pre lockdown," he said. Read the full interview here.
Meena Ganesh on healthcare
Customers are now “willing to look at technology-based healthcare, devices, and community-based healthcare," and asking for it, she said. “We are also doing some things we would have never dreamt -- for instance, carrying out chemotherapy administration at home," she added. Read the full interview here.
The cautious entrepreneurs
"An entrepreneur need not be Alexander The Great right now, conquering new horizons," says Meena Ganesh, CEO and MD, Portea Medical.
"People are no longer looking for facility-based care," says adds.
"Covid will give a breather to entrepreneurs who have been chasing growth," says Meena Ganesh when asked if it's the time for the "cautious entrepreneurs".
Agarwal on Covid-19 crisis
'We'll come stronger out of the Covid-19 crisis in manufacturing, healthcare etc," said Agarwal.
"We should be okay with failure right now because innovation will thrive during this period," he added.
Time for local stores to redefine themselves: Agarwal
"As human beings, there are a lot of things we will be thinking about that will redefine who we are and the same is with the companies, he added.
Idea of local shops will help local stores in redefining themselves from being either an offline or online store to just be a store for customers and be customer-focussed," said Agarwal.
In April, Amazon India had launched ‘Local Shops on Amazon’.
Innovation amid Covid-19
"We need to think long term from here. Innovation will thrive during this period. This is the time to use technology and buyers should understand how they can serve the customers," said Agarwal.
Social distancing norms will come to the fore due to Covid-19: Amazon India head
"We have more than 6 lakh sellers and they use Amazon to expand their reach. Because of covid -19, Amazon's sellers are now looking to reach locally as well due to social distancing norms and this nuance came to the fore," says Amazon India head
"In a country like India which has dense population, it is not easy to operate amid pandemic", added Agarwal
Customers will be looking for trust from e-commerce firms in a post-Covid world: Amit Agarwal
"Small actions from e-commerce firms will go a long way in establishing customer trust. In post-Covid world, customers will be looking for trust from e-commerce firms," said Amit Agarwal, Country Head, Amazon India.
In April, Amazon India launched ‘Local Shops on Amazon’
Read full interview here.
Will the covid-19 crisis metamorphose the classroom education/learning process?
"The ‘classrooms of tomorrow’ will have technology at its core. The future will see us take a leap from the traditional one-to-many approach to blended one-on-one learning experiences, providing students the best of both physical and digital (learning)," said Byju Raveendran, founder and chief executive of online learning platform Byju’s in an interview with Mint.
Our key strength is in our people: Pradeep Dadha
"Covid-19 will affect businesses in much the same way it affects individuals. The weak are less likely to survive. Those that do make it through will emerge stronger. From a corporate standpoint, it has given us an opportunity to do some gap analysis under fire, to see what we could do differently in the future, and to recognize that our key strength is in our people," said Pradeep Dadha, founder and CEO, Netmeds
E-pharmacies have entered a new level, the 'appreciation' stage: Pradeep Dadha
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the speed to widespread acceptance of e-pharmacy. What was once conceived as a convenience has now been recognized as ‘lifeline of last resort’. In fact, we have exceeded the “acceptance" phase and have entered a new level, the “appreciation" stage. Pradeep Dadha, founder and chief executive officer of Netmeds said in an interview for Mint’s Pivot or Perish series.
One of the greatest rewards of meeting the challenge of supplying medicine under lockdown conditions is that we receive outpourings of approvals, heartfelt offerings of gratitude for services rendered and orders delivered.
Growth at all costs mindset has changed now: Harshil Mathur
The digital payments industry did not escape the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with the sector seeing a sharp drop in volumes. Harshil Mathur, co-founder and chief executive officer of payment solutions provider Razorpay, said in an interview for Mint’s Pivot or Perish series
Consumption slowdown will be extreme: Albinder Dhindsa
At a time most companies are facing a collapse in demand, online grocer Grofers is besieged by a flood of new customers. Once the peak of covid-19 passes, the company’s monthly order volumes will have risen by 30-35% from pre-covid levels Albinder Dhindsa, co-founder and chief executive officer, said in an interview as part of Mint’s Pivot or Perish Series. But a consumption slowdown is under way and will only get worse, he warned, and customers have already started switching to cheaper brands.
Govt stimulus is key to survival, says auto industry
In the first in a series of webinars from Mint’s Pivot or Perish campaign, automobile industry stalwarts comprising Maruti Suzuki India Ltd chairman R.C. Bhargava, Confederation of Indian Industry president Vikram Kirloskar, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) president Rajan Wadhera and MG Motor India president Rajeev Chaba delve into key issues affecting the sector amid a pandemic. Read more here
Automobile dealerships will definitely go more digital after covid: Partha Datta
Dealing with the covid-19 pandemic will require a pragmatic mix of well-established practices together with new ones, Partha Datta, president and managing director, FCA India Automobiles Pvt. Ltd, told Mint for its Pivot or Perish Series.
GST rates on cars should be cut immediately: Bhargava
"I would like an immediate cut in GST rates on automobiles. The three-year insurance and other charges should be made annual to reduce the upfront cost for the customer," said Bhargava.
It is a golden opportunity to create supply chain for EV industry: Wadhera
EV industry may take a break of a year or two but government should indulge right now and give a stimulus, said Wadhera.
Wadhera said that EVs represent an area wherein India can take a global lead as the technology is at its nascent stages. Read more here
Is the EV story on hold now?
Vikram Kirloskar, Vice-Chairman, Toyota Kirloskar Motor & President, CII said . "Post pandemic, we'll see more electrification of two-wheelers, three-wheelers and buses."
Oil prices will continue to be down and that's a challenge for EV industry, added Kirloskar.
Taxation in India for automobiles
Apart from 29-50% GST, states levy 4-20% of GST as one-time fee, which is not the case in EU where it's only 19% VAT or like 10% VAT in Japan: Bhargava
Automation of Indian auto industry will take time, says Bhargava
Automation of Indian auto industry will take time and it'll definitely will not happen within six months, says Bhargava. Automobiles are not the major source of pollution in India, he adds.
Demand revival: Rural Vs urban
This is a great opportunity for government's scrappage policy, said Chaba.
There should be some demand because of poor urban public transport in India, he added.
Lot of new things will happen, lot of innovation will happen, said Chaba.
Exports should be encouraged: Rajeev Chaba
Rajeev Chaba, president and MD of MG Motor India, said exports had been doing well for Indian auto industry. Exports have a lot of potential for Indian auto industry and it should be encouraged, he added.
Chaba also pointed that the decline in volume of vehicles sold in the domestic market will have a proportional bearing on the government’s revenues.
'We need huge demand stimulus'
Capacity utilisation will be 50%. However the bigger challenge will be on the demand side. To tide over the pandemic crisis, we need huge demand stimulus: Wadehra
Road to recovery: V shaped or gradual ?
We don't see likelihood of full capacity coming anytime soon. If the GDP grows at 2-3%, 18-24% is the degrowth. If the GDP is flat or negative, then the degrowth will be 35-40%, says Wadhera.
We need demand stimulus: Rajan Wadhera
The president of Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said demand-side stimulus is needed to support the recovery in the auto sector. Overall there has been an 18% growth for Indian auto industry in 2020.
The Siam president also added that auto industry may see changes in several facets of the trade including retail practices, dealing with labour and manpower among others. Read more
'India lacks political consensus on industrialisation'
According to Bhargava, the auto industry contributes almost 50% of the manufacturing sector and what happens in the auto sector will help shape the other parts of the industry as well.
"India needs bigger and bigger companies with bigger balance sheets over the next few years to get over pandemic," said Bhargava.