Home >Industry >Retail >Lessons learnt last year help firms tide over lockdown woes

Maharashtra may be under a lockdown, but at fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) firm Parle Products’ factory in suburban Mumbai, production is in full swing.

Since the lockdown began, 100 workers, or 30% of its workforce, have been staying on factory premises to avoid getting exposed to the outside world. And this, the company said, is a lesson from last year.

“We created residential facilities for workers last year and, thankfully, it is helping today. It can accommodate around 100 of our workers. Though the strength of people working is less than 50%, capacity utilization is 100%," said Mayank Shah, senior category head at Parle Products Pvt. Ltd.

Parle, however, is not alone in making this effort. As local lockdowns are imposed, firms are falling back on the learnings of 2020 to continue uninterrupted operations and supply of products.

Varun Berry, managing director, Britannia Industries Ltd, said the company has stocked its distributors adequately to meet any potential surge in demand and has also implemented a new real-time dealer management system that ensures quick conversion of orders, thereby ensuring product availability at any given time.

“Moreover, the brand mix is also being prioritized to meet distinct requirements across regions in the country, backed by appropriate inventory management at our depots and factories. All our factories are currently operating at optimal capacities to maximize the supply of our brands," Berry added.

When India went under a lockdown in March 2020, companies struggled with a lack of manpower and raw material, among other things. FMCG companies also had to request the government for exemption from movement restrictions by demanding the essential services tag. This year, however, the companies have been classified under the essential services segment, easing the movement of goods.

Besides, the 2020 lockdown also pushed many companies to adopt online sales strategies.

“A great learning from last year is FMCG products were in short supply, and there was huge demand, along with panic, among customers. This year, however, though there is some amount of panic, there will be no shortage, so the situation is better," added Shah.

At state-run Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd’s (BPCL) refineries, standard operating procedures put in place last year are being followed, with the refinery running in full swing.

“We are providing essential services and are thus allowed to function at full capacity. However, the measures we took and put in place since last year are helping us in the current situation," said a BPCL spokesperson.

BPCL said all critical supply locations continued operating during the lockdown period with all health, hygiene and safety measures in place.

With four petroleum refineries, more than 16,000 retail outlets and 6,000 LPG distributorships, BPCL said it has ensured sanitization of the facilities multiple times during the day, making it compulsory for all staff to wear masks at all times and practice social distancing along with frequent hand sanitization.

For its workforce, the company had also arranged for buses , which was sanitized after every trip is made to the refinery, last year. People were working in various shifts to maintain social distancing.

The company, however, expects some impact on fuel demand, with lockdowns in place and only 15% of the workforce allowed to work from offices in both private as well as public sectors.

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