The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown managed to “wipe out” all the gains made by Dabur India Ltd in the earlier months of the fourth quarter, said the consumer goods company’s chairman, Amit Burman. In an interview with The Indian Express, he discusses how Dabur has been overcoming these challenges and what the government can do to support the industry during this time. Edited excerpts:
Has the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown affected the operations of your company and its personnel?
Dabur India Ltd continued to surge forward on its growth track through the first two months of the fourth quarter of 2019-20, with quarterly revenue from operations growing by 4.5 per cent till February-end. However, the exceptional event in the form of the COVID-19 outbreak and the resultant lockdown significantly impacted our business in March, which wiped out all the gain made in the earlier months.
The lockdown caused severe disruptions in our business and brought sales to a virtual standstill in the second fortnight of March.
As the lockdown restrictions eased gradually, Dabur has been at the forefront on delivering authentic ayurvedic solution. Demand patterns have changed significantly, with consumers increasingly seeking ayurveda-based interventions for boosting their immunity.
We are currently seeing a 400 per cent surge in demand for our flagship immunity booster Dabur Chyawanprash and an 80 per cent growth in Dabur Honey.
What are some of the basic aspects on which the government can support your company and the industry during these times?
Companies continue to face challenges, particularly in the manufacturing hubs, with regards to sourcing manpower. With migrant workers moving back to their villages, the availability of adequate manpower has become a serious issue, hampering scaling up of production to pre-COVID levels. We are increasing the sourcing of local manpower from nearby areas around our manufacturing units to meet the growing need for workmen.
The government should also consider levying a uniform 5 per cent GST for the entire ayurveda products and medicines categories, comprising classical, proprietary and OTC products.
What are your expectations on the performance of your company and the industry in the current financial year?
The situation is still fluid and I would not be in a position to give any guidance for 2020-21 fiscal.