Unilever CEO looks to double Indian business

Mumbai: Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever, who had reportedly referred to Hindustan Unilever, the Indian outfit of the global FMCG major, as an ‘underperformer’, said he was hoping to double the business in India. But he didn’t specify over what time that could happen. Addressing a press conference on Monday, the Unilever chief, who is understood to be unhappy with the Indian outfit’s performance, said he hoped his ‘sense of urgency’ had been well-received by employees here.

Making light of his reported ’unhappiness,’ Polman said, “You have to be worried about the competition and you have to set the bar higher, but I am looking at the opportunities.”

Referring to the recently introduced challenging compensation plan, Polman said that making more parts of the compensation ‘performance-based’ should make it more motivating for employees.

Polman said Hindustan Unilever would continue to remain competitive in all segments in the marketplace. “We are focused on the consumer and will make sure we are competitive. That’s why we have reacted to the competition in some categories, which is the right thing to do over the long term,” Polman said, adding that HUL products were of superior quality. “The quality of our Rin beats the product of our competition, which has lowered the price,” he said.

Polman observed that the company would grow ‘profitably’ as it invested more to stay in the lead. That apart, the time-to-market, he noted, had crashed while the competitive-intensity had increased. The Unilever chief observed that ‘market development’ and ‘innovation’ would be the key to growth and said the company intended to address all price points to straddle the market.

Nitin Paranjpe, MD and CEO, Hindustan Unilever, pointed out that the company had recently launched a variant of Brooke Bond tea at a price point where it had not been earlier present. Paranjpe also said the company was focusing on channels such as modern trade. Asked why the company’s foods business had seen sluggish growth even on a small base, Polman said there was potential for the foods business and would like to grow it.

Source: Financial Express