by Suhani Adilabadkar
The famous campaign by Nestle India, ‘Badal life ki raftaar’ is a good catchphrase for the coronavirus lockdown. Social distancing and work from home is the new normal for our corporate and personal lives, and it is forcing us to re-evaluate how we spend our time.
Maggi being completely out of stock is another new normal. The company manufacturing it, Nestle India, touched a new 52-week high on April 17, 2020. Nestle has operated for the past 106 years in India, setting up its first factory in Moga, Punjab in 1961 to spur milk production. The company, subsidiary of Nestle S.A of Switzerland with 8 manufacturing facilities, has become a familiar name for generations of Indians with Cerelac, Lactogen, Nanpro, Maggi and Nescafe. Highly urban-centric, with products built for convenience, Nestle garners three-fourths of its revenues from urban consumers, while rural areas account for the remaining one-fourth of its revenue basket.
Nestle grew at CAGR of 10% and 28% for revenue and PAT respectively over the past three years.
Nestle stands as the market leader in 85% of its product portfolio. Nestle has launched 61 new products in India in the past three years.
The company is setting up a new Maggi plant at Sanand in Gujarat with an investment of Rs. 700 crore in the next two years.
Nestle reported revenue growth at 9% YoY while operating profit stood at Rs. 678 crore, rising 23% YoY and Net Profit jumped 38% YoY in Q4CY19.
Part of the essentials sector during the COVID-19 pandemic
Food processing is one of the few industries allowed to be functional during the lockdown. Like the rest of the economic units, manpower and material shortages and logistics issues have impacted its operations. Consumers have resorted to panic buying as fear has grasped the entire nation with respect to availability of food and essential services.
In this respect, Suresh Narayanan, Chairman and MD, Nestle India said, “There have been issues of settling in, but with the seriousness of government both at the centre and state level, things are improving in the past couple of few days”. He further added that Nestle factories at Moga in Punjab and Samalkha in Haryana have been ramped up with a low level of workforce. Milk supply from about 100,000 farmers is also intact due to support from the Punjab state government. The industry as a whole is reportedly set to ramp up its production levels to cater to essential food products, while following the guidelines laid down by the government.
Nestle India reported a strong December Quarter CY19
Nestle reported strong topline performance with operating revenues growing 9% YoY at Rs. 3,149 crore in Q4CY19 against Rs. 2,897 crore in the same period, previous year. Domestic sales jumped 10% YoY for the December quarter CY19 while exports declined 9.7% YoY due to lower coffee exports to Turkey. Operating profit stood at Rs. 678 crore compared to Rs. 551 crore in the corresponding December quarter, previous year rising 23% YoY in spite of rising cost of raw material (up 22% YoY) and higher employee costs (up 15% YoY).
Operating margin came out at 21.5% in Q4CY19 compared to 19% in the same period, previous year. Net Profit jumped 38% YoY at Rs. 473 crore against Rs. 342 crore in corresponding quarter, previous year aided by lower corporate tax. Speaking on fourth quarter results, Mr. Suresh Narayanan said, "I am pleased to share that we have delivered broad based volume and mix led growth. This is a trend we have demonstrated consistently in recent years. MAGGI Noodles, KITKAT, Nestle MUNCH, CEREGROW, MAGGI Masala Magic, NESCAFE and NANGROW delivered strong performances during the year”.
Moving beyond Maggi
Nestle got a wake-up call with a five month ban on Maggi in 2015. Revenue dropped 17% and PAT declined 52% YoY by the end of CY 2015 paying a heavy price for its high dependence on single product, lower product innovation and lack of competitive aggression. The company has since then geared itself up for growth, swishing past HUL and Britannia in terms of revenue, with net profit growing at CAGR of 10% and 28% respectively over the past three years.
HUL has grown at a CAGR of 7% and 13% while Britannia grew at 9.5% and 12% with respect to revenue and PAT respectively. Nestle was in the same lane, growing in single digits - 9% and 7% for revenue and PAT respectively between CY 11-14. The 2015 fiasco got Nestle to notice its overdependence on Maggi and forced the Swiss Juggernaut to ignite its innovation engine around product development. Since then, Nestle has launched a whopping 61 products in the past three years. The new avatar is definitely at work, as Maggi is currently at around 59% market share, down from its pre-2015 levels which was around 75%.
Nestle is no more a silent market player, focused on product quality and urban positioning. The company is driving in the fast lane, with the relaunch of Milo in August 2019. With Horlicks being acquired by Unilever and Complan picked by Zydus, Milo is still positioned at premium pricing as a sports drink. The new product arsenal of Nestle has witnessed a success rate of 70% and currently contributes 4% of total revenues.
Nestle stands as the market leader in 85% of its product portfolio. Nestle Cerelac (instant cereals) has ah 96.5% market share, Lactogen and Nan Pro (instant formula) has 66.6%, Maggi Pazzia (instant pasta) dominates with 74%, Nescafe in instant coffee segment owns 51%, Nestle EveryDay (tea creamer) has 44% and Kit Kat, Milky Bar, Munch all together have a market share of 63%. All these products are not only market leaders but number one in their respective segments, except Maggi sauce at runner up position with 20% market share.
Amidst slowing demand with rising raw material prices (wheat, cereals, milk, sugar, palm oil) and dependent on vagaries of monsoon trends,Nestle has moved up the value chain while working to maintain its product quality.
Nestle recently changed its operating model where instead of painting the entire domestic market with the same brush, the company divided the country in 15 clusters, targeting customers on the basis of their habits and local preferences with respect to food and level of income. For instance, coffee is a social drink in the north, and a morning ritual in southern India.
Another strategy is the ‘out of home opportunity’ which earlier was a B2B business and has now moved into Maggi kiosks and Nescafe vending machines. The company is also focusing on e-commerce over the past three years with its revenue share increasing from 0.6% to 1.5% in CY19. Nestle India is also increasing the count of its manufacturing facilities by setting up a new Maggi plant at Sanand in Gujarat with investment of Rs. 700 crore in the next two years.