It was not untouched by the COVID-19 epidemic that Godrej Appliances, the first Indian corporation to make refrigerators, was in the business of manufacturing refrigerators. While the pandemic is underway, the company has continued to advance in the “home appliances” business by producing important technology, such as the medical refrigerator, which is used to store vaccines.
During his recent visit to Kathmandu, Salam Sonamani Singh, associate general manager and head of exports at Godrej Appliances, discussed the challenges and market strategies that lie ahead, as well as new Godrej goods, with Bijay Laxmi Duwal of The Himalayan Times.
The breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic affected all enterprises throughout the world. To what extent has it had an impact on Godrej’s operations?
The lockdown during the first wave of the COV-ID-19 pandemic had an influence on us, as did the subsequent lockdown. For example, our market did not suffer significantly in other parts of the world, such as East Africa and West Africa.
However, in India, Nepal, and developed countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, there was a complete lockdown, and several of our companies were forced to close for a few months. There was an immediate negative impact as a result of the lockdown in March and April, which was the busiest season for the appliance manufacturing industry.
It was a rare and unexpected epidemic that took everyone by surprise. Our companies were not prepared for what was to come.
Initially, there was a significant obstacle to overcome. Some raw materials were formerly imported from foreign countries, but the supply chain was disrupted as a result of government limitations.
The cost of the imported commodities increased as a result of the increase in demand. As a result, the price of commodities such as copper and resin has risen as well.
What is your impression of the Godrej Nepali market in the midst of the pandemic, according to you?
During the shutdown, the localisation ratio of raw materials for our production with self-reliance, also known as ‘Atmanirvar,’ improved significantly – this represents a significant opportunity and benefit for Godrej manufacturing enterprises across India. In a number of categories, we are now self-sufficient. With the COVID-19 came many changes to people’s lives as well: we started working from home, children started taking online courses, and young couples who don’t have time to cook now choose to cook in the microwave. Despite the fact that there was an instant impact, the appliances were not significantly harmed.
The need for a microwave oven has increased, as have the sales of washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators, all of which have increased. As a result of the epidemic, there was an increase in demand for household appliances.
Despite the difficulties in lockdown, we have established an e-platform for our dealers and distributors in collaboration with the experienced team at CG as well as Godrej’s training and assistance. As a result, Godrej has performed well even during the pandemic. During the pandemic of the previous financial year, the company had strong revenue growth.
The shutdown in May and June will have little impact on our revenue growth this year, which we expect to be around 10%.
How has Godrej managed to stay afloat in Nepal in the face of the epidemic?
In Nepal, in particular, logistical arrangements for e-commerce are a significant difficulty because we only have dealers and sub-dealers at this time. As there was no logistic infrastructure for e-commerce in Nepal, altering the supply chain and delivering the items through an electronic platform posed the most difficult obstacle. That is why we assisted in the development of an online platform for our dealers in Nepal. On the internet, you can only see photographs and a few data about appliances; however, clients who want to buy a refrigerator want to see and feel the appliance before they buy it. In this regard, the acceptability of electronic trade remains a significant issue. A great deal of promotion was done through social media. Sales demonstrations were conducted by video call, and after-sales care was also carried out via video call as well.
Consequently, we were able to overcome and maintain our obstacles thanks to modern technologies. We’ve also been following proper safety practices in the showroom, including arranging for social distancing and sanitizing the environment.
What are the primary brand categories that have remained in business after the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nepal began to spread?
Dishwashers, microwave ovens, and front-load washing machines are among the most notable home appliance products to be introduced in this country. People are claiming that COVID-19 will be here in a variety of forms, and we are hearing a lot about vaccine boosters these days. In order for a vaccine to be effective, it must be administered at the proper temperature. Because of this, there will be a significant demand for medical refrigerators or cold storage facilities that can maintain the vaccine at the optimal temperature.
As a result, Godrej is introducing a medicinal refrigerator.
We have already begun discussions regarding our strategy with representatives from the Nepali government and non-governmental organizations.
Earlier this year, Godrej announced the introduction of its medical refrigerator for vaccine storage as well as its blood bank.
Tell us about Godrej Business Company’s market share in Nepal before and after the shutdown.
Prior to the lockout, we had a market share of approximately 12 percent in our primary product category – refrigerators. However, as a result of our activities since the epidemic last year, our market share is now estimated to be around 15%.
Refrigerators have a lot higher demand and a far larger market size than any of the other product categories. As a result, the refrigerator will continue to be our leading product for business and revenue growth among our primary categories. There are a variety of frost-free and direct-cool freezers to choose from. Because of the shift in lifestyle, we are attempting to be the market leader in the home appliance category by 2022 with innovative new products.
What distinguishes Godrej appliances from the competition?
Every Godrej appliance has its own set of unique selling points. As an example, a medical refrigerator, which can operate without the use of an electric power source for 11 days, can maintain the optimal temperature required for the vaccine (between four and eight degrees Celsius). The R290 refrigerator is the most environmentally friendly product available, as it has no ozone depletion potential and no global warming potential.
To what extent does Godrej want to modernize its product offering in Nepal? – What measures does it intend to employ in order to further penetrate the market?
In the refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher, a new line of products has been added to the lineup.
Deep freezers have been reserved, and air conditioners will be reserved shortly. We will be working on introducing environmentally friendly air conditioners in Nepal.
We are working on expanding our distribution channel, and we would like to broaden our reach as well as our distribution channel or retail channel. In addition, we are working on a special scheme. In collaboration with professionals from the CG group and the type of service network we have in place, we will be working on ways to strengthen and ensure that our after-sales support is improved within 24 hours of receiving customer complaints.
So, how do you feel about the relationship between Godrej and CG Energy? What steps are being taken by both companies to further improve their partnership?
Godrej and Company has been in business for 125 years. In India, it is a well-known brand with widespread recognition. I am pleased to report that one out of every three Indians uses a Godrej product at some point in their lifetime. For the second time, both companies have comparable visions: for CG, it is readily affecting people’s lives, and for Godrej, it is in every home and in every office.
The objective is quite clear: we both want to make a positive difference in as many lives as possible through our world-class products and services. So, when it comes to the ethical aspect, both firms believe in the appropriate methods and ethical business practices, which also contribute to the development of trust amongst us. As a result, we are delighted to have a capable partner in the CG group in Nepal, which is the country’s first conglomerate corporation.
The Himalayan Times will publish a version of this item in print on December 25, 2021, and online on December 25, 2021.