United Spirits Ltd Chairman M K Sharma today said the overall economy appears to be positive for the company, despite threats of prohibition. In his address to shareholders at the 18th Annual General Meeting of the company here, he said the year that went by was a challenging one, with complex regulations and continued legacy issues. “The overall economy appears to be positive to your company’s growth trajectory in spite of threat of prohibition in certain states,” Sharma said. “Going by the past trends, prohibition could not survive long as prohibition has its own ill-effects on the society such as increase in consumption of illicit liquor, increase in use of drugs, apart from putting strain on the revenue of the state governments,” he said.
However, as a responsible citizen of the society, USL is promoting responsible drinking and is training some of the NGOs who are helping in educating younger population on responsible drinking and helping in de-addiction, he added. Sharma took over as Chairman from the embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya in February last year. Mallya exited from the board of United Spirits after a long-drawn tussle between him and the majority owner, UK’s Diageo, following allegations of irregularities on loans given to UB Group companies. Sharma said, “if we look back at the year that went by, it was a challenging one, with regulations becoming more and more complex and the continued legacy issue taking lot of management time and bandwidth.” He pointed out that the impact due to the Supreme Court order banning alcohol beverage outlets in the vicinity of state and national highways was one among the challenges faced by the company.
“Timely interventions, out of box solutions and rallying of employees to mitigate these risks as quickly and effectively possible has helped us survive and grow during this year.” On a transformation journey in the last two years, the company was powered by the vision to become the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer goods company in India, he said. “It has the strategic road map on five strategic pillars to steer its future growth trajectory,” he said.
The five pillars include strengthening and accelerating programmes, driving out cost to invest in growth, corporate citizenship and creating a future ready organization, he said. He said the company was the largest spirits manufacturing company in India and second largest by volume globally, with a strong portfolio of trusted brands across categories. “Your company has a strong footprint with access to 60 manufacturing facilities including franchise units spread across majority of states and union territories across India enabling faster turnaround of products..,” he added.
Explaining the performance of the company last year, Sharma said it was driven by initiatives such as productivity and operational efficiency.