Interview: Nyrika Holkar, executive director, Godrej & Boyce

‘More opportunity to make in India now’

Interview: Nyrika Holkar, executive director, Godrej & Boyce
Perhaps the biggest takeaway for the organisation has been openness to learning and unlearning.

In its 125th year, Godrej & Boyce has made sustainability the cornerstone of its growth strategy. Nyrika Holkar, the company’s executive director, talks about the company’s goals, opportunities from smaller markets and the evolving organisational culture in this interview with Christina Moniz. Excerpts:

How did the pandemic years impact the organisation from a growth standpoint? How would you sum up its performance over the past two years?

Our turnover was at about 10,000 crore in FY20, and went down to around9,800 crore in FY21 and then in FY22, we went back up to `11,800 crore. The B2C businesses (which include appliances, furniture and security) usually account for more than half of our revenues, and these businesses were impacted during the pandemic as retail and stores were shut. We shrank in the last two years because the retail businesses were hit. However, we saw a huge uptake in our industrial products businesses such as aerospace, which works with global players such as Rolls Royce and Boeing. Additionally, the government’s focus on ‘Make in India’ also boosted the manufacturing business. The B2C businesses are now seeing much stronger market sentiment and we are very optimistic about these segments. We have also seen a good uptake in our construction business, so we are positive on the growth front for the next few years.

What were the key learnings for the organisation from the challenges thrown up by the pandemic?

Perhaps the biggest takeaway for the organisation has been openness to learning and unlearning. So we have focussed on education and upskilling our staff since the pandemic. The second key learning has been flexibility with remote working. We would never have thought three years ago that a company like ours could go digital overnight and switch to remote working. Outcomes and deliverables have become more important. Flexibility is also key to ensuring that women remain in the workforce, since they were disproportionately impacted during the pandemic. Also, within the organisation, we are encouraging new ideas and experimentation under our existing ‘Sprint’ programme. This allows employees to propose new ideas and prototype them. It also enables teams to collaborate and interact better, and encourages a diversity of ideas.

Godrej & Boyce has varied businesses, catering to different consumer segments. What growth opportunity do you see in smaller rural markets, especially for appliances and security systems?

The growth potential varies according to the sector, but we see a huge opportunity for the Godrej Appliances and Interio businesses in the rural, rurban, tier-III and IV markets where penetration levels are growing faster. For our locks business too, we plan to expand our presence to 200 more towns this year, and are already seeing disproportionate growth in the tier-II and III markets. For Godrej Securities (with offerings like vaults and surveillance solutions), which is more niche, we see greater growth in tier-I and metro markets. Since awareness levels for this segment are also low, our efforts are concentrated in driving up awareness. Growth for this segment is also driven by public and private sector businesses.

This is Godrej & Boyce’s 125th year. What would be the organisation’s key focus areas in the coming decade?

In this post-pandemic context, there are a lot of new priority areas for us. With our aim to double revenues over the next five years, we are also looking principally at sustainability and innovation across our 14 businesses. We see a lot of opportunity to improve products and services in the context of sustainability. We plan to reduce carbon intensity by 60% and double energy productivity, two targets that we aim to achieve by 2030. We have set a revenue target of 32% from environmentally sustainable products.

We are also looking very closely at digitalisation across our businesses. Further, although we have been manufacturing in India since our inception, there is now a lot more opportunity thanks to the government’s focus on Atmanirbhar Bharat, whether it is in products, consumer appliances, furniture, aerospace or even in B2B offerings. Earlier it wasn’t easy to ‘make in India’. From a company mission perspective, our focus is on enhancing the customer experience by re-evaluating our offerings from an end-to-end perspective.

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