Turn­around Lady

NA­DIA CHAUHAN HAS EN­SURED THAT HER BEV­ER­AGE BRANDS ARE AVAIL­ABLE IN EV­ERY NOOK AND COR­NER OF IN­DIA.

Business Today - - THE MOST POWERFUL WOMEN IN BUSINESS - BY AJITA SHASHID­HAR

NA­DIA CHAUHAN, Joint Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Parle Agro, has been her fa­ther Prakash’s big­gest critic since her child­hood. Prakash cre­ated the iconic bev­er­ages Thums Up, Gold Spot and Limca, first sought her feed­back when­ever they were ex­per­i­ment­ing with a new prod­uct. There­fore, join­ing her fa­ther’s busi­ness was a nat­u­ral choice. “I not only used to spend my va­ca­tions at my fa­ther’s of­fice learn­ing how to type from his sec­re­tary but also at­tended brand meet­ings and went for mar­ket vis­its,” she re­mem­bers.

When she joined the group in 2003, she was in charge of mar­ket­ing and in­no­va­tions. But the one thing that con­stantly both­ered her was that the com­pany was not grow­ing ac­cord­ing to its po­ten­tial. “In spite of hav­ing a huge sales force, we were stuck at dis­tribut­ing to four lakh out­lets.”

She took charge of sales and dis­tri­bu­tion of Parle Agro in 2013 and rolled out a trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme to set things right in the depart­ment. “I started re­struc­tur­ing

WHY SHE MAT­TERS Chauhan has in­te­grated much- needed tech so­lu­tions to boost dis­tri­bu­tion and sales

the whole sys­tem, bring­ing in a lot of IT in­te­gra­tion,” says Chauhan. She, how­ever, did not im­pose tech­nol­ogy on her not-so-tech-savvy team at one go. In­stead, she lis­tened to each prob­lem they faced and tried to solve them. The prob­lems were as ba­sic as cum­ber­some pa­per­work. “I never let them feel that some of their com­plaints were triv­ial. Sud­denly, the team felt their prob­lems were over, and they could fight for the busi­ness.” The tech­nol­ogy roll­out process was thus grad­ual, and it did not in­tim­i­date her sales force.

Chauhan’s ef­forts have paid off. Parle Agro bev­er­ages Frooti and Appy are now avail­able in two mil­lion stores across the coun­try. Its brands have the sec­ond high­est mar­ket share af­ter Coca-Cola’s Maaza. “Over the past few years, the mar­ket has reg­is­tered no growth, but we have grown 15-20 per cent year on year,” she claims. Chauhan and her team had set a goal five years ago that they would be­come a ` 5,000 crore com­pany by the end of 2018. She says they are close to achiev­ing it and Parle Agro brands are ahead of Co­caCola in six states.

Be­sides, tech­nol­ogy in­ter­ven­tion has en­abled her com­pany to fo­cus on hy­per­local­i­sa­tion. “We are go­ing as deep as pos­si­ble. The IT in­ter­ven­tion in sales has helped us look at even in­di­vid­ual stores. Hav­ing that kind of vis­i­bil­ity and real-time in­for­ma­tion would help you fine-tune strate­gies much faster.”

Ear­lier, the sales head of each state used to send a text mes­sage at the end of the day, giv­ing an up­date of the day’s sales, which was then tab­u­lated on an ex­cel sheet. Now it is about on-thes­pot in­for­ma­tion and mi­cro-de­tail­ing. “I know which SKUs are do­ing well in a par­tic­u­lar store, in a par­tic­u­lar area, and which are not. We can make al­ter­ations then and there. To add to this, we do not have the hi­er­ar­chies of an MNC. Hence, our go-to-mar­ket is much faster,” she says.

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