After a decade of being under the shadows of market leader Parle Products, Britannia has finally nosed ahead and is set to maintain its lead, ushering in changes in its marketing strategy.

The biscuit maker has sharpened its distribution arsenal, pruned its sales force, and reduced its dependence on contract employees in order to maintain its momentum and continue to grow its share in the ₹25,000-crore biscuits market.

In April this year, Britannia overtook Parle Products by 0.5 percentage points in value terms at 28.2 per cent, according to the Nielsen report.

Good Day and Marie have been the key growth drivers for Britannia with both brands gaining significant share of one per cent plus in overall biscuit category in the last two years. With a presence in 3.5 million retail outlets including direct and indirect presence via wholesalers, Britannia is looking to more than double its direct reach to 1.5 million outlets by 2017.

“We want to ramp up distribution from seven lakh outlets last year to 15 lakh outlets by 2017 and get the right kind of distribution suited to the market. For instance, in urban locations we need to cater to the need for variety. In rural areas, we have to make sure of the availability of our products in the smallest of pockets and in intermediary markets, it is all about introducing premium products and scaling it up” Hemant Rupani, Vice-President, Sales, Britannia Industries Ltd, told BusinessLine .

Targeting to reach all villages and towns with 10,000 plus population this year, Britannia has mapped out its manager profile to match the complexity of the market. For instance, in Tamil Nadu which is a key market, the company has two Sales Operations Managers, whereas, Madhya Pradesh which accounts for smaller volumes and revenue, is manned by the conventional Area Sales Managers.

The sales team has been pruned down from 1,400 to 1,000 of which the number of contract employees has been brought down to 40 per cent.

“We converted the better contract employees to company resources and enhanced their roles and responsibilities. Now, contract employees only handle distant rural jobs. We have enabled our sales force to sell better with data and intelligence on smartphones” said Rupani.

The company has divided the Britannia portfolio of 140 active SKUs across 13 biscuit brands into two equal parts, so that two salesmen can handle the same market with better focus, delivering faster results.

Wholesale contribution

Britannia has reduced its dependence on wholesale outlets, as a result of which wholesale contribution to revenue fell by almost 500-600 basis points.

“Wholesalers tend to discount a lot and sell only what is in high demand. We let go of almost 20 per cent business in some channels like cash-and-carry,” said Rupani.

Until recently most of the manufacturing was done by third party manufacturers, leading to issues like low quality control and inability to respond to market needs quickly. “The game plan is to have more in-house plants for greater control. We are opening a new plant in Perundurai, Tamil Nadu, in December, and another one in Bidadi Industrial Estate, Karnataka, in January. At present, 60 per cent of our production is in-house from 30 per cent three years ago,” said Rupani.

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