Manufacturing is one of the strongest pillars of any economy. COVID-19 has actually disrupted the entire economy and the manufacturing sector is experiencing strong winds. In the backdrop of COVID-19 Pandemic, it is important to understand the evolving dynamics of Indian manufacturing segment. In this bid, we interacted with Mr. Sunil Agarwal, Director of Vinod Cookware who is a second-generation entrepreneur and took up the mantle of taking the cookware empire to newer heights.
Serving the company for the past two decades, Mr Agarwal has become an important voice in the industry.
Here are the edited excerpts from the interaction between Faiz Askari of SMEStreet and Mr. Sunil Agarwal of Vinod Cookware.
Faiz Askari: Give us a brief about Vinod Cookware?
Sunil Agarwal: Vinod Cookware started its journey in the Year 1986, and today we are one of the oldest brands in cookware Industry. We have an extensive portfolio of more than 400 products which are divided into 7 different categories. Currently, we have three big Manufacturing units in Palghar in the outskirts of Mumbai spread across 15 acres and connected with more than 3000 dealers and retailers in the sector. We are one of the few brands who have taken several Health initiatives and launched a series of cookware, encouraging oil-free cooking with revolutionary technology. Where other brands, are focused only on affordable products, Vinod creates a niche for itself, by focusing on quality with functionality.
FA: How has the lockdown affected the operations at Vinod Cookware?
SA: Most of the things had been on standstill, but now our manufacturing unit has resumed operations by 33% as per the government guidelines. Currently, we have a disrupted supply chain to address, along with the ready stock which needs movement. Though the offline Markets have been shut, the online markets re-opening have brought little movement in the Industry. We are working in tandem with all relevant bodies and authorities to ensure that we maintain a good balance between business continuity and fluid market conditions.
FA: How are you engaging with your consumers amidst the crisis?
SA: Digitization, has been the need of the hour, thankfully Vinod had taken its first steps before the crisis situation. We have an active social media presence on platforms like Instagram and Facebook wherein we engage extensively with our audience with innovative content and activities to communicate. The latest Google study indicates key trends of search around the keywords ‘food, fitness and stress’. Since fitness and food are interconnected concepts, we have used our social media channels to devise campaigns that focus upon indoor fitness. #StayFitwithVinod is one such campaign that we have started in association with various Fitness Bloggers. We are also carrying out virtual workshops, with mothers, and the younger generation, who are exploring their interests in cooking. The most important thing now for us is to focus upon connecting with our audience and help them transition, during this time period.
FA: What is your strategy post lockdown to resume full-fledged manufacturing?
SA: Our main strategy right now is to ensure the safety of our workforce. Though we have resumed operations, but have kept a stringent check on safety norms. To resume full-fledged manufacturing, we shall resume production in phases. We will have to address the Logistics and also the derailed supply chain. We have ready inventory, which has grown several folds, hence the availability of truckers for customers to unload material will be a big issue. (Mayura to help)
FA: Tell us about your plans for the future?
SA: Understanding the current situation, we realized that with the changing consumer buying behaviour in this new normal, we need to revisit our already laid plans for FY 2020-21 as well and focus aggressively on digital adoption to help us recover for the lost time period and maintain business continuity. We aim to strengthen our existing online presence, enabling stronger customer traction on the products, via virtual demos, AR (augmented reality) and VR to enhance the customer experience. There are some new products in pipeline, but we shall announce the same, post-Covid times.