Manoj Tulsian, Joint MD & CEO, Greenply, talks about initiatives to prepare the company for long-term growth, focus on empowering people, sustainability and product innovation, and his belief that despite the pandemic, the market will remain buoyant.
Please give us an overview of Brand Greenply since you joined the company in February 2020 and facets of the transformation process that has been your focus area so far.
Since I joined, I have been working on all dynamics to increase the‘consistent’ brand value proposition of Greenply as a well-established brand in plywood and allied products, in the minds of consumers.To bring about transformation for long-term growth, we are investing heavily in enhancing the management bandwidth, infusing new energies, best practices, and next level of leadership.Our focus is onharnessing the power of technology and innovation, and creating a digital ecosystem for a smarter organisationand to enhance efficiencies at all levels. We have beentightening credit norms for efficient capital management and penetration into rural markets. In FY21 itself, despite COVID-related challenges, we have added around 450 dealers in rural and semi-urban areas. We also expanded into new environment-friendly product lines with the revolutionary E-0 plywood. We are on fast-track mode in implementing new projects andmoving towards capacity expansion to meet the emerging demand, not just in the existing business line but also by entering new business segments,such asthe MDF boards business. The entire team is working energetically towards transformation of the organisation.
What has been the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business? How did it affect revenues and operations and are you back to normal functioning of the supply chain and sales?
Various curbs such as regional lockdowns affected the supply chain management. Plants were non-operational for some time, and even after the relaxation of lockdown, plants had to operate on lower capacity due to labour shortage. The situation was further aggravated with rise in raw material cost, affecting profitability. Going forward, we see better traction in the industry, with a positive change in consumer sentiments.I believe the market will remain buoyant. In addition, supply chain bottlenecks for unorganized players made consumers shift to branded products, leading to growth of the organized segment.
Greenply’s advertising campaigns have stood out over the years, as do the latest ads ‘The Table’, ‘Khud bane Ho Toh, Greenply Banta Hain’ and 'E-0 chuno, Khulke Saans Lo' etc. What lies at the core of your advertising and marketing strategy?
It’s important for a category leader like us to act,feel, and behave in a manner that portrays Greenplyto be what it is. We design ads to connect with the consumer at a deeper level. We can strike a chord with our consumers if we perceive the product and the brand from their point of view. We engage with them by passing a simple message that furniture is part of their daily activities and emotions of life and the bond they share withfurniturecreates a memorable and authentic experience of togetherness.
Tell us about Greenply’s zero-emission plywood to safeguard indoor air quality and other product innovations. What has been the market response to them?
People are more health conscious than ever before and thus,it’s important for companies like us to realise what surrounds us is free from hazardous gases.E-0 is one such power-packed product equipped with features like fire retardant and acoustic properties. Itconforms strictly to the global E-0 grade emission standards used for making furniture, partitions, panelling, false ceilings,etc. It safeguards the air quality in interior spaces to create healthy homes. The market response has been very encouraging,and we extended E-0 compliance to the entire range of our Green and Optima products.
In a fiercely competitive market, what is the business strategy that has worked for Greenply over the years?
I believe it’s the resilience of the organization to withstand the adversities that has always helped it to outshine. At Greenply, differentiation has always been the key propeller of our growth strategy. We have kept our people at the core and nurtured them and provided a growth atmosphere. Our COVID cover policy ‘Kavach’, has enhanced the financial and emotional security of employees in pandemic times. During FY21, we initiated our first ever ESOPs grant, sharing wealth with the employees. The GreatPlace to Work certification received by Greenply twice in a row, in 2020 and 2021,validated our people-friendly policies across the organisation. We believe people will help us foster our brand and will help us realise our long-term goals.Sustainability and product innovationis another critical area of our growth strategy, and we are making regular strategic investments, not just for our direct stakeholders but also society at large. Our innovative E-0 product is an example of this. Our plantation drive across facilities gives us uninterrupted access to high-quality timber as part of our sustainable growth agenda, which also yields significant benefits for farmers.
What are the top three priorities for Greenply right now? What are your expansion plans, in India and outside the India market?
Currently, our top three priorities are our people, product, and processes. Nurturing our people has, is and will remain our foremost priority. As the company prepares to scale new horizons, we are enhancing the management bandwidth in all departments. With rapid surge in Omicron cases now, safety of our people remains utmost priority and we have initiated work from home wherever possible.
To expand product portfolio, we are entering theMDF boards business.The unit is located at Vadodara, Gujarat with an installed capacity of 800 CBM/day and all the major machineries are European. We will be manufacturing exterior, interior, high density high moisture resistant(HDHMR), boiling water resistant (BWR) range of MDF products. Since the Western belt is an untapped market, it will help us capitalise on opportunities there. We are committed to achieving commercial production by Q4FY23.
Further, we are expanding our existing plywood capacity base by setting-up a new unit at Sandila, Uttar Pradesh, where we will be manufacturing value-added products. The unit is expected to commence operations by Q4FY22. We have also invested in two units in Bareilly, UP with JVsto manufacture plywood, doors, film face plywood and allied products.
To make our processes future-ready, we are moving towards ‘Industry 2.0’, putting in place new systems and processes to strengthen our digital ecosystem. Asingle mobility platform marks the entire activity and engagement of the sales team on a real-time basis. For our channel partners, we have created a web-based platform, providing end-to-end integration of their activities. We don’t have any expansion plan outside India.As for our current international operations, we are looking to enhance the utilisation of our face veneer unit in Gabon, through which we are serving India, Europe, Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
What are your efforts at building sustainability into the business?
We have regular strategic investments towardssustainability. We have extensive research for new techniques for plantation to getbetter yield with quality timber in a short time. Our aim is to achieve raw material self-sufficiency and its sustained availability in future.
We are the pioneer in E-0 plywood products in India. It is one of the highest formaldehyde emission standards, along with California Air Resources Board (CARB) certification, issued by Environment Protection Agency (EPA). In addition, we are also the proud holder of Forest Management Certification from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for our sustainable plantation unit located in Tizit, Nagaland.
Going forward, what are the challenges that you foresee before the company and the overall wood panel industry?
One of the bigchallengesfacing the industry is the dominantunorganised segment.Plywood accounts for nearly 58-60% of the entire wood panel industry, and almost 75% of market-share is captured by unorganised players.But now, ashift is happening with GST compliances and other measures to formalise the economy. Also, there is a consumer mindset shift towards best quality and branded products.
Fluctuation in raw material pricesposes a major challenge. In the past 1-2 years, raw material prices witnessed a steep rise. The prices are currently stable,in fact melamine prices have come down after the second half of November 2021,giving big relief to the entire wood panel industry.
Now, the Omicron wave could pose a fresh risk to the ongoing economic recovery and affect consumer sentiments. If pandemic fears prevail, production loss may happen in case of further lockdown and revenues could be adversely affected.
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