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Too early to talk about what second wave’s impact will be on consumption, says HUL chief


The entire focus of the country now should be on taming the coronavirus and it is too early to say what impact the second wave of the pandemic will have on underlying offtake and consumption, (HUL) Chairman and Managing Director Sanjiv Mehta said on Thursday. The FMCG major will also cover for the vaccination of around 3 lakh people, which include not only its employees and their families but also those in its extended ecosystem.

“The entire focus of the country (now) should be in taming the virus, protecting the health and well-being of the people,” Mehta said while addressing a virtual quarterly earnings press conference.

He was responding to a query on the growth outlook under the current circumstances, where India is reeling under a devastating second wave of the pandemic.

With a Budget that was “absolutely amazing”, Mehta said, “this would have been a good year for the country” from a “resurgence of economic activity and growth” point.

He asserted that the company is still bullish on it “if we are able to tame the virus quickly”.

When asked if the possibility of multiple waves of the pandemic was of concern, he said, “Multiple waves, it would depend on the intensity. It would depend on how lethal they are…”

On the impact of the ongoing wave of COVID-19, he said, “As far as underlying offtake and consumption is concerned it is too early to say what impact…Supply chains are running, even in places where there is localised lockdown, stores are opening. The business, albeit impacted to some extent, it is still running.”

Mehta further said, “Let us wait and see how it pans out. At this stage, I firmly believe, looking at what has happened, it is not going to be as bad as what happened in the June quarter of last fiscal.”

Asked about any infections of HUL employees, he said, “There are pockets where despite our very high standards and protocol people have got impacted. So the entire focus has been how do we best look after them as far as possible.”

He said the company has decided to facilitate and “if necessary, pay for the vaccination not just for our employees and their families but all the people in our ecosystem. It comes to nearly 300,000 people, which includes salesmen and all. But yes we have a fair share of people who have been impacted.”

Mehta said HUL is talking to different hospitals for partnerships for the vaccination programme but not yet finalised as it is not clear how much vaccines will private hospitals get at the moment.

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