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Unilever CEO Shares His Optimism About Companies Looking to Register Company in India

In a recent interview Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever said that foreign company registration in India is becoming more lucrative for investors each day.

He says that the economy of India is vast and is growing at a rate of 5 to 6% and anybody with a mind for business would like to have that trajectory.

Hindustan Unilever (HUL) has doubled the business in the past seven to eight years and has created what would otherwise take a hundred years.

Speaking about the GST,, Paul Polman says that the Indian Prime Minister has set the bar higher for himself by setting out on various initiatives like Smart India, Make in India and Swachh Bharat. He further commented that he supports the Prime Minister in his initiatives as when the entire country is going to benefit from these efforts, HUL would be a beneficiary as well.

Unilever CEO explains that India is changing in a substantial manner and has gone from being underperforming to becoming an increasingly attractive platform for the global market, which explains the spike in the number of companies registering in India in the recent years.

The investment rate of HUL in India is very high with the new product programmes, acquisition programmes and the investment in the core business. In terms of innovation, the previous year had 30 to 35 major innovations throughout categories which are an indicator of the confidence they have in the constantly growing economy.

When asked about competitors like Patanjali, the Unilever CEO said that the challenges only give rise to new opportunities. He says that they are still the no. 1 in personal care and most other categories and have managed to double their business.

Polman says that they are continuously outgrowing the market and also see the importance of Ayurveda in the context of India. But when there is a customer base of 1.3 billion, it is difficult to find a competitive advantage. To begin something like Lever Ayush, they will have to be a 100% real and unique. They will be launching nationally soon enough, and it will be a huge opportunity for their growth in the Indian market.

In online business, he says that Unilever is on the trajectory to make a 5 billion euros business globally in e-commerce, which today is at 3% of the global market. He says that their growth rate in e-commerce is more than that of the global percentage.

With a growth rate of 30 to 40 % global increase in e-commerce, Polman says that their products would have a higher share in e-commerce than in conventional channels. They have been spending a lot of time in it and have been evaluating the ever so dynamic consumer habits.  This has changed the parameters of the cost of entry and building the brands. 

He acknowledges online market as a highly competitive market. However, if the business leaders of the world are to be consulted, they would agree that Unilever is among the top five companies that have worth. The company also agrees to be helping distributors to remain competitive. With new company registration in India becoming convenient, Polman says that there is the opportunity to coexist and investing in them for a longer term to upgrade their skills, technologies and more sophistication. 

With regard to their food products, he says that Unilever has built a sizable food business. However, it is a two-edged sword. The turnover is quick, but building of value is questionable. The business is all about value addition and the food market in India is relatively small. The Kissan brand is the leading brand in ketchup and Jams. And ever since it has been acquired by Unilever, the brand has been significantly strengthened.

Apart from that, he says that they are growing exponentially in the beverages section too, with Bru taking the spot of no.1 in coffee. Besides, the ice cream business is also growing fast with Magnum doing so well for them. Knorr in soups, meal maker and soupy noodles is leading in the race.

"Bru is no. 1 in coffee. One of our competitors said that they want to re-take the no. 1 spot, you cannot get a better compliment than that. And then, we have the ice-cream business, which is growing very fast."

When asked about the successor of HUL being Indian, Paul Polman says that Unilever is the best training school in the world. And it is a great platform to get recognised. There are various Indians in the other departments of the company, and so by the law of numbers, there will be an Indian CEO at one point since there is no dearth of talent in the country. He says that among the top 18 people reporting to him directly, 5 are Indians.
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