New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Playing its part in the fight against the coronavirus crisis, one of India’s leading paint companies Asian Paints is working towards launching a complete range of innovative products in its health and hygiene segment.

In an exclusive conversation Jagran New Media, company’s MD and CEO Amit Syngle said that company is running the ‘Safe Painting Campaign’ to give people confidence that it was safe to get a set of painters to get your house painted.

Furthermore, Asian Paints has started ‘San Assure’ service through which people can get their homes, offices and shops sanitised. The company has also launched an anti-bacterial paint named ‘Royal Health Shield’, which according to Syngle, has been in high demand over the last two years.

Here are the excerpts from Amit Syngle’s conversation with Jagran New Media Senior Editor (News) Pratyush Ranjan:

Question: These are testing times of COVID-19 crisis. The first financial quarter is over, second quarter is underway. What is the condition of the markets and how has the pandemic hit the Indian economy? How are we going to overcome this uncalled-for situation?

Answer: The first quarter was unexpected. We had never thought it will go this way. April was a washout quarter since we were in lockdown since March. In May, we saw a lot of pent up demand which resulted in good business, specially in Tier-3 and Tier-4 cities. Compared to May 2019, this year our business was around 80 per cent.

When people got accustomed with the crisis situation, new demands started coming in, particularly from Tier-2, Tier-3 and Tier-4 cities. To meet these new demands, we tried several things among which was our ‘Safe Painting Campaign’, to assure the customers that it is safe for them to let painters and contractors come home. So, if you see, June was a good month for us and we recorded double-digit volume growth.

Comparing to the April-June quarter of last year, we recorded 60-65 per cent sale in the same quarter this year. We assume that if this crisis situation improves in the coming times, then the growth rate should also increase.

Question: How dependable is Asian Paints’ ‘Safe Painting’ service for houses and the environment?

Answer: People are cautious nowadays. They are concerned whether it will be safe for them to let painters come to their house. Through Safe Painting campaign, the first thing we do is to remove that fear from people’s mind as the painters and contractors who come to your house are trained by the company. They come with complete equipment and ensure all safety measures. They come with face masks, face shields, gloves and sanitiser and ensure you that the work they are doing is completely safe. This is the brand promise of Asian Paints.

The service is environment-friendly as well. The anti-bacterial paints used by us and the sanitisation process are completely safe as the products have no such ingredients which can harm the environment.

Question: Reports have suggested that Asian Paints is also entering the health and hygiene sector. Please shed some light.

Answer: We have been working in the health and hygiene sector over the last 2-3 years. We already have one such product ‘Royal Health Shield’ which is an anti-bacterial paint. This product has been in trend over the last two years. We have also launched sanitisers during COVID times on recommendations of Health Ministry and Ministry of Chemicals. Our range of sanitisers include a range of innovative products like hand sanitiser, sanitiser spray and disinfectant sanitiser spray.

Along with this, we have started sanitisation service named ‘San Assure’ through which you can get your house, office and shop sanitised. Recently, we also launched a new product called ‘Royal Health Shield Clear’. Several other companies are working in this field and the health and hygiene will prove to be a crucial one in the coming days.

Question: How is Asian Paints helping dealers in the current crisis situation?

Answer: We have always considered dealers and retailers as our partners. As soon as lockdown restriction ease in cities, we sanitise dealers’ shops for no charge. This creates a sense of safety among dealers and workers in their shops. We have also provided the facility of credit layer for those who want to enter the business but are facing financial strains.

At several locations, we are also providing insurance facility for those working at sellers’ shops. This gives them a sense of security that they have a medical insurance in case of any unlikely situation. Similarly we are giving them business leads so that they feel that their business is growing. We have also extended financial aid to several retailers.

Question: Paint companies are using technology at a large scale. What is Asian Paints doing in this aspect?

Answer: Being the industry leaders, we are trying to implement mechanisation by introducing technology in the painting process. We have introduced several mechanised tools in the market, which were never there till date. For instance, we can talk about sprayers, which involves the mechanised way of spraying. Similarly, we have introduced sanding machine. There are several other such tools in the market to introduce mechanisation in the process, which will eventually increase the productivity.

We also have visualisation technology for customers through which they can have an idea of how their house will look like after being painted, even before it is done. We are introducing several other such technologies in the market.

Question: Asian Paints has a considerable share in the decorative painting segment. How can more consumers choose to go for this segment and how are you planning to increase your presence in this segment?

Answer: We always try to attract customers will new innovations. There is always a scope of innovation in the segment of decorative painting. Nowadays, we spend a lot of time at home which makes the house a very important aspect. So, it becomes important to introduce customers with new products and textures. We are making all attempts increase the market with new technologies and products because per person consumption of paint in India is way too less as compared to western countries.

Question: Amit Ji, you have a vast experience. What is your advice to the government during these tough time of pandemic and economic slowdown?

Answer: We request the government to maintain steadiness in policies as lockdown uplifting and reimposition at several places leads to complex situations for the industry. Secondly, there are a lot of restrictions on the industry in order to curb the spread of the virus. The government should interact more comprehensively on this. Other than this, giving more money in the hands of customers can be very beneficial for the industry. For this, the government can make changes in GST slabs. Although there are several other things which are not in government’s control. If we are not able to control the COVID situation, then it will become difficult for all to work in such environment.

Question: What is the company’s plan to increase its presence in the global markets?

Answer: Talking about the global business, our last quarter has been better than what our business in India. This happened because the impact of lockdowns have been comparatively less on Middle East and African economies and the business has also been better there. We are introducing new products and technologies in those countries as well and making sure that we don’t have to depend on import and export by keeping the prices in control through local production. Our attempt is to be among the top companies in countries where we are expanding our footprints.

Question: What is your strategy to increase your share in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities?

Answer: Our outreach in Tier-3 and Tier-4 cities has always been strong as the number of sellers there is quite high. We are not just concerned about increasing access to those areas. Our distribution system and reach in these cities is excellent. We have started new practices in these cities. For example, in these cities, we have started 'Safe Painting Companion' in a very strong way. We have put new products of waterproofing in the market. New items like decorations, textures have been put in the market for decoration, so our effort is that cities of category three and four do not lag behind metro and T1 cities in any case. The things we are offering in metro and T1 would like to be given in category three and four because customer demand and curiosity are same everywhere. We want to complete it.

Watch: Interview of Amit Syngle (MD & CEO, Asian Paints) with Pratyush Ranjan (Senior Editor, Jagran New Media)

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta