Panasonic India plans to resume production at its company-owned and third-party operated plants with 25 percent capacity in the coming weeks, as new guidelines for the extended lockdown came into effect from May 4.
Manish Sharma, President & CEO, Panasonic India, said, “Our TV manufacturing plant near Hyderabad, which is run by our third-party partner, will resume production by next week. We have got the requisite permissions for our other plants. Currently, we have enough inventory available with our distributors and at factory premises to meet consumer demand. As consumer demand picks up, we will begin operating our plants with 25 percent capacity in the coming weeks and gradually ramp it up to 50 percent capacity.”
The company said its corporate headquarters has opened up and it is in the process of resuming work at its branch offices, in-line with the respective State and local authority directives and in adherence with the hygiene and safety protocols.
Replying to a query on the impact on demand due to the Covid-19 crisis on the durable industry, Sharma said, “I am more optimistic now than I was a few weeks ago. There will definitely be an impact on the overall economy and consumption. However, in markets such as Japan and China, there has been a recovery in demand. In India too, very early signs are encouraging and wherever shops are opening, we are seeing consumers walk-in to buy products, which are necessities such as refrigerators and ACs.”
“I believe in the worse-case scenario, the industry will see a 20-25 percent impact on annual demand but we are hopeful recovery in demand will happen in some time,” he added.
Sharma believes smart appliances that help consumers multi-task and products loaded with hygiene features are expected to see traction among consumers in the coming days.
As offline retailers are saddled with inventories especially in terms of cooling products, consumer durables makers have taken measures to help them sell these actively. “We are working closely with our offline partners to help them during this crisis. We are leveraging on our CRM platforms, proactively reaching out to consumers and passing on bookings to our offline retailers. We are also focussing on ensuring timely after-sales service to our consumers in terms of installation and repair, in line with local government norms,” he added.
While the government has introduced some relaxations in lockdown 3.0 for India Inc, challenges at the local level remain. “Digitalisation of passes for seamless movement of people is much needed instead of use of manual processes. Also, once guidelines are issued by policymakers, it should be quickly communicated to local authorities to avoid any confusion a the local level,” he added.
―The Hindu Business Line