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BW Businessworld

‘The Future Is More Exciting’

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Over the past four years, Cadbury India has seen a dream run with a compounded annual growth rate of over 20 per cent. When US giant Kraft Foods bought Cadbury in February 2010, the new bosses came with an offer — we will help you grow faster. In an interview with BW's Prasad Sangameshwaran, Cadbury India chief Anand Kripalu talks about creating a delicious phase of growth.


How will Cadbury India make the  transition from a chocolate company to a food major?
We were already more than a chocolate company. About 40 per cent of our revenues are driven by beverages (Bournvita), candy and gum. As we look ahead, the real excitement is we can play in more arenas. The future can be more exciting than the past. We have the backing of a $50-billion company with global expertise in many categories. Those are possible areas of play in the future. So, we can evolve to a key player in foods.

How has the organisation evolved in India to deal with the global changes?
Organisational evolution is an ongoing process, if you want to grow rapidly. You cannot change the organisation as you are growing, or after you have grown. You have to put the capacity before growth comes, or the growth may never come. That's a future-ready organisation. In 2007, we did a project on creating organisation 2010. We tried to make jobs more exciting and, hence, we delayered the organisation and removed a senior layer — a level below the board of management. The next level started feeling they were doing much bigger jobs. We made the boxes that people occupy much bigger.

The second thing was to try to foresee bottle-necks to change the growth trajectory. We said we needed to scale resource behind innovation. We created dedicated resources to think and drive innovation in the business. Modern trade was emerging strongly. We had to create a discontinuity in the service that we were trying to deliver to modern trade. So, we updated skills in logistics and customer operations. All these were done well ahead of time. We are now thinking of organisation 2013.

Has the marketing team been split into two? Are there many more examples?
We had a change in the marketing leadership. The person was extremely stretched in terms of the portfolio. So we felt we do not have capacity to think growth. If the marketing people do not have space, running from one thing to another, you lose capacity to think growth, as these are consumer-driven companies. If we wanted to be ready for a bigger business, the first thing was to create growth capacity in marketing.

Does it reduce the excitement of a marketing head?
Sometimes you get excited by width, but when roles get really wide, you don't get into depth. One dimension you miss is how do I push what I had much harder than what I was able to do in the past. Today, we feel that in future we will get even higher growth from chocolate as a category than in the past, as there is a dedicated senior resource thinking about how to grow chocolates faster. To beat the past numbers is not going to be easy. With a good plan, we will get the resources.

Is India ready for the wide range of products from Kraft Foods?
India may be ready; the business has to be ready. The historical portfolio of Cadbury in India has delivered growth. Our first duty is to make sure that portfolio continues to grow even more strongly. The next is to explore possibilities of the global powerhouse. There is a legacy portfolio that has to be driven, and there are new things that we will do to build an exciting portfolio for ourselves; one step at a time.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 31-01-2011)