Britannia optimistic about Lanka
Sitting pretty in a large pristine, no clutter office set amidst a
light background in Biyagama tucked with Britannia products, Country
Manager, A. B. S. Subrahmanyam says Sri Lanka has a large biscuit market
with a sophisticated consumer base.
Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, Subrahmanyam better known Subbu and
tagged as a very organised person says that Sri Lanka has one of the
highest per capita biscuit consumption in Asia which is 4 kgs as against
1.1 kg in India and 1.8 kg in Malaysia. "This is why we decided to
invest in Sri Lanka.
to Daily News Business Expat Chit Chat, on their operations in the
Island and the local biscuit industry, Subbu says they are optimistic
about Sri Lanka and see the present economic situation as a short-term
phenomenon. "In fact, inflation has already shown a downward trend in
the past couple of months."
Britannia is here for the long haul and has taken a long-term view of
investing in the Sri Lankan market.
Q: This is a time when spending power
is at an all time low and people are cutting down on "non essential"
items. How confident are you that Britannia will be successful?
That is precisely the reason why we are upbeat about our positioning
and the opportunity offered by Sri Lanka. At a time when the general
perception of biscuits as mere 'indulgence' and 'fun' snacks may make
them 'non-essential', Britannia sees a clear opportunity to present a
unique, essential range that offers 'great taste and great nourishment'.
The product portfolio launched on this platform has been extensively
researched over the past couple of years and we are confident that the
biscuit range we have handpicked for this market will not only offer
great nourishment but also delight the Sri Lankan consumer's palate.
... Premier International brand
Britannia, ranked as the No. 1. Food Brand in the Nielson
(India) survey published in The Economic Times, officially
launched in Sri Lanka recently. Already gathering a considerable
fan base, Britannia Biscuits are most definitely one of the
fastest growing successful products in the local FMCG market....
Q: What competitive advantages do
your products have when compared to other products in the Sri Lankan
Our most tangible competitive advantage is that, as I mentioned
earlier, we offer our products on the unique platform of 'great taste
and great nourishment' a combination every mother would love to offer to
her child. Furthermore, Britannia is a 90 year old brand with a rich
history in offering value to the consumers in the food space, especially
For several decades, Britannia has aimed and succeeded at
'delighting' the consumer by delivering far more than expected, such as
the organisational practices, perspectives and managerial and marketing
choices we make everyday, which has also been built in to the Britannia
system across all functions - be it in R&D, manufacturing, marketing,
HR, supply chain or any other function.
These are the results of Britannia's rich heritage which give us a
sustainable competitive advantage in endearing ourselves to the
Q: How has Britannia been received in
Sri Lanka so far?
We started manufacturing in Kandy from mid August 2008 and have
sought to offer the consumer something extra either by way of
organoleptic, sensory, nutritional or pack product form in every product
category. We are very happy with the way the marketplace and consumers
have responded to our offerings. The trade demand has been quite
positive and frankly, our challenge so far has been to ensure that we
are able to supply in adequate volumes to meet the market demand!
Q: What is your opinion on other
local biscuit manufacturers? Will its key players prove to be formidable
competition for Britannia?
Biscuit space in Sri Lanka is an evolved category, with a
sophisticated consumer base and a high per capita consumption (when
compared to other key Asian markets). Now that has not happened
overnight and has definitely not happened by accident! The present Sri
Lankan brands and their marketers must have worked hard on evolving this
category over the past few decades and have succeeded in bringing it to
the current stage! Biscuits are a very competitive category all over the
world. I see no reason how it can be any different in Sri Lanka.
Q: The local biscuit industry is
indeed highly competitive. Did you face any difficulties when it came to
entering the market due to the competitive stance of local players?
I think the local industry has welcomed the competition. After all,
competition benefits the consumer in any arena and consumer benefit is
something we are seeking to provide. We have certainly not faced any
difficulties at all in operating our business successfully.
Q: Apart from the monetary investment
Britannia has made in Sri Lanka will the company be doing much in terms
of providing jobs to Sri Lankans? Are most of your staff Indian or have
you hired local staff? What about at Management levels?
Employees of Britannia, globally, comprise some 10 different
nationalities which ranges from Indians, Bangladeshis, Emarati, Omani,
Nepali, Saudi and Sudanese.
Britannia Lanka Pvt Ltd. is a Sri Lankan company; it operates within
the regulations as laid down for any such local company by Sri Lankan
authorities. As such, the success of this company will invariably be
tied up with Sri Lankan talent and resources at all levels. At present,
Sri Lankan colleagues man the key managerial positions of marketing and
Our distributor, J.L. Morrison has put in place an exclusive sales
set up for Britannia manned completely with local talent. Same is true
for our manufacturer, Luckyland.
Q: Are the raw materials for the
biscuits imported or procured locally?
At present, nearly 80% (by value) of the inputs that go in to
manufacturing Britannia biscuits in SL are procured locally or through
local associates. Our intent is to push this as close to 100% as quickly
Q: How large is your factory
Luckyland has their own workforce. However, this workforce has almost
tripled in order to meet Britannia's needs. We also have Britannia
personnel stationed in Sri Lanka whose exclusive duty is to ensure
adherence to laid down quality
Q: In the global scare in terms of
tainted milk products can you reassure the public about the safety of
your own products?
The food industry is especially susceptible to various threats of
this nature. That is why it is essential that rigorous quality processes
are adhered to at all stages right from sourcing of input materials,
processing, handling, transportation, storage. This is where a business
and brand heritage, such as Britannia's, becomes very crucial to not
only ensure that the requisite, rigorous quality practices are
implemented every time without fail, but to sustain the confidence of
Q: On a personal note, how do you see
working and staying in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka is the fifth country I have resided in, having previously
lived in Russia, Malaysia and the UAE. Everywhere, people are different,
the societal context is different and what one imbibes from the place is
different. However, Colombo weather and environs is similar to that of
my hometown - Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
Sri Lanka has wonderfully warm people who enrich the beauty of this
country and I intend to make the most of my stay here by travelling to
as many places of Sri Lanka as I possibly can!