Lead Story

From good day to better

CEO Varun Berry has baked up growth at Britannia. Can he keep it crispy?

Soumik Kar

On a bright summer morning in March 2013, the top sales team at Britannia converged in one of the company’s conference rooms for a meeting. Bengaluru is not known to be oppressively hot, but the announcement on that particular day was sure to send the temperature soaring. Varun Berry, the company’s chief operating officer, was to chair the meeting, and after making some regular shop talk, he dropped a bomb on the assembled audience. “We are dropping all discounts and schemes to the trade,” he said, tersely. The salesmen gathered in the room looked at each other in complete disbelief. After all, as a company, Britannia’s strategy to build market share thus far was to pamper the trade with heavy discounts and this decision was, in every sense, a shocker. “It was a decision that kept me awake at night for a long time after that meeting,” laughs Berry today as he narrates the story. None of his colleagues at the meeting saw the funny side to it, though, and before long, the decibel levels had taken off. “Things will be very difficult for us in the market” was the uniform complaint. In fact, some believed that it would cost Britannia dearly and that the company was only putting itself in a losing position. Berry heard everyone out and merely said with a degree of finality, “I am sticking my neck out and this is my decision. If we lose, we lose.”