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Sharad Malhotra

President

Automotive Refinishes and Wood Coatings

Nippon Paint India

1 Rating

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY We are optimising, innovating and adapting

Jul 27, 2020

…cites Sharad Malhotra, President, Automotive Refinishes and Wood Coatings, Nippon Paint India, in his discussion with Anvita Pillai. With perfected breakthrough paint technology and emphasis on innovation & eco-friendliness, Nippon Paint produces high-quality paints and coats for automotive, industrial and decorative sectors. In this tête-à-tête with Pillai, Malhotra details on the learnings during COVID-19 period, changes that have come in & how Nippon is acclimating to it, opportunities during crisis and more. Excerpts…

What have been some important learnings for you as a leader during this COVID-19 period?

The COVID-19 period has acted as a wake-up call for everyone and has been a complete destruction of traditional learnings for the industry. Personally, for us, it has changed the perspective in which we looked at digitalisation, the costs of it, the way our operations need to be and supply chains for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. We have realised that we need to be much more innovative and change the way we look at our investments, consumers and human assets. These are times where we are looking at everything fresh, from business to markets to operations perspective.

What changes have you brought into plant operations owing to all the guidelines issued by the government? How much of a crucial role does technology play in these changes?

At Nippon India plants, we have set up satellite manufacturing units called Strategic Manufacturing Partner (SMP), which help us make our manufacturing more agile, flexible and lean. We are now looking at how we can combine traditional manufacturing practices with latest technologies in the market and are working towards implementing increased automation. Safety has always been a priority in our plants, but now, we look at safety, social distancing and manage operations in our plants with a view of being more vigilant and mindful.

Have there been any opportunities that Nippon India has created for itself through this period of crisis?

In this period, we are optimising, innovating and adapting. We are optimising in terms of cost, working capital, skills and operations; adapting in terms of what customers want keeping in mind the future scenarios, where they would demand for customised services and innovating in terms of product development. We are now looking at developing products which were not a part of our roadmap earlier, e.g. we are developing sanitisation products for railways, buses, trucks, etc. Also, we are focusing on catering to the growing online customers who are creating latent demands, and we want to be the first automotive paint company that caters to these demands.

In February 2020, Nippon Paint India partnered with Snapdeal for car care products. How will this new partnership help you strengthen your position in the Indian market?

We are looking at all the major online players with an aim to develop sustainable, long-term partnership with them. Snapdeal is one such partner and with business picking up we will add more and more products to our already existing portfolio on Snapdeal. Moving forward, one will see a lot more of Nippon online, not just on Snapdeal but on other platforms too.

In the times to come, what is the plan of action for Nippon India to ensure maximum market share?

We have three business units in India and have been exploring & growing in all our business areas quite well. In the times to come, we will continue to focus on growth, invest in market and develop more products for our customers. Right now, we are looking at India with large long-term initiatives.

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