From cash flow to labour care, cos go extra mile to tide over second wave

NEW DELHI: When the first wave of coronavirus infections hit the country last year, there was a large cluster at JSW’s plant in Karnataka. Wiser from the experience, it is not taking any chances this time.
“We have arranged accommodation for workers involved in construction at our sites in Maharashtra and others in our colonies, ensuring that they have provisions and supplies and they do not have to go out,” said JSW Steel joint MD and group CFO Sheshagiri Rao.
In Ludhiana, hand tool exporter S C Ralhan has seen around a quarter of his 400-odd workers leave for their homes in UP and Bihar.
“This is wedding season and the number is similar every year. So far, exports have not been affected. But if the lockdown spreads to other parts of the country, then there may be some impact,” he said.
While the labour situation hasn’t deteriorated drastically, there is fear over a fall in demand and cash flow issues.
In Mumbai, K Nandakumar, CMD of Chemtrols Industries, an equipment manufacturer, is worried over the impact on small businesses, although he is happy with the assurance from the state government that business will not be affected.
“Micro and small businesses will face some cash flow issues and it will help if banks can provide them flexibility and may be 10% higher limits for time being,” he said.
With restrictions such as night curfews in several states that have impacted the food and beverages industry, Metro Cash & Carry has reduced its dependency on the Ho-ReCa (hotels, restaurants & cafes) segment. “HoReCa sales are down from 18% to 12%. We have increased our focus on kiranas,” Arvind Mediratta, MD & CEO at Metro Cash & Carry India, told TOI.
“While our brick-and-mortar channel has taken the biggest hit, we were ready this time to offset the impact with a hybrid direct sales model. From remotely monitoring water quality levels to instructing consumers on service aspects through an app, we have adapted to the rapidly changing environment. As the entry of domestic help may be restricted in several societies, we are also trying to push our robotic vacuum cleaners,” said Marzin Shroff, MD & CEO at Eureka Forbes.
For Urban Company, dependent on service professionals like electricians, plumbers and barbers, stepping up safety protocols was the immediate reaction. “We have launched a vaccination drive for them,” said co-founder Varun Khaitan.
“We need to watch the number of active cases carefully,” said Pushkaraj Shenai, CEO at Lakme Lever. “And once this drops, we can expect the recovery to begin.”

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