New Nestle chief’s first job: ‘Bring Maggi noodle back’

Nestle , the foods company that has had a 103-year presence in India, is undergoing its worst crisis ever and its new country head is focused on fighting it and emerging stronger. The company’s iconic Maggi noodles — which had a 70 percent market share in its Rs 3,800-crore segment, and which contributed about 30 percent to the company’s revenues — is off the shelves, after it was banned by several state food regulators amid reports it contained unusually high levels of lead and monosodium glutamate. A few days after taking over as the managing director of Nestle India, Suresh Narayan sat down with CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan, and explained that his “first mandate was to bring Maggi noodles back in the market” and that his company would work overtime to make sure it meets customers’ expectations on quality. But he steered cleared of getting into the minutiae of the Maggi noodles case — except to say that Nestle was utmost focused on quality and that it would focus on boost it further in the future. He did comment on the financial impact of the crisis — in the first quarter, the company’s sales declined 20 percent to Rs 1,933 crore and it posted a net loss (of Rs 64 crore) for the first time in 15 years — and said that most of the one-time impact, such as that incurred for destroying 27,000 tonnes of noodles, were booked during the quarter. Using the never-let-a-crisis-go-waste philosophy, Narayan also said that Nestle would look to revamp its product strategy: it is likely to look at changing the product mix for Maggi noodles once it is brought back as well as intensify its push into other segments such as nutrition and drinks.
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