Brilliant Polymers – How to emerge stronger from COVID-19

From surviving to thriving

Brilliant Polymers
One of eight Brilliant finished goods warehouses across India . Photo - Brilliant Polymers

Mumbai, India, 24 September 2020 – Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Brilliant Polymers expects to grow at over 15% in the current financial year (April 2020 to March 2021). In this update we are sharing our views and experience with regard to the pandemic and its impact on our industry – the  supply of laminating adhesives to the flexible packaging industry.

Businesses today are faced with unprecedented challenges as they continue to navigate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic is changing the way we live, work and use technology. As the world adjusts to its new normal, business leaders need to rethink strategies to drive resilience and emerge from this crisis stronger. We need to turn this massive challenge into meaningful change so we can survive and thrive. At Brilliant Polymers we have adapted to the on-going crisis by focusing on key areas.

Safety first – our team and our community

Employee and customer safety is a priority. We immediately implemented a work-from-home policy for all non-essential team members. In the first week of April, the government listed packaging and its ancillary raw materials as ‘essential service’ sectors, and we were able to restart our operations to meet the demands of the flexible packaging industry. Our laminating adhesives form an integral part of flexible packaging which in turn is essential for the packaging of food, consumer goods and pharmaceuticals.

Brilliant Safety Training
Brilliant Polymers conducts safety trainings regularly

Only key members of our operations team and front-line plant workers have been permitted to be physically present at our site and measures have been implemented to safeguard their health and safety. Regular Toolbox Training sessions are held in accordance with the latest Ministry of Health guidelines and personal protective equipment such as masks and sanitizers are available to all staff. Clear and unambiguous rules to ensure health and safety have been put in place and are supplemented with daily eReminders. Further, in addition to best in class health benefits, special Covid-19 health insurance has been put in place for all employees.

Brilliant Grain Donation Local NGO
CSR Drive – Food grain donation drive

In addition to our employees, we believe that we have a responsibility to the community in which we operate. In the days after the pandemic struck, members of our team ventured into the local community and made donations of food staples and hygiene products to the most vulnerable. Our CSR team continues to evaluate and pursue initiatives to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of those most affected in our community.

Embracing a digital future

The future of work, defined by the use of more automation and technology, was always coming, Covid-19 has hastened the pace. Brilliant’s employees across all functions have learned how to complete tasks remotely using digital communication and collaboration tools. Communication has been ramped up significantly with daily updates and interactions and amongst team members.

Customer service and technical support has also shifted to a digital platform to ensure uninterrupted and clear communication with our customers and to facilitate an understanding of their shifting needs. In the initial stages of the lockdown, product trials were run through virtual support. Now, as we move into the unlock phase, in some states we are able to offer local support as well, backed up with virtual support from team leaders. Frequent and clear communication ensures that our Promise of Technology, Quality and Service with every supply is upheld.

Building operational resilience

Our business model encompasses geographical diversification with countrywide and international depots and stock points to mitigate regional risks. This enables us to maintain steady and timely supplies of our adhesives to customers throughout the lockdown despite localised restrictions.

Brilliant Polymers is reassessing supply chains to protect against a wider and more acute range of potential shocks. We have acted quickly to rebalance our global supply chain as new technologies and consumer-demand patterns encourage regionalization of supply. We expect this trend to accelerate.

Agile operating model

At Brilliant we pride ourselves on our ability to move quickly to respond to customer needs. The pandemic has strengthened our commitment to maintaining an efficient feedback loop whereby new information is used to drive strategic decision-making and quick response times. We believe that future business success will depend on the ability to adapt to the unexpected or improbable.

In the days after the pandemic struck, we focused on our product range to ensure that all products were in stock, all the time, in order to meet customer demand. In the first few months, there was an unprecedented demand for laminating adhesives due to high demand from the flexible packaging sector; most food, consumer goods and other FMCG item supply chains had been de-stocked, plus with the population at home, there was large scale demand. We increased our manufacturing capacity to meet this demand and saw record levels of production and sales in July 2020. Thereafter the trend has somewhat stabilized, though we see similar cycles playing out in many of our exports markets, leading to a continuous flow of orders.

It is clear that the pandemic is transforming our social and economic lives, paving the way for a new normal. It has demonstrated the importance of digital collaboration in a period of global self- isolation. While the priority remains to ensure everyone is safe, a crisis of this scale reveals not just vulnerabilities, but also opportunities to learn and adapt. It has forced us to reimagine our business models, not just for short-term survival, but for long-term resilience. Our teams are fast adapting to the new normal and ensuring that we support the increased demand with our Promise of Technology, Quality and Service with each supply. We believe that this ability to pivot and adapt to the new normal will enable us to continue to be the market leader in our industry.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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