Maliban Milk has shown a 100% increase in sales over the last 12 months, according to Maliban's Chief Operating Officer, D.L. Wijesuriya.
He told The Sunday Times FT the company, which recently saw stock-outs for six months following an employee strike, had only just started to bounce back, indicating that biscuit sales in supermarkets and larger stores led the category but this did not translate into a national leadership position because of shortfalls in the scope of Maliban Biscuits' distribution network.
An indication of this being a pre-strike, Maliban Biscuits was available in 70,000 small outlets (kades, etc.); today that number has fallen to 40,000 such outlets. Commenting on distribution, Maliban’s Chief Executive Officer - Sales and Marketing, Ravi Jayawardena, said that plans were underway to grow its network, with a recent pool of 70 potential distributors interviews resulting in 17 new distributors with expectations that a further 30 distributors would be appointed soon.
Mr. Jayawardena identified advertising as a key area of cost cutting, saying that Maliban now relied almost exclusively on existing brand recognition for consumer sales. This has achieved an estimated savings of Rs. 20 out of each and every Rs. 200 spent. Also, he noted that the company had cut additional discounts to traders so that savings were passed on directly to customers. He also suggested that a number of product innovations by Maliban had resulted in a further positive response from customers since they offered better value for money, these include Maliban’s "Sorties" product, which is a 400g pack at Rs.100 as well as smaller cream crackers packages, where 50g is sold at Rs. 20 (equivalent to 6 biscuits) and 25g are sold at Rs. 10 (equal to 3 biscuits), all introduced to appeal to customers' wallets.
Commenting on the once, highly-publicised Melamine issue, Assistant General Manager – Quality Assurance / Research and Development, Warna Fernando, indicated that at no time was Melamine ever detected, either within the company's own stringent in-house testing facilities or by external tests carried out in laboratories in Singapore (Health Safety Authority) and U.K. (Campden BRI), even at the parts per million (PPM) level, a fact underscored by a lack of reported cases throughout Maliban’s international sales network, which encompasses exports to 23 countries including Switzerland, Canada, the European Union, Australia and the United Arab Emirates. (JH)