Most probably, he may be relocating to the Asia-Pac headquarters, Singapore. Cadbury has appointed a headhunter to identify a suitable candidate for the top job. The process of finding a succesor is on and sources said the corner office is unlikely to go to in-house executives.
When contacted, the Cadbury spokesperson said: “Cadbury policy is not to comment on speculation about management moves.
Cadbury Schweppes globally is a large company, with many senior roles. Our ongoing strategy is to keep the market informed about talented senior managers that are available in the markets where we operate, including India.”
Sources said the succession was long overdue. But the worm-in-chocolate controversy in 2003 led to delays. Puri became Cadbury managing director on January 1, 2002, after a four-year stint as director, sales and marketing. Mr Puri had joined Cadbury from Asian Paints.
Until the worm infestation controversy, Cadbury was the exception in an FMCG sector plagued by slow, single digit topline and bottomline growth. But its net profit in 2003 dipped 37% to Rs 45.6 crore (Rs 456 million) as compared to a 21% increase the previous year. Now, two years later, Cadbury says that consumers have long forgotten the controversy and are back to their merry chocolate-chomping ways.
It helped that the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration also gave a clean chit to the company's two plants in the state. Cadbury went into overdrive to tell consumers that improper storage of what is essentially a perishable commodity might have led to the worm infestation.
Cadbury improved the packaging and paid more attention to the way its chocolates were stored by nearly 650,000 retailers across the country. In the aftermath of the controversy, the company launched Project Vishwas, a retail education programme under which 190,000 retailers in key states were covered. The programme entailed generating awareness and providing assistance in improving storage quality.
But the negative publicity put paid to Cadbury India's plans of becoming a major sourcing hub for parent Cadbury Schweppes. As part of a global realignment of its supply chain management, finishing touches were being given to a plan that would have seen Cadbury India emerge as a major supplier of chocolates to the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.
Being the market leader in chocolates with a 70% share, the company has attempted to stretch the boundaries within chocolate confectionery. It has also been adventurous in unleashing a brand new category within chocolates early this year by launching Cadbury Bytes andintroducing the concept of sweet snacking.
In spite of the new categories being explored by Cadbury, its star brand remains Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM) which continues to corner almost 30% of the chocolate market. It's followed by brands such as 5-Star, Perk and Gems. Each of these has been revamped over the years to generate excitement for the category.