The year under review commenced with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic that grippedthe world leading to disruption and changing the way we live and work. In India justwhen we thought the worst was over the deadly second wave of the pandemic struckclaiming innumerable lives causing unimaginable agony and grief. On behalf of the USLBoard we offer our deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. While thevaccine rollout has provided optimism in controlling the surge of infections acceleratingthe pace of vaccination will be crucial especially as lockdowns are lifted across thecountry. The COVID-19 outbreak impacted economies across the world. Like many othercountries India too endured an erosion of growth in FY21. The Gross Domestic Product(GDP) contracted by 7.3% during the year as consumer spending private investments andexports plummeted sharply. Notwithstanding the Government's economic stimulus measures tosupport demand recovery the lockdown-like curbs in wake of the second wave of thepandemic have cast a dark shadow over India's ongoing economic revival.
Our Company's performance has been remarkably resilient thanks to the solidarity andcommitment of our people. While revenues and operating margins were significantly impactedin the first quarter of FY21 during which the alcoholic beverages sector faced a completeshutdown for six weeks we made a steady sequential recovery to deliver commendablefull-year results. Our focus on strengthening brands fostering close connections withbusiness partners and maintaining an agile response to the fluid situation enabled us tobounce back faster. During this health crisis our Company has stood up as a responsiblecorporate citizen. Early in 2020 when the country was staring at a huge shortage ofsanitisers we were amongst the first companies to publicly commit a donation of 300000litres of bulk hand sanitisers and 150000 masks to frontline workers across public healthdepartments police and the army. The restaurant industry the third-largest in theservices sector in India has been severely impacted by the pandemic. In 2020 we committed_ 75 crore to Raising the Bar' an initiative that will run over two years tosupport bars pubs and restaurants serving alcohol. This programme provides strongon-ground support to qualifying outlets with physical equipment and hygiene kits'and helps to establish partnerships with online reservations and cashless systems. Andvery recently Diageo pledged _ 45 crore to augment public healthcare infrastructure inOne District in each State and Union Territory of India by setting up Pressure SwingAdsorption (PSA) Oxygen Plants fully-equipped prefabricated 16-bed mini-hospital unitsand donating medical equipment. With mixed feelings we bid adieu to our Managing Director& CEO Anand Kripalu who has stepped down effective June 30 2021 after leading thisorganisation for seven years. Anand was responsible for spearheading USL's integrationwith Diageo India and transforming USL into a future-ready enterprise. He played anoutstanding role in aligning the culture and values of the organisation with that ofDiageo by being a role model for probity and ethical conduct and cascading it through theentire Company as a non-negotiable aspect of conducting business. His focus onstrengthening and accelerating core brands and driving productivity across every aspect ofthe business has created a solid runway for the future. Anand tirelessly championedresponsible drinking and shaped USL's trusted relationships through community endeavoursand partnerships. I extend the Board's sincere appreciation for his invaluablecontribution and wish him luck in his future endeavours.
We welcomed our next phase of leadership with Hina Nagarajan joining the Company onApril 1 2021 as CEO-Designate. Post Anand's departure she took over as Managing Directorand CEO of USL. Hina has delivered outstanding outcomes as the Managing Director ofDiageo's Africa Regional Markets (ARM). She is an accomplished senior leader with a proventrack record in business transformation and development in complex emerging markets acrossseveral consumer sectors (food & beverage health & hygiene nutrition beautyhome dcor) with more than 30 years of experience. The Board is confident that USL willcontinue to go from strength to strength under her able leadership.
Hina's joining is also a strong commitment to our inclusion and diversity agenda and Iam delighted to share that women now constitute 50% of the USL executive team. Despite theunprecedented economic disruption USL has emerged stronger and is well-positioned toharness the long-term growth opportunity in India. Rapid urbanisation favourabledemographics rising disposable income growing acceptance of drinking changing socialnorms and increasing inclination towards premium products will drive market growth.Backed by the global experience of our parent company and our local strengths we areconfident of unlocking these unfolding opportunities. I would like to thank you ourshareholders for your trust and support in these challenging times. USL will continue towork together with all stakeholders in pursuit of our goal to be one of the bestperforming and trusted consumer products companies in India.
Stay safe. Stay well. Yours sincerely
Mahendra Kumar Sharma