For the success of this research, I would like to thank everyone who has helped me in completing my work. I want to express heartiest thanks to my mentor as without whose guidance; it would not have been possible to achieve this research work. It was through my mentor's advice that I was able to proceed in this study. I also want to thank the respondents who helped me by taking part in the interview. They took time out of their busy schedules during this pandemic for answering the structured interview questions, which were essential to get the result of the study.
The Tea sector of India is known around the globe for its quality and taste, making it one of the major export commodities. However, the pandemic spread every industry and tea industry has also been one of them. Hence, the primary purpose of this study has been to determine the different areas and types of implications laid down by COVID-19 on the performance of the Indian Tea sector, and its future potentials. Qualitative research through the use of primary interviews of respondents belonging from listed and unlisted tea companies, has been used for the collection of the data. This section has proamplevided a narrative of the steps and philosophical underpinnings used by the researcher for this research. It has been found that macro-economic factors such as COVID, has been majorly influencing the decisions of the tea companies, even though some external factors have been impactful as well. However, these impacts have rather been fluctuating on the overall tea industry of India, wherein the earlier periods have reflected some downturn dur to supply and logistics shocks, which however has shown positive growths in the later periods. The study shows that this demand is driven by the growth in immunity and conscious consumption necessities. The strategies which had been adopted and also the future indications across the involved organisations during these periods have been reflected across the study along with recommendations that help strengthening the position.
With a vast network of tea manufacturers, traders, dealers, auctioneers, exporters and packers, the tea industry is one of the oldest organised industries in India (Gupta, 2018). Next to China, India holds the second position in the production of tea which plays a vital role in India's national economy (Pou, 2016). According to Pravin Jain (2020), due to the impact of COVID-19 Indian agriculture including tea industry is being hit from multiple fronts; both domestic and export demand slump, as well as harmful disruptions to the global and domestic supply chain involving both forward and backward linkages. In this section of the research, the impacts faced by the Indian tea sectors during COVID-19 will be explored using previous literature. Also, this chapter provides a brief overview of the critical variables, along with the relations underlying thereof.
Tea is one of the world's most crucial non-alcoholic beverage drinks and has gained more prominence as a significant 'health drink' given its purported medicinal value. It is the only industry in which India has maintained its leadership for over the last 150 years (Pou, 2016). India is the world's largest black tea consumer cum manufacturer and has been at the forefront of the global tea industry since the 19th century. This could not have happened without the industries playing a pioneering role in the development, maintenance and growth of the tea industry in India (Roy, 2013). More than 2 million Indian's are working in the tea industry (Gupta, 2018). India manufactures all three types tea which includes CTC (Crush, tear and curl) tea, orthodox tea and green tea, where CTC tea accounted for 88% of total production in CY 2010, while conventional tea accounted for 10%. Green tea accounted for just 2 % of the total output (Gupta, 2018).
According to Tularam (2016), India is the second-largest tea producer with 25% production share and an export market share about 12%. India also produces most of its tea domestically, in addition to exporting. Over the years, internal consumption has increased with local production struggling to meet domestic demand (Tularam, 2016). In India, Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, and Karnataka are the central tea-producing states. Of these, Assam is the most significant contributor (Sugata Marjit, 2018). Some tea varieties (such as Darjeeling tea) are grown in India alone and are in great demand worldwide. The government's position is, therefore, crucial to the growth of the country's tea industry (Jeyaselvam, 2012). India enjoys a reputation of being one of the largest consumers of tea globally where country's 75% of the total produce is locally consumed (Indian Tea: Industry, Market & Export Data from The Tea Board of India I IBEF, 2020). However, Indian tea is also quite a popular export item in international locations. As per the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) website, India enjoys the fourth position in the export of tea after Kenya, China and Sri Lanka with total tea export of USD 830.90 million in 2019 and 709.28 million USD under the outburst of pandemic COVID-19. The report also highlights that India is the world's second-largest tea producer as per records of 2019 including the production of numerous variants like CTC, Orthodox tea, green tea and organic tea the privilege of which is unique and rare for the country in comparison to many other producers. The Tea offerings of India are also inclusive of high-quality speciality teas, some of which include Darjeeling, Assam, orthodox and the high range Nilgiris having a distinctive aroma, colour flavour and strongness to it (Indian Tea: Industry, Market & Export Data From The Tea Board Of India I IBEF, 2020).
As per Jeyof aselvam (2012), in the Indian economy, the tea industry holds a critical position. The Indian households, even the most deficient buy tea for their everyday consumption. Tea is the primary drink in the country (nearly 85 per cent of the country's total households buy tea), making India the world's largest tea user. Moreover, it is the second largest industry in terms of employment by directly employing more than a million people and indirectly employing two million people, of which 50 per cent are women. The tea industry mainly drives the economies of the regions where tea gardens, for example, Assam, are concentrated (Jeyaselvam, 2012). Thus, the impact of COVID-19 on Tea industry affects the Indian Economy.
The surge of COVID-19 has shocked the Indian economy to its core by bringing forth an unparalleled series of disaster that has led to adverse consequences affecting the entire economy, taking the jobs and dropping the economy further down into uncertainty. As the Indian economy is pressurised with imbalance trying to find its recovery from COVID crisis, statistics also add to the pessimism prevalent in the current scenario (Dev and Sengupta, 2020; Secinaro et al. 2020). A report by Hindustan Times, present that the World Bank forecast of the economic downturn in the coming years provides an idea that the national income of the country has no hope of showing positive turns in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 in comparison to what it was in the fiscal year 2019-2020. As per the published global economic prospects report, India's gross domestic product (GDP) has been forecasted to contract by 3.2 % in the next year while growth forecasts have also been maintained at moderation with recovery level through 3.1 % growth (Hindustan Times, 2020). However, the report provides a positive indication of safeguard in the agriculture sector and government which had 30% in total gross value added in 2019-20 in comparison to the rest of the economy.
The projections of economic contraction in the context of India have also been evident in the indication of Moody's investors' service, which estimated 0% growth in the financial year 2021 (Noronha, 2020). It states the inability of the fiscal measures to boost the lower consumption levels and sluggish business operations occurred due to the extended lockdown, which is likely to overburden the already fragile household consumption, thus affecting the overall performance and economic revenue of the Indian economy. The agency's forecast of the gloomy outlook for the fiscal year is like the global agencies' figures stating a 7% contraction whilst the other agencies demonstrated a lower doubt with 5% contraction (Noronha, 2020). The reports along with the drawing support of the effects of policy predict reforms to be likely 1 to 2% of GDP in terms of direct physical impact and little push providing to the economic growth (Noronha, 2020). At the inception of the COVID-19 outbreak, the forecast had been stated with a significant reduction in the industrial production from the period of continued lockdown which resulted in a decrease in Dun & Bradstreet index of industrial production at 4 to 4.5 % during February along with the inflation forecast ranging between 6.5 to 6.7 % and Wholesale Price index (WPI) inflation ranging from 2.35 to 2.5 % in March 2020 (Economic Times, 2020). Engulfing the income of 80% working Indians and 20% preparing themselves to comply with the near hardships, the residents are at no better position compared to suppliers who are also suffering from a significant reduction in the demand for commodities, affecting the financial performance of all industrial sectors as an outcome of a severe demand shock. Also, as the consumer confidence index reduces to 63.7, the lockdown restrictions have left its significant imprint on the manufacturing and service sectors of the Indian economy with contraction to 27.4 in the manufacturing industry whilst in the service sector, it has been reported at 5.4 showing collapse in April (Roy Chowdhury, 2020). In this context, it is evident that the loss of jobs along with the government interventions and strict regulations on social distancing are capable of promoting adverse implication on the revenue generation as well, the business organisations are incapable of meeting the demand due to lockdowns.
The outbreak of pandemic COVID-19 has brought forth significant changes and operational challenges in respect of the agricultural industry. It has been highlighted by Zarei and Rad (2020) that the farm sector has not been safe from the disastrous impact laid down by the pandemic leading to the suffering of severe damages. The author highlights decreasing patterns in production, logistic problems to be significant causative of issue. The primary operational problems faced by the agricultural sector can be highlighted with evidence from research by Pulubuhu et al. (2020) to state that agricultural commodities sales, have continued to decline due to the restrictions of home quarantine making the farmers unable to do their activities and having to do away with lower income. The author highlights due to the lack of fieldwork, the development of farming has been affected. The impacts of such events can be estimated stated by Pu and Zhong (2020) that it has led to blockage of outflow channels of the agricultural products hindering necessary production inputs destruction of the production cycles and reduction of the production capacity. The negative implications are also evident in case of the Indian agriculture to draw forth the opinion of Khandagale et al. (2020) that the stagnation of production has led to crippling of the backbone agricultural income of India leading to descending contribution to the GDP due to commute restrictions.
The monstrous imprint of the COVID-19 crisis in the contemporary scenario has laid profound implications on the agriculture industry including tea sector of India as well as disrupted the financial performance of the industry due to the different precautionary measures and restrictions imposed on the conveyance as well as transportation facilities along with the shortage of Labour during peak seasons (Parveen Jain, 2020). Following the adverse implication set by COVID-19, newspaper reports suggest by reinstating Information and Credit Rating Agency (ICRA) projections that an estimated 6 to 7% of annual tea production of the first flush variety of North India and another 5 to 6% from South Indian origins are likely to be affected by the pandemic in the current year 2020. The report enlightens the audience by stating that an estimated production of around 90 to 95 million kgs is likely to decline due to COVID implications (Ghosal, 2020). Expanding on the leading causes of the impact, another report blames the restriction on labour deploying to be a high cost for effect on the Tea industry. The report states that flood and unfavourable weather in Assam has also added to the difficulty of the industry-leading to crop losses of 15 to 25% in June saying the likely increase in the cost of production by INR 25-30 per kgs not considering wage rise (Bureau, 2020).
According to Jeyaselvam (2012), tea is an essential export item for India which contributes significantly to the foreign exchange earnings of the country. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the profitability of companies which manufacture, and export tea are impacted, which also affects the Indian economy.
The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 crisis has left its adverse implication on every industrial sector in varying proportions. Researchers validate the same by putting forth the impacts on the profitability and revenue generation across a plethora of businesses across the globe. For example, highlighting the profit implications of for-profit hospitals, Kruse and Jeurissen (2020); Anoushiravani et al. (2020); Ferneini (2020) and Laing (2020) have provided that the implications on financial grounds are an evident outcome, in both the short term and long-term perspectives primarily due to the added cost of training and equipment that have stressed the revenue. Drawing forth the reasons behind these implications Ozili and Arun, (2020) has highlighted in this regards, to be inclusive of increasing the number of lockdown days, monetary policy decisions as well as the international travel restrictions which affected the business enterprises and economic activities. However, the agricultural economy has represented a key exception with an increase in the number of business owners since February 2020 with unchanged wholesale and retail trades as per Fairlie (2020). Nicola et al. (2020) and Deaton (2020) have also opined on a similar note highlighting the increase in procurement of food products due to panic buying and stockpiling. However, contradictory observations are also evident with the researchers that underline that not all has been good for the agriculture for Agri-based industries. For example, Goeb et al. (2020) has drawn forth the observations Myanmar agricultural sectors for churning out the implications of reduced sales on revenue and profit put forth by the COVID-19 crisis due to disrupted supply and demand, high transportation costs and lower revenue expectations. Nevertheless, contradicting opinions is prevalent in the views of El Kadhi et al. (2020), who have opined that in respect of Tunisian economy the agri-food sector inclusive of agriculture food processing in affiliated services has instead lead to a GDP decline of 2.5, 5.0 and 7.5%, in the simulated evaluations of one, two and three months duration of the COVID-19 Crisis, who has also been supported by Hossain (2020) in terms of the fact that the lengthening of the crisis tenure is likely to stress the access to staple food and nutrition due to distorted food production.
Kumar (2020), highlights the spillover implication of shrinking profitability on the economic security of the migrant or workers comprising around 89% of Indian workers, part of which also belongs to the agricultural sector. Kumar (2020) has also provided statistics of the Indian economy in the post-pandemic condition to highlight the status of the farming industry. Drawing forth the implications of COVID-19 the agricultural sector and rural activities, Dev and Sengupta (2020) have drawn comparative figures from pre-COVID and post-crisis period to state that GDP growth in agriculture has increased from 2.4 % in FY19 to 4% in FY20 showing a better position which however has moved against what has been reflected during the 2016 to 19 period during bumper crop as well as horticultural production causing the decline in food crisis. The author also highlights that the terms of trade for agriculture have improved which is reflected by the 11.4% nominal GDP growth rate compared to real growth of 4%.
In contrast, Ivanov (2020) has drawn forth in this regard in cases of very long facility and demand disruption durations affecting the supply chains making it is essential to consider the starting point of epidemic outbreaks as well as the quantity of business located in the region paving the way for rippling effect. Also, Baker et al. (2020) has provided another vital observation to add up to the decreasing economic revenue and profit of the business going through the reduction in the typical spending by households on account of social distancing restrictions in restaurants and retail which provides a rippling impact on the agricultural sector.
The disruptions caused by the pandemic have not cut short on impacting the operations of business across the globe. Literature works existent in this respect, also validate the fact that COVID has undeniably infected business operations. For example, drawing for the agricultural sector as the basis of opinion, Zhang et al. (2020) have highlighted that the incidence rate of the pandemic has left a negative implication on agricultural productivity. The author states that although the incident has spiralled the input factors such as land fertilisers and machinery, positive input offset productivity has failed to radiate to the nearby surroundings causing significant impacts for the Chinese agricultural sector reducing its growth by a projected 0.4% to 2% in 2020 under different circumstances. The prospects of operational challenges and losses have also been highlighted in the research of Baldwin and Tomiura (2020). Baker et al. (2020), also has validated his opinion by drawing discussion by stating that operational risks are also looming large at the verge of socio-economic destructions, affecting the productivity of the employees, which without proper intervention is impossible to combat. Highlighting on the revenue impacts of the agricultural sector, Hart et al. (2020) draws forth reference of Iowa's most extensive agricultural products to estimate and overall damage of 788 million dollar for corn, 213 million dollar for soybean, 2.5 billion dollar for ethanol and 347 million due to falling of the price of ethanol while 658 million dollar for cattle feeds, $34 million for calves in feeder cattle and 2.1 billion dollar for hogs have already been lost due to the pandemic. Seetharaman (2020) and Sarkis et al. (2020) in this regard draws forth the stagnancy and reluctance in production due to congregational social restrictions leading to labour-intensive firms needing to do away with minimised operations and temporary shutdown. Pu and Zhong (2020), as well as, de Paulo Farias and de Araújo (2020) further extends the discussion by stating that reasonable restrictions are likely to block the outflow of agricultural produce leading to hindrances in the production inputs, disrupt the production cycles and leads undermined production capacity, staring customers pocket, thus leading government intervention at an audio level, to provide a precautionary safeguard. One of the primary reasons for which, the organisations have failed to perform, can be traced due to the lack of logistics and transportation facilities as has been highlighted by the collapse of railways due to altered mobility facilities of passengers (Tardivo et al., 2020) and supply chain disruptions (Ivanov, 2020), is equally at the verge of both medium and long-term implications. Highlights of the labour layoff and loss of jobs amongst employees are also evident in the case of agricultural sector prepositions (Cortignani et al., 2020; Fana et al., 2020). The researcher highlights that the prime reason behind this may be attributable to the economic restrictions imposed by the national governments. However, optimism can also be evidenced due to the instigated demand conditions, in the research of Seleiman et al. (2020). They have put forth the pandemic as an opportunity towards the agricultural sector for generating higher incomes as exports witnessed stimulation, along with the machinery inputs and fertilisers market which has served to provide moderation effect on the job losses across the Brazilian economy.
There has been certain pleas and suggestions, to the Indian government during this period to safeguard the performance and operations of the tea sector. Pravin Jain (2020) penned down, in his letter to the Assam Chief Secretary of the Indian Tea Association, Kumar Sanjay Krishna, stating that spraying pesticide, weedicide and irrigation is necessary to be permitted during the lockdown phase to ensure the safety of the tea plants. However, the order came with the riders, that only workers who are willing to carry out these activities should be engaged and that no worker should be coerced, workers so engaged should be medically tested before starting work, adequate protective equipment should be given while spraying pesticides and weedicide, social distance and hand washing should be ensured and the management should spray disinfectant in the labour lines (Parveen Jain, 2020). All these legal implications might have impacted the business operations in the Tea sector.
Serving as an applied branch of general management, the role of financial management is quintessential for the positional domain as well as the success of the business. There must exist a subsystem of conglomerate enterprises, to evaluate and pivot focus, on this respect which is closely intertwined with production, marketing, and personnel operations. Al Breiki and Nobanee (2019) highlights that financial management is necessary to evaluate the sustainability of the business, to which Bogićević et al. (2016) have been found to provide validations that financial performance analysis contributes to the motivation and increased positive perceptions amongst employees. Moreover, finance constitutes the lifeblood of the organisation in funding its regular expenses as well as opening prospects of revenue generation through combatting volatility as highlighted by Silva et al. (2017). Being an integral part of the operations financial management holds the central position in any organisation wherein the power of finance encapsulates the application of managerial tools like planning, organising, directing as well as the control front in the finance function that has been the sine qua non, since industrialisation. Earlier researches have highlighted the significance of financial management and financial performance strengthening, in the context of an organisation by working focus on the following dimensions:
As the organisations utilise the use of financial management techniques regularly, its contribution towards the profit elevation and mitigation of risk is a primary consideration in the business. Safari et al. 2016, have highlighted the association of performance evaluation with the planning and managerial operations, assess the organisation with lengthening exponential base is released existence soon. It can be estimated in this regard that the lack of appropriate risk management system is a significant causative to the financial crisis of banking and financial institutions stressing periodical review and updating of documentation as the solutions to it. The necessity of estimating, in obtaining economic performance enlargement helps in the realisation of financial objective points. It is one of the primary considerations of multinational entities, as it contributes to the moderation of volatility as per De Silva (2016), thereby affecting the revenue prospect of the company.
Financial performance evaluation also serves to be an essential aspect for conducting an audit on a periodical basis, thus playing a significant role in the early identification of risk and management. In agreement to this, Tavaruva (2017) supported the assistance of financial performance evaluation in risk identification as well as the management prospects in the organisation by enhancing the effectiveness of accountability transparency and its overall efficiency.
Decision making and management
The evaluation of financial performance significantly helps the organisation to maintain a track of its expenses and income, thereby assisting the realisation of success. The utilisation of the performance evaluation techniques like ratio analysis helps in boosting the profitability of the organisation by providing the prospect of informed decision making (Sultan et al. 2016). The concentration of the researchers on the performance evaluation domain has been considered upon the elements of working capital management involving current liabilities and assets, showing significant implications on profitability and financial performance.
The derivation of profit, in the business world, is primarily the objective of realising a benefit which outperforms its underlying cause. For this, the necessity of conducting financial performance evaluation is evident as per Khan (2017), for focusing on continuous financial management through the review of financial performance. Associating its contribution to the overall impact in assessing the business decisions in the market economy to combat risks, Sarma (2017) provides enthusiastic support towards assistance in the assessment of investment options and decision-making process.
The significant contribution of financial performance evaluation is evident towards catering to the broader community and more significantly, to the needs of the stakeholders’, Thus, it forms one of the reasons that validate its necessity in the contemporary business landscape. In this regard, the growth of sustainable accounting has taken its rise across the globe. Palit (2018) draws substantial focus in this regard by highlighting the growing emphasis on sustainability reporting, paving out significant advancements in disclosable information, policies and practices. Stating it to be an increasing contribution to organisational success. Szołno-Koguc (2018), has noted the need behind an open and transparent financial management. The author highlights the adherence to budgetary openness and transparency by promoting the need of proper documentation, as well as the circulation of the information amongst stakeholders, which is resonated by Caputo et al. (2016) as well. The financial performance evaluation, as well as management majorly contributes to this aspect by providing the right technique and disclosing the status of an organisation which effect on the stakeholders' decision-making process.
Owing to paramount significance in the world of business, the need arises to discern the different techniques rooted in the process of financial performance analysis. Using the right design for the evaluation of performance is substantially contributing to the assessment of the reasons and its implications on the business, assisting with the future endeavours and decision making (Anthony et al. 2019). Crucial to the aspect of evaluating financial performance, the techniques concentrate on the assessment of the documented evidence of the organisations' monetary transactions in terms of its income statement and balance sheet. Few methods which are commonly used to assist an organisation with its financial performance evaluation identified in the literary sources are as follows,
Comparative statement analysis –Robinson (2020) suggest the utility of the process to primarily in compass arriving at investment decisions and recommendations, in the form of equity investments, merger and acquisition, evaluation of the operational process of subsidiaries creditworthiness compliance with debt covenants assignment of debt rating or bond issue valuations of security and forecasting future income and cash flows.
Common size statements- The simple notion behind the common size statement involves the consideration of percentage for its preparation. Considering the total value of assets and liabilities as base per the percentage capsized by each element of the report are evaluated to draw comparison amongst the different periods of operation (Shrotriya, 2019).
Trend analysis and ratios- The significance of the ratio trend analysis can be found in the research of Arkan (2016). The researcher has stated it to be quintessential in forecasting the share price trends in the emerging markets. Serving it as a base of the research, the author provides that it is a significant contributor towards the prediction of stock prices affecting both the investors and organisational decision-making fronts.
Analysis of average- The calculation of average is conjunctively used with the trend ratios for the evaluation of the financial performance of the business in consideration with the entire industry average (Fang et al. .2017).
Changes in the working capital statement- By finding the difference between current assets and current liabilities the idea of working capital changes serves to provide a critical assessment metric to the organisation regarding its short-term performance evaluations and decision making regarding its modus vivendi (Kumaraswamy,2016).
Fund flow analysis- Zainudin et al. 2017 draw forth its connection with providing a moderating effect on financial flexibility. The author states that financial flexibility is an essential source of altering the negative relationship between debt financing and financial performance to a positive one using the practice of fund flow analysis as the base for the research.
Cash flow analysis- Like the fund flow analysis, the cash flow analysis associates the division of the cash movement in the organisation into activities of investing financing and operating instead of the working capital movements. The significant association of the analysis in boosting the corporate financial performance is another reason behind its popularity of usage and its application in the business (Liman and Mohammed,2018).
Cost volume profit analysis- Another metric used in the operational performance evaluation of an organisation is the use of cost volume profit analysis. It is used mainly by the financial managers within the company's internal environment to associate the relationship between sales cost and profit the segregating the cost element into fixed and variable (Lulaj and Iseni, 2018).
The financial performance of an organisation even though quintessential to its survival, as well as, combating the comparative process is often affected due to numerous factors directly or indirectly. These factors are inclusive of both external and internal facets of an organisation which implicates the organisations' responsibility as well as catering to the needs of the stakeholders, therefore, affecting its long term as well as short term revenue prospects. The former literature sources also provide evidence to these factors that can potentially impact the financial performance as well as revenue generation of an organisation. Velte (2017) highlights that the environmental social and governance focus of an organisation, has significant positive impact on the return on assets which is an important aspect of the financial performance of an organisation. Extending on this domain, Le et al. (2019) has demonstrated positive implications of corporate social responsibilities on the financial arrangements by providing a mediation role of corporate reputation in customer loyalty. Das and Swain (2018) validated the significant association between capital structure decisions and the possibility of profit of companies. Another aspect of decision making and planning can be highlighted in the research of Pimpong and Laryea (2016) for stating the significant role of budgeting in the performance of the organisation, as it provides vital information for superiors to evaluate the performance and decide upon the finance allocation strategies. Al-Musali and Ismail (2016) interestingly note that values of intellectual capitals a knowledge-based economy is a primary causative of a competitive advantage which has a direct implication on the financial performance of an organisation. Furthermore, Onumah and Duho (2019) have suggested that the utilisation of panel observations have supported the utilisation of value-added intellectual coefficient that has a significant impact on the financial performance as well as the stability of an organisation.
Another aspect which puts important implications on the financial performance of an organisation can be attributed in terms of external or