Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the 47th Annual General Meeting of Apollo Tyres Ltd. The Board’s Report and Audited Accounts for the financial year ended March 31, 2020, are with you. With your permission, I shall take them as read.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact all of us. Cases continue to rise around the world. We don’t know how long the uncertainties around this pandemic will continue and therefore being safe is the need of the hour. I hope that each one of you and your family members are safe and continue to adhere to the respective government’s guidelines and taking all necessary precautions. This is the only way we can beat the coronavirus. So, stay safe, stay secure!
The Indian economy has obviously been deeply impacted. Specifically, the performance of the Indian automobile industry is of concern as it has contracted by around 14%. Despite the tough economic play in India, and the challenging environment in the Indian and European automobile segment, we continued to work to achieve our Vision of being ‘a premier tyre company with a diversified and multinational presence’.
To achieve the vision, we believe that one of the aspects is to make our company a leader in corporate governance. It is heartening to note that the globally respected investment firm Warburg Pincus made an investment of $150 million and will be joining the Apollo Tyres’ Board. This is indeed a vote of confidence in our business, management team and growth prospects and I am confident that it will further strengthen our board and governance.
The year gone by saw your Company continue its journey with a laser sharp focus on three paths – consolidate our market position in the existing markets and seek new markets/segments; continue investment in both brands – Apollo and Vredestein; capacity expansion via Greenfield facilities and to seek other growth opportunities.
Building strong brands for Apollo and Vredestein has been a key goal for everyone at Apollo. In pursuit of this, we launched a successful 360-degree campaign of the highly loved and watched ‘Ganga’ TV commercial with cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and legendary Indian music maestro A R Rahman.
In Europe, we launched the new brand identity of our over 110 years old brand – Vredestein. This will allow us to position Vredestein as an even more premium brand and take our marketing activities to the next level. Further, our European Operations continued to add more original equipment manufacturers and now the company supplies tyres to auto majors like Volkswagen, Ford and Seat. Our focus on R&D and developing best-in-class tyres continues to win us accolades. Leading auto magazine Auto Bild recognised us as the ‘All-Season Manufacturer of the Year’, while prestigious US-based Consumer Reports named the Vredestein Wintrac Pro as the top performance winter tyre.
We continue to find opportunities in a sea of COVID-19 challenges. We inaugurated virtually our seventh plant in Andhra Pradesh and also the new motorcycle radial facility in Gujarat. We have held multiple virtual dealer engagements and have done product launches during the times of coronavirus.
Your Company’s aspiration goes beyond just market leadership. One of the values we live by is ‘Care for Society’ and this value is our beacon in our pursuit to become a responsible organisation and working to empower the underprivileged members of our community. Our CSR activities revolve around Involving, Influencing and Impacting the key stakeholders and ensuring it is a win win situation for us and our stakeholders.
I am proud to mention that your company supported its communities and stakeholders across multiple states of India even during the disruption caused by Covid. We launched an awareness campaign to make people aware of the spread and the precautions to take for coronavirus. The Company reached over a million people under this initiative. Also, we ensured supply of cooked food for families around the slums in various locations across India and 15-day ration support of essential supplies, such as ration support and hygiene kits to people and supporting over 10,000 families in the crisis situation. Also during the lockdown, TB patients had a hard time as they did not have access to medicines and could not do their scheduled appointments for their health check-ups and collect medicines. The Company ensured that medicines were available to patients with the support of District TB offices, and, at times, also arranged for supply of nutritious food as it is crucial for TB patients.
It is been a tough journey for all us, since the past two years. With the continuing uncertainties, I see things continue to remain challenging and we will continue to work towards ensuring increased stakeholder value. And I am sure that, like in the past, everyone at Apollo Tyres can continue to bank on your support for having been our partners in this ongoing journey. I thank you for your continued encouragement. I am also thankful for the support that we continue to receive from our banks, financial institutions and the various state governments we operate in; as also national governments in various countries, that enable us to grow and succeed.
I would especially like to highlight the initiative of the Indian Central Government, under the guidance of the Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, wherein the domestic tyre industry was given meaningful relief from the flood of unfairly priced, poor quality imports that were distorting the domestic market. With the need for licensed imports now, the Government has ensured that only quality products not available domestically can be imported. I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the entire industry to thank the Government and the Honourable Prime Minister and assure them that we will repay this faith by significantly increasing production, jobs and exports in the years ahead.
I would like to end with offering my very best wishes to all of you for your health and continued well-being.
Onkar S. Kanwar