Sunday, March 1, 2015

Saint-Gobain celebrates its 350th anniversary with its sights set firmly on the future



Saint-Gobain’s 350th anniversary is a historic event, an extraordinary milestone in the life of the company and its people. But even as it celebrates its unique history, Saint-Gobain has its sights set firmly on the future and, in particular, in India, in Shaping the Future.

Saint-Gobain entered India in 1996, and has achieved strong and profitable growth since then. Today, it is a leader in all its major businesses, has 20 manufacturing sites and about 4,900 employees in India. In 2014, Saint-Gobain registered sales of about Rs. 4,800 crores. For Saint-Gobain, India presents a huge opportunity for growth. Two large entities, Grindwell Norton Ltd. (GNO), a publicly traded company, and Saint-Gobain India Pvt. Ltd. (SGI) and a few smaller entities house Saint-Gobain’s businesses in India.

“India has been an important market and investment destination for Saint-Gobain and, going forward, will be even more so. Saint-Gobain believes that it can play an important role in shaping the future by designing, manufacturing and distributing building and high-performance materials, which provide innovative solutions to meet the challenges of growth, energy efficiency and environmental protection. This is the core of Saint-Gobain’s strategy. On Saint-Gobain’s 350th anniversary, we aim to strengthen this commitment even further by becoming the reference for sustainable habitat in India and doubling our business in the country in the next few years,” says Mr. Anand Mahajan, General Delegate for India, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh, Saint-Gobain.

Saint-Gobain’s strategy for India – ‘Shaping the future’ 

Saint-Gobain’s has two ambitions for its businesses in India:

1) To shape the future of and to become the Reference for Sustainable Habitat in India.

2) Strong and profitable growth of all its businesses: more specifically, to more than double its business in India and to exceed sales of Rs. 10,000 crores by 2019.

Saint-Gobain believes that it can play an important role in shaping the future by designing, manufacturing and distributing building and high-performance materials, which provide innovative solutions to meet the challenges of growth, energy efficiency and environmental protection. This is the core of Saint-Gobain’s strategy. Specifically for India, we will focus on three strategic priorities:

1. Sustainable Habitat: There are three important parts to this strategy:

• Sustainable Buildings: inventing products, solutions and systems for the buildings of the future.

Sustainable Manufacturing: reducing the environmental impact of its industrial processes and supply chain (elements: energy efficiency, life cycle cost analysis of its products, water conservation, efficient and green logistics, Suppliers’ charter, etc.)

• Sustainable Construction: Contributing to the development of skills and techniques for modern, efficient construction, manufacturing and logistics.

2. Innovation: Saint-Gobain is one of the world’s 100 most innovative companies.

Innovation is embedded in its history and its identity. In 2013, Saint-Gobain invested 430 Million Euro in R&D. In December 2013, Saint-Gobain inaugurated its seventh, transversal Research Centre - Saint-Gobain Research India (SGRI) - in close collaboration with IIT Madras. Located in Chennai, SGRI will work for all of Saint-Gobain’s businesses and will drive initiatives to develop innovative and sustainable products and solutions for the region.

3. Local Manufacturing: Saint-Gobain has invested in building state-of-the-art, world-class manufacturing plants in India and will continue to do so. Saint-Gobain has pursued a “Make in India” strategy from the very beginning. More recently, investments have been made in new facilities to serve global markets. This trend will continue.



Saint-Gobain in India 

The India businesses are:

Flat glass

a) SGI - Glass and Glass Solutions business: Manufactures and markets clear, tinted and solar control glass, fire resistant glass and other types of glasses from its plants located in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

b) SGI and Saint-Gobain Sekurit India Ltd. - Automotive Glass business: Manufactures and markets automotive glazing and modular components for the vehicle manufacturing segment and the replacement market from its plants located in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

High performance materials

c) GNO and its subsidiary, Saint-Gobain Ceramic Materials Bhutan - Abrasives (Bonded, Coated, Non-Woven, Superabrasives and Thin Wheels), Silicon Carbide, High Performance Refractories and Performance Plastics businesses: Manufactures and markets products from its plants located in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Bhutan.

d) Saint-Gobain Crystals & Detectors Ltd. - Manufactures and markets radiation detection and measurement products in Bangalore.

e) SEPR Refractories India Pvt. Ltd. - Manufactures and markets fused-cast refractories from its plant in Kerala.

Construction products 

f) SGI - Gyproc business: Manufactures and markets an extensive range of gypsum plasterboards, gypsum plasters, acoustic ceiling tiles for false ceilings, dry wall partitions and wall lining systems from its plants located in Haryana, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

g) SGI - Weber business: Manufactures and markets products and solutions for tile and stone fixing, joint fillers (or grouts), masonary mortars, water-proofing chemicals and admixtures.

350 years of history 


In 1665, Louis XIV, prompted by his Finance Minister Colbert, created the Manufacture Royale des Glaces de Miroirs. Its first order was to make Glass for the Hall of Mirrors in the ‘Palais de Versailles’. Some years later, this company set up a manufacturing plant in the village of Saint-Gobain in the north-east of France and eventually took its name. Over the centuries since then, Saint-Gobain, the oldest Company in the CAC 40, has weathered many a storm – the French Revolution, two World Wars, two industrial and technological revolutions, major economic crises, nationalization and privatization – and has emerged stronger. Its longevity is based on its values, which have been forged over 350 years and have been passed down through the generations, its ability to anticipate and to adapt and to innovate and, hence, to stay one step ahead and its early belief in progress through internationalization. These have been the constants.

The latter part of the 20th Century and beginning of the 21st Century have witnessed a transformation of the Group. Key acquisitions during this period, including Norton Company (a world leader in Abrasives, Ceramics and Performance Plastics) in 1990, Poliet (which was the holding company of Point P, Lapeyre and Weber & Broutin and which marked Saint-Gobain’s entry into the Building Materials Distribution business) in 1996 and BPB (the world leader in Gypsum Plasterboard and Plasters) in 2005, led to the Group’s strengthening its High Performance Materials businesses and its global footprint and also its strategic focus on sustainable habitat.

Saint-Gobain - 2015


• Today, Saint-Gobain has a presence in 64 countries and has nearly 190,000 employees worldwide. In 2013, Saint-Gobain registered net sales of €42.0 billion and was ranked 180th in the Global Fortune 500 list.

• Today, Saint-Gobain is a diversified group that creates and delivers innovative and high-performance solutions to enhance our habitat and our daily life.

• Research and Innovation are at the heart of Saint-Gobain’s strategy. The Group’s research focuses both on breakthrough innovations and on continuously improving its products, processes and services. Today, Saint-Gobain has 7 transversal research centres located across the globe and files nearly 400 patents every year.

• Besides innovation, Saint-Gobain believes that the emerging and fast-growing countries will be the drivers of growth for the future.

• Saint-Gobain has evolved to be a decentralized community of entrepreneurs who are focused on meeting the ever-changing needs of their customers.

While different events celebrating 350 years and involving all its stakeholders have been planned in different parts of the world, the global initiatives include:

1) Futuristic travelling pavilions in four cities (Shanghai, Sao Paolo, Philadelphia and Paris) offering a unique sensory experience to the public at large.

2) A virtual exhibition of the Group’s history

3) An anniversary book

4) The World 350 game on the mobile platform

5) Anniversary day celebrations on October 15, 2015 (it was in October 1665, that King Louis XIV signed the letters authorizing the creation of the Manufacture Royale des Glaces de Miroirs)

In 2015, Saint-Gobain is celebrating its 350th anniversary. Backed by its experience and its capacity to continuously innovate, Saint-Gobain, the world leader in the habitat and construction market, designs, manufactures and distributes high-performance and building materials providing innovative solutions to the challenges of growth, energy efficiency and environmental protection. With 2013 sales of €42 billion, Saint-Gobain operates in 64 countries and has nearly 190,000 employees. 

For details, visit: www.saint-gobain.com

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Maui Jim introduces Keanaei, one of the lightest sunglasses



Adding to its collection of five PureAir styles that feel like “pure air,” Maui Jim has introduced ‘Keanae’, one of the lightest sunglasses in the world. It features Maui Jim’s MauiPure lenses, the world’s clearest non-glass sunglass lenses. These lenses have waterproof and oleophobic coatings to shed water and repel smudges, as well as proprietary CLEARSHELL scratch-resistant coating to reduce scratches. Priced at Rs. 12,300, Keanae is available at all leading optical stores.

The ultra-thin and ultra-light Grilamid TR90LX frames of Keanae are made of a thermo-plastic known for its durability and ability to retain its shape even when the material is flexed. The sunglasses come in colorations that slightly mimic the look of camouflage with aggressive mottled detailing, Black/Grey Tortoise with Neutral Grey lenses; Olive Tortoise with HCL Bronze lenses, and Red/Black Tortoise with Maui Rose lenses. The frames of Keanae have fixed saddle-style nose bridges, but hidden behind them are adjustable rubber nose pads that add comfort and stability for most active outdoor undertakings. It has embedded rubber at the ends of the temples for added gripping power. Maui Jim’s traditional pin hinges are anti-corrosive and attractively hidden for a seamless, unicolor look. The sunglass style can also be made with prescription MauiPassport lenses.

All Maui Jim lenses are distinguished from other competing sunglass lenses on the market by the company’s patented nine-layer PolarizedPlus2 technology that cuts 100 percent of UV rays and 99.9 percent of glare from above, below and behind each lens. Maui Jim is the only company to use three rare earth elements and other treatments to white-balance its lenses, resulting in true color vibrancy. The PolarizedPlus2 technology also increases definition and depth perception. 

All Maui Jim sunglasses have been recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation as an effective UV filter for the eyes and surrounding skin. Proper UV protection is critical, as ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun plays a significant role in the development of skin cancer. About 86 per cent of melanomas and 90 per cent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

For details, visit: MauiJim.com 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hyundai launches all-new 4S Fluidic Verna



Hyundai Motor India Ltd. (HMIL) has launched the all-new 4S Fluidic Verna. First introduced in 2006, Hyundai Verna has spread customer delight in 66 countries caring for over 2.3 million customers across the world. The all-new 4S Fluidic Verna will set yet another benchmark in the mid-high sedan segment.

The all-new 4S Fluidic Verna is a sophisticated, premium, stylish and safe World Sedan loved in the Indian car market. The 4S Fluidic Verna is a signature of Hyundai’s brand legacy and customer trust since its first launch in 2006. The Fluidic Verna launched in 2011 received customers’ applause for its world class “Fluidic Sculpture” design philosophy.

The vehicle model embodies the best of Hyundai’s Modern-Premium brand power and delivers maximum driving pleasure and confidence. The sporty, premium design, best comfort and high fuel efficiency exceeds customer’s expectations. It has already established world class safety standards in the automobile industry and combines state-of-the-art technology and engineering with eternal fluidic design. The latest expression of all-new 4S is a perfect amalgamation of man, nature and machine with power and finesse.

Speaking on the launch of the all-new 4S Fluidic Verna, Mr. B.S. Seo, Managing Director and CEO, HMIL, said: “The launch of the all-new 4S Fluidic Verna marks Hyundai’s success as a premium car manufacturer winning customers’ love and trust globally. We aim to be the most loved, trusted and caring car manufacturer in India offering class-leading Hyundai experience to the aspirational Indian customer. As the most caring brand, the new Verna is a result of human engineering to contribute to the brilliant moments of our customers’ life. Alongside its stunning fluidic design and technological finesse enhances driver and passenger comfort.”

Eicher Motors announces annual results for CY 2014



For the consolidated business in CY 2014, Eicher Motors Ltd. reported the best-ever total income from operations of Rs. 8,738.3 crores and the best-ever EBIT at 10.2%.

Eicher Motors – standalone, i.e., the Royal Enfield business, posted its best-ever yearly performance in CY2014. The company recorded its highest ever total income from operations at Rs. 3,031.2 crores, a growth over 78% from Rs. 1,702.5 crores in CY 2013. The company significantly improved profitability posting an EBIT of 22.5% bettering 16.6% in CY 2013. 

Commenting on Royal Enfield’s performance, Mr. Siddhartha Lal, Managing Director & CEO, Eicher Motors Ltd., said: “Royal Enfield continues to grow at a phenomenal pace and this year we have achieved our best ever sales of over 300,000 units. In 2015, we plan to manufacture 450,000 units. With a view to become the leader in the global mid-sized motorcycling, Royal Enfield will build two new technology centers. The larger one will be at a new 4.5 acre property that we have acquired on Old Mahabalipuram Road in Chennai, and will be operational by Q2 2016; a smaller satellite center is being set up in Leicestershire of the UK, and will be operational by the end of 2015. These technology centres will significantly enhance our capability to execute our long term product strategy. Our immediate business outlook is strong, and we are continuing to invest in all strategic areas for long term growth”. 

Royal Enfield continued with its strategic focus on international markets, strengthening its presence in key markets like the UK, Europe, the US and Colombia in 2014. Royal Enfield launched itsfirst ever exclusive store in London in May and recreated the historic Top to Tip ride in the UK on Continental GT’s, to mark the launch. Royal Enfield also participated in several classic events such as the Isle of Man Classic TT in August and Goodwood Revival festival in September, previewing its despatch rider inspired gear collection in the latter. Even in Europe, Royal Enfield showcased its motorcycles and gear at key auto shows such as INTERMOT in Germany and EICMA in Italy. In addition, Royal Enfield announced KSR Group as its new distributor in Germany. In France, Royal Enfield participated at the Wheels and Waves festival in May that draws surfing and motorcycling enthusiasts across Europe. 

In July 2014, Royal Enfield announced its strategic entry to Colombia with the appointment of the Corbeta Group as its exclusive distributor and future CKD partner in the country. Subsequently the product range was launched in November 2014 at the auto show in Bogota. In the US, Royal Enfield organised burn-upson Continental GTs in New York and Los Angeles and was also present in the Bonneville Speed week in July where ace performance tuner Matt Capri, brought two specially modified Continental GT’s for a burn-up on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Back in India, the biggest gathering of Royal Enfield riders – Rider Mania 2014, the most definitive motorcycling festival in India saw participation of over 5,000 enthusiasts across the country.

Towards building a truly global team, in 2014 Royal Enfield also announced several key hires such as Rod Copes, President, North America, famous motorcycle designer- Pierre Terblanche and more recently, in Jan 2015, Rudratej Singh, President Royal Enfield. 

Commenting on VECV, Mr. Siddhartha said: “After three years of the deep downturn, the CV industry seems to have bottomed out in Q4 of 2014 with early signs of revival seen in a few segments of the industry. We hope that this trend will strengthen and gain momentum in coming years. I strongly believe that VECV is in a good position to take the maximum advantage of this recovery.

During the downturn, VECV continued to implement its strategic initiatives with full force and as a result, it is now ready with its Pro series of products for the entire 5-49 ton category. These products have been developed in full cooperation with Volvo Group, adopting the relevant Volvo Group technologies. Some of these products have already been introduced and the remaining will get introduced in 2015. The customer response to these products has been very positive.”

“Eicher Motors’ 50:50 joint venture with Polaris Industries continues as per plans, meeting timelines and project milestones. The product will be launched in 2015”, he further added.

SFL to acquire 26% stake of JV partner in Royal Sundaram



Sundaram Finance Ltd. (SFL) and the RSA Group of the UK have reached an agreement whereby RSA has agreed to sell its entire 26% equity stake in Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Company Ltd. (RS), to SFL for a consideration of Rs. 450 crores, subject to all regulatory approvals.

SFL currently holds 49.90% in the above company, and the said acquisition would increase its holding to 75.90%. After the completion of the transaction, Sundaram Finance and its associates would hold 100% of the shareholding of RS.

RS, the first private sector non-life insurance company to be granted a licence in 2000, is a joint venture between SFL and RSA, with SFL and its associates holding 74% equity stake and RSA holding the balance 26%. RS is a leading player in the general insurance sector in India. The company reported GWP of Rs. 1,437 crores in FY 2014.

Commenting on the proposed transaction, Mr. T.T. Srinivasaraghavan, Managing Director, Sundaram Finance Ltd., said: “Sundaram Finance and RSA have enjoyed an excellent relationship over the past 15 years and built up a successful and respected brand in the insurance industry in India. RSA has added a lot of value on the technical aspects of the business and been a valued business partner. RSA Group had recently undertaken a review of their businesses globally and decided to exit non-core markets, of which India is one. While we are sorry to part company with them, we recognise that this is part of their larger global portfolio strategy.”

Mr. Srinivasaraghavan added: “India is entering an exciting phase in its economic journey and the financial services sector, specifically the insurance sector, is poised for significant growth. Given the strong synergy with the parent’s auto lending and housing finance businesses, this will further strengthen our presence in the retail financial services space.”

Bank of Maharashtra’s excellent performance



Total business of Bank of Maharashtra for the nine-month period ended December 31, 2014, registered a y-o-y growth of Rs. 10,490 crores and touched Rs. 2,12,650 crores. While total deposits increased by Rs. 5,176 crores and rose to Rs. 1,19,650 crores, gross advances moved up by Rs. 5,314 crores and stood at Rs. 93,000 crores. Operating profit was Rs. 1,678.69 crores and net profit Rs. 337.97 crores. 

The working results of the bank were jointly announced by Mr. S. Muhnot, Chairman & Managing Director, Mr. R. Athmaram and Mr. R.K. Gupta, Executive Directors. 

The net interest income of the bank for the nine-month period increased by Rs. 263.61 crores, from Rs. 2,640.21 crores to Rs. 2,903.82 crores, recording a rise of 9.98 per cent on y-o-y basis. Gross NPA and net NPA stood at 6.65 per cent and 4.71 per cent as of December 31, 2014. 

The new initiatives launched by the bank during the period include “Purple Previleges” account for HNIs, mobile banking app - “MahaMobile”, “Maha Secure”, a next generation digital banking solution, “Maha Sarvajan Savings Bank Deposit Account”, etc. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hyundai launches all-new 4S Fluidic Verna




Hyundai Motor India Ltd. (HMIL) has launched the all-new 4S Fluidic Verna. First introduced in 2006, Hyundai Verna has spread customer delight in 66 countries caring for over 2.3 million customers across the world. The all-new 4S Fluidic Verna will set yet another benchmark in the mid-high sedan segment.

The all-new 4S Fluidic Verna is a sophisticated, premium, stylish and safe World Sedan loved in the Indian car market. The 4S Fluidic Verna is a signature of Hyundai’s brand legacy and customer trust since its first launch in 2006. The Fluidic Verna launched in 2011 received customers’ applause for its world class “Fluidic Sculpture” design philosophy.

The vehicle model embodies the best of Hyundai’s Modern-Premium brand power and delivers maximum driving pleasure and confidence. The sporty, premium design, best comfort and high fuel efficiency exceeds customer’s expectations. It has already established world class safety standards in the automobile industry and combines state-of-the-art technology and engineering with eternal fluidic design. The latest expression of all-new 4S is a perfect amalgamation of man, nature and machine with power and finesse.

Speaking on the launch of the all-new 4S Fluidic Verna, Mr. B.S. Seo, Managing Director and CEO, HMIL, said: “The launch of the all-new 4S Fluidic Verna marks Hyundai’s success as a premium car manufacturer winning customers’ love and trust globally. We aim to be the most loved, trusted and caring car manufacturer in India offering class-leading Hyundai experience to the aspirational Indian customer. As the most caring brand, the new Verna is a result of human engineering to contribute to the brilliant moments of our customers’ life. Alongside its stunning fluidic design and technological finesse enhances driver and passenger comfort.”