C&S Electric to increase focus on overseas market

“The retail domestic market will be a key area of growth for us, in addition to greater strategic focuses on export markets like China” said Aditya Khanna, Managing Director, C&S Electric Ltd.
Delhi-based Rs 1,200 crore power equipment manufacturer C&S Electric Ltd is increasing its footprint in the global market. In an exclusive interview with EPR, Aditya Khanna talks about slowdown and his company’s strategy.
The Indian economy is not doing well. With that, how do you see the performance of the industry as well as your company?The industry is going through a difficult phase because of the slowdown, delays in project executions, and various policy constraints. Ultimately, we are a large country and we need growth in power generation to cater to the growing needs of the country. I don’t think it is the issue in terms of demand, it is only a matter of timing and I’m sure that things will pick up. Having said that even within the existing situation, I don’t think that all segments are impacted equally. Within the power segment there are multiple segments like infrastructure, industrial, real estate, consumers, OEMs etc. So within the landscape, there are pockets of growth still available.
As a company, though the infrastructure side is under slowdown, we are finding fairly good traction on the consumer, retail and real estate side.  This year we are expecting about 10 – 12 per cent growth in our LV switchgear business due to growth in retail segment. We have introduced new products on this front which is largely backed by the MCB range. Our medium voltage switchgear products which are mainly used on the industrial and distribution side are doing very well. On the distribution side we are witnessing a lot of traction on the urban distribution and semi-urban distribution driven by APDRP. In the next 1 to 2 years time, we will probably become one of the top 2 or 3 suppliers of ring main units for the distribution segment. Our bustrunking products are doing very well and we continue to enhance our market leadership position.
Our export business had been quite good during the year and we expect around 15 per cent growth for this financial year. Today our brand is well respected and recognised all over the world. As a result we are able to continuously grow our depth and spread in the export markets.
Could you name some of your significant projects this year?Our bustrunking products are being used in the landmark ‘World One’ building in Mumbai. We have made significant supplies of switchgear and busbars in Reliance’s Sasan power plant, the Nuclear Power plant being executed by BGR in Chennai and the IOCL Paradip refinery.
There are many MNCs present in your vertical. What are the advantages you offer being a local player?The biggest advantage is we are closer to the customer. The customers enjoy flexibilities in terms of product selection, engineering, and lead time of supplies. Being an Indian company, we have the ability to develop customised solutions according to customers’ feedback and specifications.
Which are the export markets doing well for your business?We export to over 85 countries and are present in almost all the major markets. In terms of our spread also we are fairly even. In export, our 20 per cent sales come from U.S. and North America region. European market contributes to 25 per cent, whereas Middle East is 15 per cent, and Africa attains around 10 per cent.
So far, all markets are doing relatively well for us. However, Africa emerges as a real revolution for us. We were not much present in Africa in the past, but in the last 2 to 3 years our sales in these markets have significantly grown.
Is it particularly in the MV switchgear market?No, it has been in the entire portfolio, but predominately LV switchgears and busbars.
Any large market you are looking at? In future, China is going to be a key area of growth for us. We have started local sales there over the last one year and set up a plant in China now. We are going to enhance our commitment there. Other than that U.S and African markets will be areas of strategic importance for the company.
How much you have invested in Chinese plant?We didn’t make a huge investment in China. We have a manufacturing plant that was set up about 2 years ago to establish our presence and analyse the market. We were buying back the products being manufactured in our plant in China for our own consumption in India. During this period we have been able to have a large part of our LV switchgear range tested and approved under local CCC norms, and as result we began local sales in China this year. We have already broken though some large OEM customers and started to establish relationships with local distributors.
What sort of expansion plan you have for the local market in India?Expansion in local market in India has to be incremental. We are s strong player in the Indian market and probably be amongst the top 5 in most of the product segments that we compete. Our intention is to keep growing the business incrementally, while enhancing our product basket to add value to our customers.
The primary new segment that we are targeting quite aggressively in the Indian market is the retail market. We started this endeavour over the last 1.5years, and is largely driven though our MCB product range. We have taken a fair chunk of market share from most of the major competitors of the MCB products and I see that growing. Even this year, the MCB business grew more than 40 per cent for us. In addition to this, we have added domestic switches, LED lighting and wires to complete the retail product basket.
What is your market share in MCB?I think we are probably at number 4 today. Certainly we are growing faster than our competitors.
How are you going to maintain your local market and export ratio?Well, we are not trying to maintain any ratio. We always want to grow in all our fronts whether it is export or at home. Today 30 per cent of the business comes internationally and 70 per cent is Indian. It varies year to year.
What will be your turnover?We are a ` 1,200 crore business last year.
What will be your target for this financial year?This year is a tough year, given that a lot of our orders are running behind schedule due to delays in project. Accordingly, an 8-10% overall growth would be a good performance, but a lot will depend on the uptake from the projects in the last quarter of the year.
Even achieving 8-10 per cent is challenging…The challenges are due to a lot of projects getting delayed. We don’t want to supply for the sake of supplying because the customers are facing lot of challenges financially. There is no point in supplying materials then waiting for them to pay one year later.
Could you name one of your products which will change your position in the market?I don’t think it’s fair to say one of our products will change our positioning in the market! Having said that, today highest growth product for us is MCB and that is going to give us new customer access in the retail segment. Our MCB product for retail segment branded as WiNtrip has helped us reach to the homes of people. This has been a change from our traditionally industrial customers. So far, the market acceptance for WiNtrip has been phenomenal; the learning for us is that there is always room even in a crowded marked for a high quality product that delivers on its commitment.

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