Polycab – Wire and Cable Industry
With its vast product portfolio and focus on customer service, Polycab is one of the leaders in the wire and cable industry. Since the past few years, the company has been further expanding its footprint with new product lines. In an exclusive interview with Engineering Review ahead of ELECRAMA 2020, Shashi Amin, President & SBU Head – Cables, Polycab Wires Pvt Ltd., talks about the company’s focus on the event, changing expectations of Indian customers, current trends in Indian wire and cable industry, and the company’s future growth plans. Excerpts:
Q. Polycab has gradually established itself as a leading name in Indian wire and cable industry. Tell us about Polycab’s focus and key product lines?
Being leaders in the wire and cable industry, Polycab offers end-to-end electrical solutions to meet customer requirements touching every industry and common man with its wide range of products.
We manufacture and sell a diverse range of wires and cables and our key products in the wires and cable segment are power cables, control cables, instrumentation cables, rubber cables, solar cables, building wires, green wires, flexible cables, communication cables, welding cables, submersible flat and round cables, overhead conductors, and other specialty cables. Besides wire and cable, we have also added other product lines such as fans, lighting, switches, pumps, solar, conduits, etc., to our portfolio since our entry into the FMEG segment in 2014.
Q. What opportunities are you expecting by participating at ELECRAMA 2020?
ELECRAMA is the largest exhibition where entire electrical industry ecosystem comes together to explore the latest innovations, trends and opportunities in the industry. It is an opportunity for us to exhibit our wide range of existing as well as upcoming products to the target customers and specifiers.
ELECRAMA is visited by most of the decision makers of power utilities, government organisations, electrical equipment manufacturers, EPC contractors, consultants and other specifiers which makes a compelling case of having our presence so as to establish a connect with these people all under one roof.
Interaction with these decision makers helps us in understanding the current technology, customer requirements and also the future trends in the industry. Furthermore, ELECRAMA is a globally acclaimed event which provides a platform to interact with the industry experts and customers from across the globe.
We have been part of ELECRAMA for almost every season and with each participation our connection with customer and industry partners has grown stronger.
Q. As a key player in your segment, which products/technologies are you bringing to the event to meet customer requirements. Are there any new products that you would be launching at the event?
We have strong research and development (R&D) capabilities with emphasis on upgrading the technology used in our production process. Our customer-centric R&D efforts assist our sales and marketing team in meeting the customer requirements. We believe in continuous evolution and have regularly come up with innovative and new products from time to time.
For example, we have developed products such as flame retardant elastomeric compounds, flame retardant chlorosulphonated polyethylene rubber compounds and cathodic protection cables using fluoropolymers and other innovative products such as environmentally friendly ROHS compliant wires and power cables, rubber (elastomeric) cables and electron beam irradiated cables to serve the needs of the automobile, ship-building industry, mining, solar energy and rolling stock sector.
Q. What are the current trends and innovations impacting the Indian wire and cable industry?
Since the introduction of GST reform, Indian wire and cable industry is gradually moving from a largely unorganized sector towards an organized sector comprising pan-India branded market players. Furthermore, increased technological complexities and marketing/branding activities by leading cable manufacturers will lead to a further increase in the share of the organized sector.
Changing trends in relation to home improvements and increasing disposable incomes will boost demand for retail building wires segment. Rising disposable incomes will further drive demand for household appliances and automobiles which will have a positive impact on the demand.
Transmission & Distribution (T&D) share out of total investment in power sector is expected to increase greatly during FY19-23 which will lead to an increase in the demand for EHV and HV cables. Also, with increasing awareness about safety, commercial establishments such as hotels, hospitals and malls and luxury housing developers are expected to actively install HFFR cables. India is the 2nd largest telecom market and the fastest growing in the world.
With increasing internet penetration coupled with increased affordability for improved data services, the demand for optical fiber cable (OFC) network will continue to remain strong in the coming years.
Q. How well is India positioned in the global wire and cable market? Comment on the challenges and opportunities in the segment.
Globally, wire & cable sector has been dominated by China, USA, Japan, UK and South Korea. However, with superior growth in the last decade, India has emerged as a significant market for wire and cable with approximate size of Rs 525 billion in FY18.
As per CRISIL report on wires and cables industry, the industry is expected to grow at 15% during the period FY18-FY23 and reach a market size of approximately Rs 1 trillion by FY23. Growth is expected to be driven by investments in T&D facilities and 41 GW of new capacity addition in Solar energy & Wind energy.
Construction sector, led by infrastructure projects and supported by rail network expansion, urban infrastructure projects like Smart Cities mission, metro rail etc, will drive the growth demand. Affordable housing, healthcare and education are the three segments which are expected to drive building construction leading to increased demand for wire and cable.
Volatility in raw material prices is one of the industry’s major and pertinent problems which has a huge impact on bottom line considering high percentage of raw material cost in our business.
Due to lack of awareness, wires & cables are perceived as commodity products by many consumers with little or less focus on quality parameters. Due to this we face a lot of challenges to win a customer wherever we are competing against unorganized players who offer sub-standard quality products at a much lower price.
Also, the industry is facing problems related to pricing and delay in payments from institutional customers. As a result of this, many manufacturers have consciously increased their focus on the retail segment and have been expanding their dealer/distributor network. Further many have taken the route of diversification by adding retail products such as FMEG to their portfolio and striving to become a one-stop-shop for electrical goods.
Q.In your view, how have the requirements of Indian buyers evolved overtime? How does Polycab facilitate the customers and ensure their demands are met.
According to a survey by FICCI, India’s rapid economic growth has set the stage for fundamental change among the country’s consumers. Due to steady growth in disposable income, there is discernible shift in consumer preference towards higher end and technologically superior branded products. Wire & cable industry in India has come a long way, growing from being a small industry to a very large one over the past decade transforming itself into an organized industry.
Increasing urbanization has increased the investment in metro rails for urban mass transportation and increasing propensity for clean energy has led to a shift in investments moving towards renewables such as solar and wind energy.
We are also experiencing an increasing demand for specialized cables such as EHV cables, elastomeric cables, optical fibers, etc., presently being used for special applications such as mining, in oil sector, shipbuilding, cranes, elevators, wind, defence etc.
Q.Update us on the future vision and growth plans for the company.
We intend to enhance and strengthen our leadership position in wires and cables by means of geographical penetration and providing customized solutions to customer’s problems. We intend to expand our market share by targeting key growth sectors such as mining, oil and gas, shipping, power, renewables, infrastructure, construction, automotive, telecommunication.
Also, we have adopted a two-pronged strategy to improve our working capital management. We are continuously working on increasing the coverage of channel finance for our distributors and also rationalizing our inventory levels to optimally meet our customer requirements and thereby reducing the financing cost.
In 2014, we started on the path of diversification when we entered the FMEG segment with Polycab line of fans, lighting, switches, solar products, conduits and accessories. To increase our brand recognition and buzz, we have recently launched new experience centres to help users experience our wide range of products.