Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
London calling: Learning the British way of executing orders

The British suppliers were meticulous in terms of layout plans, mechanization, production methods and finish. The 16th part of a series describing the unknown triumphs and travails of doing international business in Asia in the seventies and eighties

Despite all the confusion and delays in shipments of cast iron products from India, we somehow managed to get goods in the market on a regular basis. We had stockpiled our own products and were ably supported by supplies from China and Rumania. Besides, from time to time we simply mopped up whatever was left in the market in small pockets.

But one thing that continued to bother us was the irregularity of supplies of heavy duty manhole covers from big and reputed manufacturers like Brickhouse Broads of UK, and if my memory serves me right, were the exclusive agency of Grey Mckenzie in Dubai.

There were a number of well reputed consultants, many of them of British origin and a great number of contractors, mostly Indian, were executing their works. However, if the specification had clearly stipulated brand names (models, designs and codes), they had no choice but to get those at site, without which completed work will not be cleared.

Identifying the product with a specification, like the British Standards was one thing that any responsible contractor would be glad to comply, but branded items were asked for and contractors had to get them from those very stock holders.  It was not an easy task to replace this by supplying an equally acceptable substitute even if it complied with the relevant British or ASTM standards.

Any layman would understand the difference between grey iron casting and ductile castings.  Many suppliers, who tried to penetrate this branded market failed to enter before they started because there was hardly anyone Indian supplier who could provide ductile castings. The British suppliers and their local agents, of course, knew that the competition from India was severe; on the top of these, there were other suppliers from UK who were also attempting to enter the lucrative market.

The situation was tense. Through mutual friends we met the main supplier, Brickhouse representatives, by simply introducing ourselves (they knew a lot about our activities) and visited their offices in London. They were extremely kind and courteous and gave us the honour of letting us visit their foundries, which were eye-openers, in terms of layout plans, mechanization, production methods and finish. And the methodical way shipments were made by them, we realized our unfortunate lacuna in execution.

Upon our invitation, their senior-level representative not only met us again in Dubai, but accompanied me to visit our plants in Agra. On both sides, we were investigating the various possibilities of collaboration.

But I cannot fathom why, in spite of sincere efforts on both sides, this did not pan out. We remained healthy competitors in the market, as the demand was so substantial, that neither of us had to eat into others’ territory.

In the meantime, we had a feeler from a member of the noble family whom I do not wish to name, wanted to set up a local foundry. Considering the enormous potential in the region; however, as capital investment was not forthcoming, we could not proceed further in the matter. 

(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts. From being the advisor to exporters, he took over the mantle of a trader, travelled far and wide, and switched over to setting up garment factories and then worked in the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)

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COMMENTS

SANarayan

5 years ago

How are these memoirs relevant to moneylife readers? The writer should instead write a book.

Economy & Nation Exclusive
BSE MD & CEO Madhu Kannan to join Tata Sons

Mr Kannan who joined BSE in 2009 has resigned and is likely to join the Tata group

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on Tuesday suffered a setback as its managing director and chief executive Madhu Kannan decided to step down. According to media reports, Mr Kannan would join Tata Sons as group head for business development and report to Cyrus Mistry, deputy chairman of Tata Sons. However, this could not be confirmed. Mr Kannan's move may be personally satisfying and more challenging, comes the very next day after the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) announced norms for stock exchanges that would govern how much money they can make and how the top management can be compensated.

In a release, BSE, said Mr Kannan has expressed his intention to not to seek new term at the expiry if his current tenure that would end in May 2012, to puruse other opportunity.

Mr Kannan joined BSE in 2009. Prior to his appointment at BSE, Mr Kannan was a managing director in the corporate strategy group with Bank of America-Merrill Lynch based in New York. He joined Merrill Lynch in March 2008 as managing director (strategy and business development). In this role he focused on the development and execution of key strategic initiatives for Merrill Lynch in the emerging markets of Asia and Middle-East & North Africa (MENA) and the Global Sovereign Wealth Funds Group.
 
Prior to Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Mr Kannan was senior vice president at NYSE Euronext. During his stint at NYSE Euronext, he served in various senior roles across a range of businesses including vice president, corporate client group, head of international listings (Asia Pacific Region), and managing director, international strategy and business development of the exchange.

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Economy & Nation Exclusive
Sugar production higher by 13%: ISMA data

ISMA says has urged the government to allow a fourth tranche of 1.5 MT sugar export before sugar production from Brazil, the largest producer of sugar, is made available in the international market

The total sugar production in the country, as on 31st March stands at around 23.3 million tonnes (MT), 13% higher compared to previous year where it was 20.4 MT. With 26 MT of total estimated production and domestic consumption of 22 MT, the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), the apex industry body is demanding additional 1.5 MT of sugar for exports. The government has so far allowed export of 3 MT of sugar.

According to ISMA, with the current trend of sowing all over the country, sugar production in 2012-13 season will be higher than the domestic requirement and the country may continue to remain a net exporter next year, too. A clear estimation of sugar production would be available only after a couple of months.  Therefore, with the surplus sugar production almost certain next year, the country should carry forward the opening stock to next year as low as possible.

The industry body says that the opening balance of 6.8 MT of sugar as on 1st October 2011 has burdened the sugar industry. So the next year's opening balance should not be allowed to cross the mark of 5-5.5 MT as it will put pressure on the balance sheets of the sugar mills and harm the interests of sugarcane farmers.

ISMA says that the government should allow a fourth tranche of 1.5 MT sugar export before sugar production from Brazil, which is the largest producer of sugar, is made available in the international market.

Due to piling inventory of 18 MT, the cane arrears are growing. Abinash Verma, director-general, ISMA said that, "The total cane arrears of the sugar mills across the country is about Rs9,900 crore as the crushing season is coming to an end. In Uttar Pradesh, the ex-mill rate is around Rs28.5-RS29 per kg, while the production cost is Rs34. Mills are clearly making losses."

Uttar Pradesh has produced has produced 6.63 MT, Maharashtra has 8.01 MT  and Karnataka, India's third largest sugar producing state, has 3.5 MT, till 31st March.

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COMMENTS

abhijit

5 years ago

North and South Indian Sugar Mills always get benefit of Rs 200/- per quintal in domestic Market than maharashtra and Karnataka sugar mills. If Govt. adopt quota system for sugar Export OGL-6, then Govt. should give same time period for filing application to both option (a) and Option (b), or give time period for option (b) 30days and for option (a) 45 days that will be benefited to Sugar Mills which are interested in physical delivery of Sugar.

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