In his speech to Apollo Tyres Ltd.'s shareholders at the 43rd Annual General Meeting, Chairman Ankar S Kanwar said the company is financially secure heading into the future. That includes selling tires online.
Here is what he told the shareholders on Aug. 9, 2016, from Kochi, Kerala, India.
"The year 2015-16 will be remembered as a watershed year for the company. I am proud to remind you of some of the steps your company took to shake off the shackles of the past and move into a new orbit.
"The financial year began with the announcement of the construction of the greenfield facility in Hungary. It is a matter of great pride for all of us as shareholders and well-wishers of the company as this is the first time any Indian tire company has set up a greenfield outside of our country. The honorable Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, laid the foundation stone of the facility.
"Time and again, your company has demonstrated its strong capability in delivering large projects, and I am confident that we can meet our commitment of rolling out the first tires from the Hungarian plant by early 2017. This will help your company to offer a larger product portfolio to its customers in the highly profitable European markets and increase our market share.
"In line with our strategy to increase our visibility in our key markets, we rolled out the much-talked about campaign 'Rock the Road.' It is the biggest online campaign in the more than 100-year history of our European brand Vredestein. The campaign is aimed at increasing the brand’s visibility and highlighting its premium offerings and superior performance. Your company recognizes that having strong brands and increased product portfolio will help in achieving our objective of profitable and sustainable growth.
"There is also another pillar of success -- a strong retail network. We have to expand our reach in the key European markets. I am glad to mention that your company acquired the Germany-based reifencom GmbH. The acquisition will give our brands increased visibility, and its strong online presence in many countries, including Austria, Switzerland and France, will further support the growth of the retail network in Europe and also help in our journey to sell tires online in other key markets outside Europe.
"The other major step that your company took to further cement its leadership position in the Indian market was its entry into the two-wheeler tires market. Time and again, your company’s partners have requested us to give them the best-in-class products in this segment. I must compliment our strong R&D team which worked relentlessly over the past two years in developing the two-wheeler tires, which are best suited for the diverse Indian road conditions. With the offering, Apollo Tyres is a full range player, and the two-wheeler tires will support our vision of creating a stronger and profitable company.
"With a clear strategy laid out for the next two years, including the necessary marketing, advertising and R&D push, I am confident that we will soon be amongst the top three players in this segment. Of course, the initiatives taken in the past year in the other tire segments, like the launch of the high-mileage passenger car tire Apollo Amazer 4G Life that can run up to 100,000 kms (60,000 miles), or the foray into the retreading business, or the marketing push for the truck/bus radial segment are now bearing fruit as your company continues to gain market share in other segments of the industry. In fact, we are doubling our capacity in this key segment to further consolidate our leadership position.
"However, if a company only focuses on profits and growth, it is unlikely to create a long lasting institution and leave a legacy for our future. For us the belief comes from within, that without giving back to society no business can be truly successful and sustainable in the long run. It is for this reason that sustainability is at the core of your company. ‘Care for Society’ is one of the six key values that drives each one of us at Apollo Tyres, ensuring that your company and each individual in the organization is at the forefront of socially responsible actions. I am proud to mention that your company was awarded the prestigious Asian CSR Awards 2015 under the Health Enhancement category by the Asian Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
"Kerala has always held a special place in our hearts, and I am extremely proud to mention that recently the Kerala Chapter of the National Institute of Personnel Management has awarded your company with the 'NIPM Kerala Best Corporate Citizen Award.' The award acknowledges the efforts of your company as it engage its CSR in a systematic manner and integrates it with the overall corporate strategy.
"Another initiative by your company, along with the local community, is focused on pond conservation, which aims to restore a 200-year-old pond in Perambra. Your company has initiated the Kannur Kandal project, which will look at ensuring the survival of existing mangroves and increase the acreage of such habitats across Kannur, another example of our commitment to our Mother State.
"The next phase of your company’s journey has begun. As we start on the exhilarating and challenging road ahead, we have outlined our goals and aspirations as part of the company’s Vision 2020. We envision your company to be a premier tire company with a diversified and multinational presence. All the work that we are doing aims to achieve this vision as we target being the preferred partners for customers in India and Europe and the best work place with top notch talent.
"We will continue to invest in our brands, have a sharp focus on technologies and expand into new markets and consolidate and increase existing market shares. For sure there will be challenges. But we are ready! I assure each one of you that your company has the necessary skills, the knowledge and importantly the attitude to ‘go the distance’. We never lose sight of the reason we are here: to serve our customers, work with our partners to offer best in class products, to continuously repay the trust that you place in us, and generate a greater value for the society that we live in.
"In front of you here today, I am extremely confident of the future of your company as I believe we are well-positioned to capitalize on the emerging opportunities in India and outside. The economic revival that is underway in India is an opportunity for us to benefit from all our past investments. The global economic scenario, while not as exciting as India's, still affords a smart and agile player like us many windows to further grow our business profitably.
"I started by saying that the past year was a watershed one, and I am convinced that we are today looking at a very bright and prosperous shared future together. I would like to conclude by thanking each one of you for having been a partner in this ongoing journey. Your support is highly valued, and your company’s success is an indication of the faith you have always bestowed upon us. The support that we continue to receive from our banks, financial institutions and the state governments of Kerala, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, and the governments of India, Netherlands and Hungary, enable us to plan for the future."
To read about Apollo's first-quarter financials, visit "Apollo Remains Highly Profitable Despite 1Q Dip In Income."