En Route to Success
CEAT Kelani Holdings outlines medium-term plans for a post-pandemic future
Q: How does the CEAT brand hope to weather the impact of the COVID-19 crisis?
A: Years of hard work in the domestic and international markets by the CEAT-Kelani joint venture, as well as by CEAT India, made CEAT a strong and credible brand long before the beginning of the pandemic.
This is evidenced by our high market share in the commercial, radial, two-wheeler, three-wheeler and agricultural tyre segments of the local market, and the fact that 30 percent of our production was being exported to 16 countries.
We committed an additional investment of Rs. 3 billion in 2018 to increase capacity, expand the product range and improve quality across the entire product portfolio. These investments are continuing despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, we’re investing to expand capacity as we now have to produce more to support the temporary import restrictions introduced by the government to conserve foreign exchange.
The challenge during the pandemic has not only been to keep production going while safeguarding employees but increase production to meet the shortfalls created by the import restrictions to ensure that products reach customers across the country and consumers aren’t burdened by price increases in these difficult times.
We’ve done all of this since the curfew in March despite many obstacles and kept prices unchanged. We have risen to the challenges, and are supplying virtually the entire local market requirement of truck and bus tyres – and customers know this.
At the risk of sounding cliché, when the going got tough, CEAT got going. That is how the brand will not only weather the pandemic but emerge stronger in the post-COVID era.
Q: What part does social responsibility play in your business – and what are the core elements of such endeavours?
A: Social responsibility is a vital element of any successful business. CEAT has always ensured that it is socially responsible in terms of the environment, the needs of the community and its employees, and compliance with best practices.
With the onset of the pandemic, we supported many of the institutions at the front line of efforts to combat its spread with donations of essential equipment, as well as through a programme to safeguard bus commuters and those who work to transport goods.
Q: And how does CEAT view business beyond the COVID-19 horizon?
A: We believe that our expansion of production to support the government’s need for greater import substitution and recent investment of 700 million rupees toward product quality improvement will support our expectations in terms of medium-term growth.
Our country has long been too import reliant, and we feel strongly about local manufacturing and its potential to save foreign currency for the nation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested our resolve, adaptability, technical capability and nation-mindedness. We have managed to pass these tests encouragingly well thus far.
Before the pandemic began to have adverse effects on the economy, CEAT manufactured approximately half of Sri Lanka’s pneumatic tyre requirement, and our ability to go beyond this in a time of crisis offers us immense confidence for the post-pandemic future of the company and brand.